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Mynatt v. Lockheed Martin Energy Systems

September 13, 2006


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Thomas W. Phillips United States District Judge


Plaintiff Doyle Mynatt has sued his former employer, Lockheed Martin Energy Systems, Inc. (LMES), alleging racial discrimination in employment through discriminatory selection, promotion, compensation, and disciplinary policies, practices and procedures, discriminatory terms and conditions of employment, and the existence and perpetuation of a racially hostile work environment in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 2000e, et seq., (Title VII) and 42 U.S.C. § 1981 as amended. He also alleges that because of his race he was wrongfully selected for layoff in 1999, wrongfully required to turn in his security badge, and wrongfully had his picture posted at portals with instructions not to allow him on the premises. Defendant LMES has moved for summary judgment asserting that there are no genuine issues as to material facts, and that LMES is entitled to judgment as a matter of law on all of plaintiff's claims. For the reasons which follow, defendant's motion for summary judgment will be granted, and this action will be dismissed.

Factual Background

Beginning April 1, 1984, pursuant to a contract with the Department of Energy (DOE), LMES managed, operated and maintained the Y-12 facility in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. LMES' contract for operating the Y-12 facility ended on October 31, 2000, and BWXT assumed management and operation on November 1, 2000. Mynatt, an African-American male was employed by LMES and the predecessor government contractors at Y-12 from 1980 until his termination as part of a reduction in force in November 1999.

Prior to coming to work at Y-12, Mynatt had earned a bachelor's degree in Communications from the University of Tennessee, then spent approximately eighteen months working for radio stations and as a TV reporter. Mynatt started as a uniformed Security Inspector at Y-12. After two years, he was awarded a position of Material Dispatcher in the Weapons Material Management Department. In 1984, he became a Video Aide in the Video Department of the Public Relations Division. In 1985, he was promoted to Video Associate. While he held this position, Mynatt served as assistant to Mike Shepherd, then a Producer/Director. Shepherd later became supervisor of the department. In 1990, Mynatt was promoted to the position of Producer/Director. In that position, he produced and directed videotaped programs for the DOE facilities at Oak Ridge. He remained in that position until his termination in November 1999.


Mynatt alleges that in 1994, a department head position became available, but the position was not posted by LMES. John Ridley, a white male employee from a different department, filled the opening. As of February 1993, Ridley was manager of Photography and Mike Shepherd was manager of Video. Both positions were then in the Graphics Division. At the time, LMES was making a series of rotation moves. The Graphics Division utilized a rotation process to have Ridley and Shepherd exchange positions. Each had some background in the work of the other and the purpose of the exchange was to "broaden the base" and expand the knowledge of the two section leaders. These were considered lateral moves by LMES, and posting of the position was not required.

In 1995, Shepherd was promoted and became Manager over the Video and Photography departments. Ridley remained Supervisor of Video and reported to Shepherd. Mynatt alleges that in 1998 the Head of the Video Teleconferencing position became available but was not posted and was filled by a white employee with less education. LMES states that there was not a position known as Head of Video Teleconferencing. Prior to 1998 the IMS department was asked to provide this service and it started to do so. John Buck, a Producer/Director, had some background in the work and volunteered for it in the late 1980's. By 1998 there had been a growth in the volume of the work to the point Buck spent approximately 60 percent of his time on teleconferencing and 25 percent of his time on traditional video work of the kind done by Mynatt. There did not come a time when a position known as Head of Video Teleconferencing existed. There was never a "vacancy" for LMES to post. Buck became proficient in the work as it grew and he continued to do it as a part of his classification as Producer/Director. Because of his success with teleconferencing, he was elevated to Salary Grade 5. Mynatt was cross-trained to perform teleconference duties should the need arise.

Pay Discrimination

Mynatt alleges that he was discriminated against in his compensation, as Walter Corey, a white Producer/Director was paid more than him. Corey came to the Video Department in 1981. He became a Salary Grade 3 employee in 1986 and a Producer/Director in 1989, also a Salary Grade 3 position. Mynatt came to the Video Department in 1984 in a weekly salary position. He became a Salary Grade 1 employee in 1989. In 1990, he became a Producer/Director, at Salary Grade 3.

