CROCKETT v. Mabus
ORDER granting 15 Motion for Summary Judgment. Ordered by U.S. District Judge CLAY D LAND on 07/08/2014 (jcs)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE MIDDLE DISTRICT OF GEORGIA
LARRY ALAN CROCKETT,
CASE NO. 1:13-CV-9 (CDL)
O R D E R
Larry Alan Crockett (“Crockett”), an employee at the Marine
Corp Logistics Base (“LOGCOM”) in Albany, Georgia since 1976,
has not always seen eye to eye with his superiors.
And according to him, their conduct has created a
hostile working environment.
But incompetence, ineffectiveness,
and hostility do not generally give rise to legal claims under
To reach this Court, those claims must arise due
to an employee’s protected characteristic such as race or age.
And so, Crockett has attempted to couch his claims in those
based on his race and age, and then retaliated against him when
he complained of that discrimination.
He seeks relief pursuant
to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (“Title VII”), 42
U.S.C. § 2000e et seq., and the Age Discrimination in Employment
Act (“ADEA”), 29 U.S.C. § 621 et seq.
The Defendant employer
(“the Navy”) responds that its actions had nothing to do with
Because Crockett has failed to point to any
evidence from which a reasonable factfinder could conclude that
the Navy’s stated legitimate, non-discriminatory reasons for its
actions were pretext for unlawful discrimination or retaliation,
Navy’s motion for summary judgment (ECF No. 15) is granted.
SUMMARY JUDGMENT STANDARD
Summary judgment may be granted only “if the movant shows
that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the
movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.”
material fact exists to defeat a motion for summary judgment,
the evidence is viewed in the light most favorable to the party
opposing summary judgment, drawing all justifiable inferences in
the opposing party’s favor.
477 U.S. 242, 255 (1986).
Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc.,
A fact is material if it is relevant
or necessary to the outcome of the suit.
Id. at 248.
dispute is genuine if the evidence would allow a reasonable jury
to return a verdict for the nonmoving party.
Viewed in the light most favorable to Crockett, the record
reveals the following.
LOGCOM in 1976 as an information technology specialist in the
known as “C4.”
During his career, Crockett has often criticized
Many of his complaints have nothing to do with
raised complaints of race and age discrimination in January 2010
when he initiated contact with an Equal Employment Opportunity
[hereinafter Def.’s SMF] Ex. A, EEO Precompl. Intake Sheet 1,
ECF No. 16-1.
After mediation failed to resolve his complaints,
Crockett filed a formal EEO complaint in March 2010.
Ex. B, EEO Counselor’s Report 3, ECF No. 16-2.
When the Equal
Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) did not find in his
favor, Crockett filed the present action.
He alleges that the
Navy discriminated and retaliated against him when his superiors
failed to promote him, gave him certain unfavorable performance
Compl. ¶¶ 4, 6, 9, ECF No. 1.
discrimination against certain federal agency employees on the
protects employees from retaliation for making a charge of such
42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e-3(a), 2000e-16(a).
similarly prohibits employment discrimination because of the age
complaining of age discrimination.
29 U.S.C. § 633a(a); Gomez-
Perez v. Potter, 553 U.S. 474, 477 (2008).
discrimination or retaliation by circumstantial evidence under
the burden-shifting framework established in McDonnell Douglas
Corp. v. Green, 411 U.S. 792, 802-04 (1973).
See Sims v. MVM,
Inc., 704 F.3d 1327, 1332 (11th Cir. 2013) (explaining that this
Title VII framework also applies to ADEA claims even after Gross
v. FBL Fin. Servs., Inc., 557 U.S. 167 (2009)); see also Smith
v. City of Fort Pierce, Fla., No. 12-15064, 2014 WL 1687746, at
*1, *3 (11th Cir. Apr. 30, 2014) (analyzing retaliation claims
under this framework even after Univ. of Tex. Sw. Med. Ctr. v.
discrimination or retaliation under the appropriate statute; if
he does so, the burden shifts to the defendant to articulate a
Crawford v. City of Fairburn, Ga., 482 F.3d 1305, 1308 (11th
The burden then shifts back to the plaintiff to
discrimination or retaliation.
Failure to Promote
Crockett has not clearly alleged in his judicial complaint
which promotions he was denied due to his race, age, or EEO
He does allege in his March 25, 2010 EEO complaint
and June 23, 2010 amendment that he should have been, but was
not, promoted in January 1995 “due to management incompetence
16-10 at 23.
Def.’s SMF Ex. J, 2d Am. EEO Compl. 1, ECF No.
It is clear that such a claim would be barred by
the 180-day limitations period to file a charge with the EEOC
after the alleged discriminatory act.
