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Andrews v. Lockheed Martin Energy Systems

September 21, 2006


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



Plaintiff James Andrews has sued his former employers, Lockheed Martin Energy Systems, Inc. (LMES) and BWXT Y-12, L.L.C. (BWXT), alleging systemic 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. Defendants LMES and BWXT have moved for summary judgment asserting that there are no genuine issues as to material facts, and that they are entitled to judgment as a matter of law on all of plaintiff's claims. For the reasons which follow, defendants' 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, 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.

Andrews, an African-American male, was employed by LMES and the predecessor government contractors at Y-12 from 1978 until October 31, 2000. Beginning November 1, 2000, Andrews worked at BWXT until he terminated his employment by going on long-term disability on January 29, 2002.

Andrews began his Y-12 career as a building services employee, a position he held for about eleven months. He successfully bid on a material handler position and worked in that capacity from March 1979 until October 1987. He then bid upon and became a material clerk, the position he held until he terminated his employment by going on long term disability.

When Andrews started as a material handler, he joined the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Local 519. He remained an active member of Local 519 until he resigned his membership in either the late 1980s or early 1990s. His resignation from Local 519 related to a dispute that did not involve race. Even after his resignation, Local 519 periodically handled grievances for Andrews.

During Andrews' employment at Y-12, the terms and conditions of his employment were governed by contracts between the respective government contractors and the Atomic Trades and Labor Council (ATLC). The contracts between the government contractors and the ATLC governed the rate of pay for material handlers and material clerks. Those contracts also contained provisions prohibiting racial discrimination.

Neither LMES nor BWXT ever took any disciplinary action against Andrews. Andrews could not recall even receiving informal counseling for unsatisfactory job performance at Y-12.

EEO/AA Policies

At LMES/BWXT, employment was subject to the company's Equal Employment Opportunity/Affirmative Action (EEO/AA) policy. The policy prohibits discrimination based on race, religion, color, sex, national origin and age. The policy covered recruitment and employment, promotion, demotion, transfer, layoff and termination, and other working conditions, including maintenance of a work environment free of physical, psychological, and verbal harassment on the basis of age, sex, ancestry, color, disability, national origin, race/ethnicity, religion/creed, or veteran status. An Employee Concern Response Program (ECRP) was also promulgated in the LMES Employee Handbook. The ECRP encouraged employees to report concerns about EEO/AA matters to their direct manager or the next appropriate level of management. Concerns could be reported orally or in writing. Other avenues for reporting concerns included the bargaining unit, Safety and Health representatives, the Y-12 Safety Work Action Team, and the I Care - We Care Program.

Hostile Environment

Andrews claims that he was subjected to a hostile work environment during his employment at LMES and BWXT. Andrews testified that he did not hear any LMES managers or employees use racially insensitive language in his presence. Similarly, Andrews did not hear any racial slurs or epithets directed toward him while he was a BWXT employee. When asked what he meant by "racially hostile work environment," Andrews stated:

As I said, we do a lot of classified work, and Jim, well, Jim Rose used to actually, he used to follow me and this other African-American when we eat or where we go, what kind of work are we doing, and he didn't seem to follow no other people, you know.

And when you are dealing with chemicals and dangerous stuff, it is hard to - well, for me, I get a little nervous when people looking over your shoulder, sneaking around. It makes me uncomfortable, you know. And then, you know, he makes little comments and stuff, you know, so -What kind of comments?

Like, What are you doing or Why do you do this? And I said, well you know, I do it - you know, I think I do it the safe way, the best way that I know how, you know. And I said, you know, I said, you know, I hadn't had any accident or hadn't had no complaints, you know.

Why are you doing this for certain folks or why are you doing this? I said, Well, you know - And, as I said, sometime he accused us of hiding and doing all of this kind of stuff. And it is - I mean, it is just stuff, because he -

And he might call us back and tell the dispatcher, Well, he is sitting so and so, see if you can find something for him to do. What are you doing sitting back here? What are you doing sitting up here? I mean, he is always complaining about something, you know.

And then when you do something, you know, he just - he just agitates us, you know. And it - you know, when people are sneaking around, it makes me feel uncomfortable, you know, it just makes me feel uncomfortable.

Jim Rose was Andrews' direct supervisor from April 1995 until Rose retired on October 31, 1999. Rose was responsible for ensuring that materials were packaged and delivered in accordance with internal customers' requirements. Part of Rose's responsibilities required him to ensure that his subordinates were performing their jobs. When he was unable to locate a subordinate or the subordinate failed to answer radio dispatches, Rose often searched Y-12 to find that employee. Rose had a direct management style that occasionally included blunt criticism and directing idle employees to perform productive work. Rose was blunt to employees without regard to race.

From April 1995 until January 29, 2002, Andrews worked as a materials clerk in Y-12's west end. The west end is a protected area where many of the facility's most sensitive buildings and materials were located. Andrews' work assignments required him to drive a truck to pick and deliver classified and non-classified materials throughout Y-12. Some of the materials that Andrews transported were hazardous.

Work assignments for material clerks and material handlers were generally made by the shift dispatcher, although the front-line supervisor had such authority as well. Janet Eskridge, an African-American, was the dispatcher on most of the shifts that Andrews worked and, therefore, was responsible for most of his assignments. Eskridge maintained a log in which she recorded information relating to job assignments for individuals reporting to Rose, including Andrews.

On June 17, 1999, Rose witnessed Andrews and a white employee talking during their shift as Rose drove past them in a truck. Rose returned later and observed Andrews and the white individual still talking. Rose pointed his finger at the men and said, "Boys, you don't want to get on my list" or words similar to that effect. This was the only incident where Rose used language that Andrews thought was objectionable.

On June 18, 1999, Andrews complained to Doug Woodall about the statement made by Rose, and Woodall brought the incident to Steve Buffalo's attention. Buffalo was a general supervisor, and was Rose's direct supervisor. Buffalo and Woodall subsequently met with Andrews and John Ward, who Andrews asked to attend the meeting, to investigate the complaint. During the meeting, Andrews stated that he had been talking to a co-worker, Tom Minga, when Rose approached them in the truck. Andrews said that Rose asked him why he did not answer his "damn" radio, and that Eskridge, the dispatcher, had attempted to each Andrews without any success. Andrews then told Buffalo that he had not heard Eskridge's dispatches. According to Andrews, Rose subsequently stated "Boy, you don't want to get on my list," and pointed his finger at him. Andrews complained to Buffalo that he felt threatened by Rose's remake and gesture.

On June 22, Buffalo met with Rose to investigate Andrews' complaint. Dave Bryant, who supervised Woodall, was also present. Rose admitted, during this meeting, that he had used the term "boy," but denied that the comment was racially motivated. He explained that it was not unusual for him to use the expression "boy" when addressing employees who were younger than him, regardless of race. Rose said that he would apologize to Andrews and Bryant counseled Rose for making the inappropriate comment.

Buffalo and Rose met with Andrews later that same day. Ward also attended the meeting at Andrews' request. Rose apologized to Andrews for using the word "boy." Buffalo explained to Rose and Andrews that Rose needed to be more tactful with his choice of words. Buffalo further suggested to Rose that he allow Eskridge to dispatch vehicle assignments, including assignments given to Andrews, to avoid future problems. Finally, Buffalo advised Andrews to report to him any additional problems with Rose. Rose ...

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