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Layman v. United Parcel Service, Inc.

United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Louisville

May 1, 2019

Jonathan LAYMAN PLAINTIFF
v.
UNITED PARCEL SERVICE, INC. DEFENDANT

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          Charles R. Simpson III, Senior Judge United States District Court

         I. Introduction

         This case is before the Court on a number of interrelated motions and objections. First, Plaintiff moved to compel a large amount of discovery. The magistrate denied that motion, finding Plaintiff had not demonstrated good cause for modifying the Court's scheduling order-a conclusion to which Plaintiff objects. Around the same time, Defendant moved for summary judgment. Plaintiff filed three separate motions for an extension of time to respond to that motion. Ultimately, finding lack of good cause, the Court will overrule the objections to the magistrate's order and deny the various motions for an extension of time.[1] Addressing the motion for summary judgment as unopposed, but undertaking a thorough examination of the record, the Court will grant the motion.

         II. Factual and Procedural Background[2]

         Plaintiff Jonathan Layman joined Defendant United Parcel Service, Inc. (“UPS”) as a Plant Engineering Specialist in Louisville, Kentucky in April of 2014. DN 28-2 at 39.[3] At that time, Layman was provided copies of, and training regarding, UPS's Code of Business Conduct, Policy Book, and Equal Employment Opportunity policies. DN 28-3 at 3. The policies included information about UPS's Business Compliance & Ethics Questionnaire (“Questionnaire”). DN 28-2 at 13. The Questionnaire is designed to ensure awareness of UPS's business ethics and compliance policy and seeks disclosure of known or suspected policy violations. Id. at 21. UPS requires all full-time managers, supervisors, and professional specialists worldwide to complete the Questionnaire, typically in the middle of the year. Id. at 13. The requirement to complete the Questionnaire was described during new employee orientation and posted on UPS's intranet, with emails sent as reminders. DN 28-3 at 3.

         Since Layman was hired partway into 2014, he was not required to complete the 2014 Questionnaire. DN 28-2 at 40. Layman completed his first Questionnaire in September 2015. Id. In it, he disclosed some concern that private information about him had been distributed at work with subsequent retaliation for registering those complaints. Id. Contemporaneously, he submitted a written statement to UPS's Human Resources Supervisor Vickie Stepp. Id. at 40-41. In that letter, Layman alleges that “a previous employer . . . hired a private investigator to try and find evidence of some sort of corporate wrongdoing.” DN 28-4 at 3. Layman alleges that the private investigator discovered private information about Layman's “sexual preferences, past sexual relationships, health issues, and personal conversations.” Id. That information, he alleges, then “found its way” to his coworkers at UPS. Id. Upon learning of the sharing of his private information, Layman says he went home and cried, a recording of which was played over the speakers at Layman's workplace. DN 1-1 at 1.

         Layman then filed complaints with state and federal cybercrime units. DN 28-4 at 4. It is unclear from the record at this stage what resulted from those complaints. Afterward, Layman claims he overheard his manager discussing the details of his cybercrime claims with his coworkers, even though Layman had not publicly shared that information. Id. He claims he then noticed changes in the way he was treated at work. Specifically, he alleges that some coworkers became rude or hostile and were making comments about private information. Id. He also claims that rat droppings were collected and placed onto his desk. DN 1-1 at 1.

         After receiving Layman's letter alleging harassment, Stepp interviewed other employees and UPS Corporate Compliance & Ethics Manager Cindy Wren contacted Layman to ask follow-up questions. DN 28-2 at 48-49; DN 28-4 at 2. Layman's concerns could not be substantiated and no further action was taken. DN 28-4 at 2. In response, Layman filed a Charge of Discrimination against UPS with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) on April 25, 2016, alleging that he was being harassed because of his gender/sexual orientation and disability. DN 28-5 at 1. The EEOC summarily dismissed that Charge on May 24, 2016. Id. at 4.

         On or about June 13, 2016, eligible employees (including Layman) were directed to complete the 2016 Questionnaire. DN 28-2 at 67. Layman knew he was required to take the Questionnaire but did not do so. Id. at 52. He received email reminders regarding the Questionnaire requirement on July 6, August 1, August 17, August 24, September 6, September 14, September 19, September 21, October 3, October 4, and October 11, 2016, as well as on January 6, 2017. DN 28-6 at 16-27. By the October 11, 2016 email, Layman was the only employee out of 46, 808 eligible employees worldwide who had not taken the Questionnaire. Id. at 27. Layman also received a phone call from Wren on October 12, 2016, warning him that termination of his employment was possible. Id. at 48-49. On November 4, 2016, Area Human Resources Manager Pamala Cecil Pullen met with Layman in person to encourage him to complete the Questionnaire. DN 28-5 at 2. Layman declined to comply or discuss the Questionnaire, citing his dissatisfaction regarding the handling of his first EEOC Charge. Id.