42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5(e)(1)
(Title VII); 29 U.S.C. § 626(d)(1)(A) (ADEA).
But even if it
were not time-barred, the claim must still be dismissed because
Crockett has failed to point to any evidence that his race, age,
or EEO activity had anything to do with the failure to promote
Management incompetence and favoritism, as long as not
race or age-based, do not support a cause of action under the
federal civil rights statutes. 1
Crockett does make reference to other denied promotions, but he has
For example, Crockett mentions the promotion of
performance of their jobs and their treatment of him.
two of the complained of employment actions arguably qualify as
sufficiently adverse to give rise to a possible cause of action. 2
First, Crockett complains that his supervisor Debra Capers, a
black female born in 1957, threatened to and did place him under
Jackie Mitchell, a black male, explaining “that this assignment was
strictly because he was a MATCOM favorite.” Def.’s SMF Ex. J, Formal
EEO Compl. 12, ECF No. 16-10 at 15.
MATCOM was an outside
organization previously directed by Melvin Leonard, a white male born
in 1957, who subsequently transferred to C4 and made that promotion
decision. The only evidence relied on by Crockett in support of his
claims of discrimination is an isolated statement from Mitchell, the
person who received the promotion, to Crockett that he was “too old
for the supervisory job.” Def.’s SMF Ex. J, 2d Am. EEO Compl. 2, ECF
nondecisionmakers or statements made by decisionmakers unrelated to
the decisional process do not demonstrate discriminatory intent.”
Rowell v. BellSouth Corp., 433 F.3d 794, 802 (11th Cir. 2005)
(internal quotation marks omitted).
Crockett also complains that
Mitchell subsequently refused to promote him for another position, but
he fails to identify the race or age of the successful candidate.
Formal EEO Compl. 14, ECF No. 16-10 at 17; see Vessels v. Atlanta
Indep. Sch. Sys., 408 F.3d 763, 768 (11th Cir. 2005) (per curiam)
(setting forth the elements of a prima facie failure to promote claim,
including that “the position was filled with an individual outside the
protected class”). Finally, Crockett even complains that Mitchell did
promote him, but only after the first candidate of unspecified
race/age declined the offer. Formal EEO Compl. 14, ECF No. 16-10 at
17. None of Crockett’s failure to promote claims are supported by any
evidence that the decisions were based on Crockett’s age, race, or EEO
activity. Therefore, those claims fail as a matter of law.
For example, Crockett complains about interim performance ratings and
letters of caution but offers no evidence that they had any impact on
his employment status or advancement.
Consequently, because they do
not constitute “a serious and material change in the terms,
conditions, or privileges of employment . . . as viewed by a
reasonable person in the circumstances,” they are not actionable.
Davis v. Town of Lake Park, Fla., 245 F.3d 1232, 1239 (11th Cir.
a national “pay for performance” system known as NSPS for the
hidden purpose of giving him low performance ratings to justify
not raising his pay.
2d Am. EEO Compl. 4, ECF No. 16-10 at 26;
Formal EEO Compl. 16, ECF No. 16-10 at 19.
ratings of “2” for his 2010 annual assessment, which resulted in
Def.’s SMF Ex. Q, 2010 NSPS Performance Appraisal 2-7, ECF No.
16-17; Def.’s SMF Ex. P, 2010 NSPS Pay Pool Form, ECF No. 16-16;
Crockett complains that he was reprimanded in 2007 for a system
crash and data loss for which he was not responsible.
EEO Compl. 13-15, ECF No. 16-10 at 16-18; Def.’s SMF Ex. D,
undisputed that Jackie Mitchell issued Crockett a formal letter
of reprimand, Def.’s SMF Ex. C, Letter of Reprimand, ECF No. 163, and Melvin Leonard transferred Crockett from the Enterprise
Systems Division to a nontechnical position in the Plans and
Policy Branch, Def.’s SMF Ex. E, Leonard Decl. ¶¶ 7-9, ECF No.
Enterprise Systems Division.
The Court is skeptical of whether Crockett has made out a
employees outside his class were treated more favorably.
Wilson v. B/E Aerospace, Inc., 376 F.3d 1079, 1087 (11th Cir.
2004) (“A plaintiff establishes a prima facie case of disparate
action in contrast with similarly situated employees outside the
Instead, he quarrels with the justification
for the employment decisions, asking the Court to infer that
But even if the Court assumes Crockett could
discriminatory reasons for these actions.
Def.’s SMF Ex. F, Capers Decl. ¶¶ 4-11, ECF No.
16-6; Leonard Decl. ¶¶ 14-16.
