Chavez v. Superior Industries, Inc.
MEMORANDUM OPINION. Signed by Honorable Jimm Larry Hendren on October 16, 2012. (tg)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
WESTERN DISTRICT OF ARKANSAS
Civil No. 12-5009
SUPERIOR INDUSTRIES, INC.
consideration Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment (document
#13), to which plaintiff has not responded. The Court, being well
and sufficiently advised, finds and orders as follows:
This is an employment discrimination case in which
plaintiff Rodolfo Chavez alleges he was terminated from his
employment with defendant Superior Industries due to his age and
These are the undisputed facts:
At all relevant times during this case, Jeff Hicks was
International, Arkansas LLC (Superior), located at 1301 North
Dixieland Road, Rogers, Arkansas.
automotive industry, operates a manufacturing plant in Rogers,
Superior maintains personnel records of its employees
and employment policies in the ordinary course of business, and
Mr. Hicks had access to and custody of such information as the
Acting Human Resources Manager for Superior.
According to Mr. Hicks' review of personnel records, Mr.
Chavez last received a copy of Superior's Employee Handbook on
December 2, 2010.
Pursuant to a signed receipt, Mr. Chavez acknowledged
that he received a copy of Superior's Equal Employment Opportunity
policy located in the handbook.
The Employee Conduct and Work Rules Policy is contained
in the handbook, as well.
On July 6, 2011, Mr. Chavez was employed as a melt
handler working in Superior's Melt Department.
As a melt handler, Mr. Chavez's primary job duties
included the transport of molten metal from a melting furnace to
a series of small holding pots that supply casting machines with
It is critical that holding pots do not run low or out
of metal. If a holding pot runs low or is out of metal, extensive
damage and down time will occur.
When a holding pot is running low of metal, a flashing
light appears on the holding pot. The flashing light indicates
that the holding pot should receive priority over metal pots
without flashing lights.
On July 6, 2011, Team Lead Mario Guzman had supervisory
authority over Mr. Chavez. Mr. Guzman had the authority to direct
Mr. Chavez's work activity.
On July 6, 2011, Mr Guzman instructed Mr. Chavez to pour
molten metal into Machine #25. At that time, Machine #25 was a
holding pot with a flashing light. Mr. Chavez refused to follow
Mr. Guzman's instructions and instead continued to fill other
holding pots without flashing lights.
On July 6, 2011, Mr. Chavez became angry with Mr.
Guzman's instructions and walked out of the building. Mr. Chavez
abandoned his position at a critical time during his shift. On
July 6, 2011, Mr. Chavez was insubordinate and refused to follow
critical work instructions.
Mr. Hicks met with Mr. Chavez on July 7, 2011, and
interviewed him about the events of July 6, 2011.
During the meeting on July 7, 2011, Mr. Chavez indicated
to Mr. Hicks that his Team Lead, Mr. Guzman, had instructed Mr.
Chavez to pour molten metal into a holding pot with a flashing
light. Mr. Chavez further indicated to Mr. Hicks that he had
refused to follow Mr. Guzman's instructions and instead continued
to fill the other holding pots without flashing lights.
During the meeting, Mr. Hicks specifically asked Mr.
Chavez why he refused to follow Mr. Guzman's instructions. Mr.
Chavez indicated to Mr. Hicks that he "felt like he knew more than
frustrated with Mr. Guzman and his co-worker and walked off the
job, leaving the building.
After the July 7, 2011 meeting, Mr. Hicks determined
that Mr. Chavez should be placed on suspension pending further
Mr. Chavez was terminated from Superior on or about July
14, 2011, because Mr. Chavez was insubordinate on July 6, 2011,
walked off of the job on July 6, 2011, and had a documented
history of at least four prior performance issues. Mr. Hicks
Superior first learned of Mr. Chavez's discrimination
concerns when it received his Charge of Discrimination with the
Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
Mr. Chavez filed his Charge of Discrimination on August
8, 2011, alleging that he was discriminated against between July
7, 2011, and July 14, 2011. In the Charge of Discrimination, Mr.
genuine dispute as to any material fact and the moving party is
entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed. R. Civ. P.56(a).
affidavits which demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of
material fact, the nonmoving party must go beyond the pleadings
and, by its own affidavits or discovery, set out specific facts
showing a genuine issue for trial. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477
U.S. 317, 323 (1986). If the nonmoving party fails to do so, the
moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Id.
In his Complaint, Mr. Chavez states that he "never
denied to perform the job" and that "there is no evidence of the
insubordination." He further states, "I believe I was discharged
based on my national origin, subsequently also by my age." Mr.
Chavez offers no other evidence to support either claim.
To the extent Mr. Chavez alleges discrimination based on
his age, that claim must fail because there is no indication that
the claim was raised before the EEOC. The proper exhaustion of
administrative remedies is necessary before a claim for age
discrimination may be brought in federal court. Parisi v. Boeing
Co., 400 F.3d 583, 585 (8th Cir. 2005). Mr. Chavez's Charge of
Discrimination claimed only discrimination due to his national
origin, and he has presented no evidence of any other Charge
before the EEOC.
With regard to his national-origin discrimination claim,
Mr. Chavez has failed to present a prima facie case. In the
absence of direct evidence of discrimination, the plaintiff bears
the burden of establishing a case that creates a presumption of
unlawful discrimination by the employer. Rothmeier v. Investment
Advisers, Inc., 85 F.3d 1328, 1332 (8th Cir. 1996). Mr. Chavez has
not done so. He has presented nothing, other than the bare
assertions contained in his Complaint, from which the Court can
determine that Superior unlawfully terminated his employment. To
the contrary, Superior has presented evidence of legitimate,
nondiscriminatory reasons for its personnel decisions affecting
Mr. Chavez. Therefore, there is no genuine issue of material fact,
and Superior is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.
IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED that Defendant's Motion for Summary
Judgment (document #13) is hereby granted. This matter will be
dismissed by separate order.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
/s/ Jimm Larry Hendren
JIMM LARRY HENDREN
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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