United States District Court, D. Utah
MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER
A. KIMBALL, United States District Judge.
matter is before the court on Defendant Coates Electrical
& Instrumentation's (Coates Electrical) Motion for
Summary Judgment. On May 17, 2018, the court held a hearing
on the motion. At the hearing, the Plaintiff James Allen
Evans (Evans) was represented by Neil D. Skousen and Coates
Electrical was represented by Ryan P. Atkinson and Jessica J.
Johnston. The court took the motion under advisement. Based
on the briefing filed by the parties and the law and facts
relevant to the pending motion, the court issues the
following Memorandum Decision and Order.
case involves a claim for racial discrimination. Evans used
the staffing agency TradeForce to find temporary employment.
Tradeforce assigned Evans to work as an Apprentice
Electrician for Coates Electrical in April 2015. On April 8,
2015, Evans had an interaction with Brandon Hansen, a project
manager for the company. The altercation forms the basis of
who is black, was sent by his supervisor to retrieve a tool
from the toolshed. Hansen saw Evans in the toolshed and asked
what Evans was doing. Evans told Hansen he was looking for a
tool as directed by his supervisor. Hansen responded,
“Boy, you work for me.” Evans requested Hansen
not call him “boy.” When Hansen did not stop
using the term, Evans told Hansen he was going to complain to
Coates Electrical and TradeForce about race discrimination.
In response, Evans alleges that Hansen said, “Boy, take
off that harness. You are out of here. You're
fired.” See James Evans Depo. (Dkt. No.
32-1 at 27).
says that he complained to Coates Electrical and TradeForce,
but nothing was done to address his discrimination complaint.
TradeForce refused to assign Evans to any more job openings
for projects associated with Coates Electrical. Plaintiff
complained to the EEOC and, after receiving his Notice of
Right to Sue letter, filed his Complaint.
claims that: (1) Coates Electrical discriminated against him
when Hansen called him “boy” and terminated him
from the project; (2) Coates Electrical retaliated against
him when Evans asked Hansen to not call him “boy”
and then Hansen proceeded to call him “boy” again
and fired him from the project; and (3) Coates Electrical is
liable for punitive damages because it acted with malice or
reckless indifference for Evans' federally protected
judgment is appropriate “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.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). When considering a motion of summary
judgment, the court views “all facts [and evidence] in
the light most favorable to the party opposing summary
judgment.” S.E.C. v. Smart, 678 F.3d 850, 856
(10th Cir. 2012) (quoting Grynberg v. Total S.A.,
538 F.3d 1336, 1346 (10th Cir. 2008)). The movant must prove
that no genuine issue of material fact exists for trial.
See Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a); Nahno-Lopez v.
Houser, 625 F.3d 1279, 1283 (10th Cir. 2010).
Accordingly, to survive summary judgment, “the
nonmoving party must come forward with specific facts showing
there is a genuine issue for trial.” Smart,
678 F.3d at 858 (quoting L & M Enters. v. BEI Sensors
& Sys. Co., 231 F.3d 1284, 1287 (10th Cir. 2000)).
Electrical filed this motion for summary judgment arguing
that there are no disputes as to any material facts and that
Coates Electrical is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.
Specifically, Coates Electrical moves for summary judgment on
Evans' claims for: (1) racial discrimination; (2)
retaliation; and (3) punitive damages. For the reasons that
follow, the court grants summary judgment on Evans'
punitive damages claim and denies summary judgment on his
racial discrimination and retaliation claims.
There Are Disputes of Material Facts On Evans' Racial
claims he was unlawfully discriminated against based on his
race. To establish a claim for disparate treatment
discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and
the Utah-Discrimination Act, a Plaintiff must establish that
(1) he was a member of a protected group; (2) he was
qualified for the job; (3) he was subjected to an adverse
employment action; and (4) someone of a different class was
or would have been treated differently under the same or
substantially similar circumstances. McDonald Douglas
Corp. v. Green, 411 U.S. 793 (1973).
Electrical concedes that Evans was a member of a protected
class, was qualified for the job, and was eventually
terminated from the project. Coates Electrical instead argues
that there is no evidence to satisfy the fourth prong that
the Plaintiff was treated less favorably than other employees
or was ...