Because these are reasons that
unfavorable performance rating, Crockett must meet each “reason
head on and rebut it” and “cannot succeed by simply quarreling
with the wisdom of that reason.”
Chapman v. AI Transp., 229
F.3d 1012, 1030 (11th Cir. 2000).
While Crockett attempts to
rebut that his performance was deficient, Formal EEO Compl. 1617, ECF No. 16-10 at 19-20, he points to no evidence that the
rebut the Navy’s explanation that his performance evaluation was
due in part to his poor attitude.
See Crawford, 482 F.3d at
nondiscriminatory reason, the plaintiff must rebut each of the
reasons to survive a motion for summary judgment.”).
explains that it determined that Crockett’s role in the system
Leonard Decl. ¶¶ 2, 4-7, 9-13.
Specifically, Leonard explains
that while Crockett was in charge of the database, he failed to
assure proper backup of the data.
Again, since this reason
is one that could motivate a reasonable employer to take action
against an employee, Crockett must rebut Leonard’s reason head
quarrelling with the ultimate decision.
Chapman, 229 F.3d at
Crockett points to no evidence that he made sure the data
was properly backed up while in charge; instead he gives excuses
Formal EEO Compl. 13-15, ECF No. 16-10 at 16-18; Rebuttal of
Letter of Reprimand 3-6.
This is not sufficient evidence of
pretext to avoid summary judgment.
Even when viewing the record in the light most favorable to
Crockett, the Court finds no evidence that the Navy’s proffered
were pretext to cover up discriminatory animus based on race or
Consequently, the Navy is entitled to summary judgment on
III. Racially Hostile or Age-Based Hostile Work Environment
Crockett believes that he was forced to work in a hostile
While perhaps unpleasant, hostility alone does not
give rise to a federal cause of action.
The hostility Crockett
alteration to the terms and conditions of his employment.
environment described by Crockett was neither.
For example, Crockett complains that the deputy director of
C4 has “verbally assaulted [him] at least three times,” Formal
EEO Compl. 16, ECF No. 16-10 at 19; but he provides no detail as
to the content of her words that would indicate any racism or
showing the severity of the alleged verbal assaults.
To be actionable under Title VII or the ADEA, Crockett must
intimidation, ridicule, and insult that [i]s sufficiently severe
or pervasive to alter the conditions of [his] employment and
create an abusive working environment.”
Jones v. UPS Ground
Freight, 683 F.3d 1283, 1299 (11th Cir. 2012) (third alteration
The antidiscrimination statutes “do not prohibit
discriminates based on a protected category.”
Baldwin v. Blue
Cross/Blue Shield of Ala., 480 F.3d 1287, 1301-02 (11th Cir.
Miller v. Kenworth of Dothan, Inc., 277 F.3d 1269,
1275 (11th Cir. 2002) (emphasis added); see also Cobb v. City of
Roswell, Ga. ex rel. Wood, 533 F. App’x 888, 897 (11th Cir.
2013) (per curiam) (applying same elements to ADEA claim).
With the exception of one isolated comment sometime before
2007 about being “too old,” 2d Am. EEO Compl. 2, ECF No. 16-10
at 24, Crockett has pointed to no other derogatory reference to
his race or age.
He simply makes vague, general allegations
that black employees were treated more favorably than whites by
some black supervisors.
This is not enough.
A general feeling
of unfairness based on a subjective belief of discrimination
certainly does not show that the harassment was “sufficiently
Miller, 277 F.3d at 1275.
Because no reasonable
judgment on these claims.
Crockett also alleges that his superiors retaliated against
him after he initiated EEO activity in January 2010.
on the same adverse actions for his retaliation claims that he
pointed to in support of his race and age discrimination claims.
As previously explained, Crockett has failed to demonstrate that
taking those actions were a pretext for unlawful discrimination
burden on pretext under the McDonnell Douglas burden-shifting
produce evidence from which a reasonable jury could find that
Nassar, 133 S. Ct. at 2533-34.
While the Court
analyzes retaliation claims under the McDonnell Douglas burden-
shifting framework and thus a failure to show pretext is fatal
to a retaliation claim, “the plaintiff always has the burden of
reasonable fact finder to conclude that [retaliatory] animus was
the ‘but-for’ cause of the adverse employment action.’” Smith,
2014 WL 1687746, at *1, *3 (quoting Sims, 704 F.3d at 1332).
Thus, when such causation evidence is lacking, that also dooms a
For these reasons, the Navy is entitled to
summary judgment on Crockett’s retaliation claims.
For the reasons explained in this Order, the Navy’s motion
for summary judgment (ECF No. 15) is granted.
IT IS SO ORDERED, this 8th day of July, 2014.
S/Clay D. Land
CLAY D. LAND
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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