Salary increases at LMES were initially determined by the Compensation Department, a central office. Increases were determined by the Compensation Department on the basis of three factors: (1) the funds available for increases; (2) the employee's performance evaluations; and (3) the position of the employee within the salary rate range for the position held. The Compensation Department would inform the employee's management of its determination. Management had the discretion to change the increase slightly based on specific performance factors or leave it as made by the Compensation Department.

The first year that Corey and Mynatt held the same position (Producer/Director) was 1990. Their respective monthly salaries and performance evaluations from 1990 to 1999 are as follows:

  Corey  Mynatt  1990$2898CX5.69%$2432CM13.13% 1991$3057CS5.48%$2530CM4.02% 1992$3197CS4.57%$2790CM10.6% 1993$3299CM3.19%$2935CX4.97% 1994------DPPR-----------DPPR----- 1995$3480DPPR5.48%$3067DPPR4.99% 1996$3591CX3.18%$3184CM3.81% 1997$3681CM2.50%$3267CM2.60% 1998$3780CX2.68%$3362CM2.90% 1999$3966CM4.92%$3580CM6.48%

As shown above, the difference in the salaries of Corey and Mynatt narrowed during the period shown. In 1990, the difference was $466 per month. In 1999, it was $386 per month. In six of the nine years, Mynatt's percentage increase was greater than that of Corey, including his last four years under Ridley's supervision.

Ridley was aware that Corey made more money than Mynatt, but explained that Corey "had been at it a lot longer" than Mynatt and his experience predated his employment with LMES. Ridley also pointed to Corey's work with classified videotapes and his attention to detail in handling that information. Ridley testified that Corey "was a good producer and very competent in what he did, very conscientious, very eager to please the customer, did what he had to do to get the job done." Ridley reviewed the determinations made by the Compensation Department for both Corey and Mynatt and made no change in the determination. Shepherd's recollection was that neither he nor Donna Griffith, the IMS division head, made any changes.

Hostile Work Environment

Mynatt alleges he was subjected to a racially hostile work environment tolerated and encouraged by LMES' supervisors and managers. During Mynatt's employment in the Video Department he had three direct supervisors. He also worked with other non-supervisory employees in the department. His supervisors were Robert Wesley, Mike Shepherd and John Ridley. He makes no allegations of discrimination by Wesley or Shepherd. Mynatt thought Wesley was excessively "under the thumb" as a manager, but he acknowledged that Wesley treated all employees that way. Mynatt said he had differences of opinion with Shepherd on the composition and editing of projects, but that he had no personal problems with him, that his relationship "was satisfactory."

Mynatt had a different view of Ridley as a supervisor and his relationship with him. He testified that he "dealt with Ridley on a professional level recognizing his position and his authority in that position. We had differences in terms of the craft itself, and because of those differences, it somewhat put a strain on our relationship within the department." Asked if Ridley treated him respectfully he said, "He did not manage me outside the realm of proper procedure."

Mynatt stated that he took offense to a Christmas card he had been given by Ridley that depicted an orangutan and the language, "hang in there." Ridley was asked about it. He said he had no knowledge of the card; that the only cards exchanged with staff were birthday cards signed by everyone.

Later in his deposition, Mynatt stated the differences with Ridley in stronger terms. Mynatt testified that everything he did was "criticized to the point were it was demeaned." Asked if he had ever had an argument with Ridley of a serious or harsh nature, Mynatt testified that they had arguments in terms of differences in the way he did things on the set that was different from Ridley. He felt that Ridley tried to impose his ideology and philosophy of how to do certain things on him, and they had arguments about those things. Mynatt stated that it was not personal, it never went beyond the realm of discussion.

Mynatt testified about an incident in the early 1990s in which he videotaped a scene at a low angle with a woman in a short dress. Mynatt thought it was nothing more than one saw on network television. Ridley thought it was not appropriate and had it redone. Mynatt was gone for a week on training at the time the scene was redone. Mynatt spoke to Ridley upon his return and expressed his disagreement with the decision to redo the scene. Mynatt was offended that it was done while he was absent without prior discussion with him. Ridley felt that the scene was not appropriate and he faced a deadline to complete the project, so he did not consult with Mynatt prior to redoing the scene.

Another matter involved Mynatt's work schedule. Mynatt was a Salary Level 3 and thus an "exempt" employee under the Fair Labor Standards Act. Mynatt felt this entitled him to work a flexible schedule. Ridley, however, felt that Mynatt was not working a full 8-hour day or 40 hours per week. Ridley ...

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