         On January 6, 2017, Layman met with Human Resources Operations Manager Sharnika Glenn, who told Layman he had to complete the Questionnaire by that afternoon. DN 28-2 at 22-23. Layman refused. Id. at 27. Glenn requested-and Layman provided-a written refusal signed by Layman and witnessed by Glenn and two other employees. DN 28-3 at 38. Layman was then offered one final opportunity to take the Questionnaire. DN 28-2 at 27. When he again declined, Glenn terminated his employment for insubordination. Id. After his discharge, Layman filed another EEOC Charge alleging retaliation. The EEOC summarily dismissed that Charge on September 12, 2017. DN 28-3 at 40. Layman then filed this action on December 8, 2017. DN 1-1 at 1.

         III. Discussion

         As a logical matter, the Court must first address whether to sustain the objection to the magistrate's order and whether to permit an extension of time before addressing the motion for summary judgment. Ultimately, the Court denies both and considers the motion for summary judgment, granting it.

         A. Layman's Objection to the Magistrate's Order

         Following objection to a nondispositive order of a magistrate, the Court may “modify or set aside any part of the order that is clearly erroneous or is contrary to law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(a). See also 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(A). To the extent that no objection is filed, the arguments are waived. Thomas v. Arn, 728 F.2d 813, 815 (6th Cir. 1984), aff'd, 474 U.S. 140, 147-48 (1985). Layman objects to the magistrate's order for three reasons: (1) the magistrate did not consider when the issue arose when determining timeliness; (2) the magistrate failed to consider good cause when determining timeliness; and (3) the magistrate relied on a mootness argument.

         “We live in a world of deadlines. . . . A good judge sets deadlines, and the judge has a right to assume that deadlines will be honored.” Dunning v. War Mem 'l Hosp., 534 Fed.Appx. 326, 332 (6th Cir. 2013) (citation omitted). However, with regard to those deadlines “the court may, for good cause, extend the time with or without motion or notice if the court acts, or if a request is made, before the original time or its extension expires.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 6(b)(1)(A). The primary measure of the “good cause” standard is the moving party's diligence in attempting to meet the deadlines, though courts may also consider prejudice to the nonmoving party. Inge v. Rock Fin Corp., 281 F.3d 613, 625 (6th Cir. 2002). Merely proceeding pro se is insufficient, standing alone, to provide good cause. Jourdan v. Jabe, 951 F.2d 108, 110 (6th Cir. 1991). Good cause is particularly lacking where there has been “a clear pattern of delay.” Id.

         While the magistrate did not specifically reference “good cause” in her order, it is clear to the Court she considered it. In the discovery context, “[a] district court may properly deny a motion to compel discovery where the motion to compel was filed after the close of discovery.” Pittman v. Experian Info. Sys., 901 F.3d 619, 642 (6th Cir. 2018) (citation omitted). See also Morris v. Zurich Am. Ins. Co., No. 5:16-CV-129-TBR-LLK, 2018 WL 1875295, at *2 (W.D. Ky. April 19, 2018) (“Motions to compel filed after the discovery deadline are almost always deemed untimely.”) (collecting cases).

         Certainly, a motion to compel filed after the close of discovery could be proper when a party subject to discovery requests fails to provide information until the end of the discovery period and the motion to compel is filed in a timely manner afterward. However, that scenario is not presented in this case. Here, discovery closed on December 3, 2018. The motion to compel was not filed until January 28, 2019-almost two months later. Such a lapse is sufficiently late to be denied as untimely. See Craig-Wood v. Time Warner N.Y. Cable LLC, 549 Fed.Appx. 505, 508 (6th Cir. 2014) (affirming district court conclusion that a motion to compel filed two months after close of discovery was untimely); Morris, 2018 WL 1875295, at *2 (motion to compel filed two months after close of all discovery was untimely).

         As for the final argument regarding mootness, the magistrate makes no reference to this argument in her order and does not appear to rely on it. Regardless, since she was justified in denying the motion on other grounds, even assuming error arguendo, the error would be harmless. As a result, the Court cannot say that the ...


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