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Patton v. Ford Motor Co.

United States District Court, W.D. New York

May 18, 2017

KELLEY M. PATTON, Plaintiff,
v.
FORD MOTOR COMPANY, Defendant.

          DECISION AND ORDER

          HON. RICHARD J. ARCARA, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This case is before the Court on the Defendant's objections to Magistrate Judge Scott's Report and Recommendation, which recommends granting in part and denying in part the Defendant's motion for summary judgment. For the reasons stated below, the Court sustains the Defendant's objections and adopts the Report and Recommendation in part. The Defendant's motion for summary judgment is therefore granted in its entirety.

         BACKGROUND

         The Court assumes familiarity with this case's factual and procedural background. The Court therefore recites only the undisputed facts that are relevant to the claims at issue in the Defendant's objections.

         The Plaintiff is an African-American woman who has been employed at Defendant Ford Motor Company's Buffalo Stamping Plant (BSP) since 1999. The primary dispute in this case concerns the way in which the Defendant classified the Plaintiff's job at the BSP. In 2005 or 2006, the Plaintiff accepted a position as a human resources associate. One of the Plaintiff's duties in that position was “manpower planning.” Both parties agree that manpower planning “consist[s] of office or non- manual work.” Docket No. 41-1 ¶ 13. And both parties agree that manpower planning involves “assign[ing] and plac[ing] all hourly employees on all shifts, including those employees who work on the press and sub-assembly lines to produce sheet metal vehicle parts for shipment to Ford assembly plants.” Id. Specifically-and as the Plaintiff did not dispute-manpower planning requires “gathering and analyzing input on an ongoing basis from production supervisors and area managers in order to ascertain and resolve the often conflicting and quickly evolving needs of different departments and shifts, and assigning sufficient manpower to each department for each shift based on the provisions of both the national and [local] collective bargaining agreements and the rights to stated shift preferences of the individual employees.” Id. ¶ 14. See also Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e)(2) (“If a party fails . . . to properly address another party's assertion of fact as required by Rule 56(c), the court may . . . consider the fact undisputed for purposes of the motion.”) The parties also agree that manpower planning required the Plaintiff to “efficiently assign and place all hourly employees on all shifts, including those employees who work on the press and sub-assembly lines to produce sheet metal vehicle parts for shipment to Ford assembly plants.” Docket No. 41-1 ¶ 13.

         In other words, as the Plaintiff described her job in a then-recent resume-which, she testified, was accurate, Docket No. 41-2 at 18 (Dep. Tr. 483:6-8)-the Plaintiff's job was to:

Administer all aspects of the HR Generalist position, including but not limited to: conduct personnel relations investigations, propose penalties which result from disciplinary actions, pool resources to maintain HR information systems, prepare plant-wide HR communications, interpret UAW national and local contracts, track metrics for individual/department/plant scorecards, facilitate climate surveys and benefit enrollment programs, as well as, managed various day-to-day employee issues. Docket No. 41-2 at 25.

         The Plaintiff also had duties at the BSP other than manpower planning. First, the Plaintiff was responsible for investigating grievances and reporting human resource problems to her supervisors. Second, and more relevant to this case, in 2008 the BSP underwent a “workforce reduction, which included the elimination of the lower-level hourly personnel job being performed” by another employee. Id. ¶ 20. At least some of that employee's duties were assigned to the Plaintiff. For instance, the Plaintiff testified that she performed data entry and data manipulation and that she “r[an] reports.” Docket No. 33-6 at 10 (Dep. Tr.130:9-13). The Plaintiff suggested in her deposition that she spends between four and ten hours a week on these other job functions. See Docket No. 41-2 at 10-11 (Dep. Tr. 144:19 - 147:5).

         In addition to claims arising from her job classification, the Plaintiff also alleges that the Defendant failed to promote her because of her race. Specifically, the Plaintiff identifies five positions within Ford (some at the BSP, and some at other Ford locations) for which she applied but was not hired. Notably, however, and as discussed below, the Plaintiff does not identify the race of any of the individuals who ultimately received the positions for which she applied.

         DISCUSSION

         A. Recommendations to which no objections have been made

         Judge Scott recommends granting the Defendant's motion for summary judgment as to the Plaintiff's third claim, which alleges retaliation, in violation of New York Labor Law § 215; the Plaintiff's fourth claim, which alleges discrimination on the basis of race, in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1981; and the time-barred portion of the Plaintiff's fifth claim, which alleges discrimination based on a failure to promote, also in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1981.

         The Plaintiff does not object to any of these recommendations. “Where no objection is made to a report and recommendation . . . only ‘clear error' review is required by the district court.” Teixeria v. St. Jude Medical S.C., Inc., 193 F.Supp.3d 218, 222 (W.D.N.Y. 2016) (citing Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b)). “In such case, the district court ‘need only satisfy itself that there is no clear error on the face of the record in order to accept the recommendation.'” Id. (quoting 1983 Advisory Committee Note to Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b)). The Court has carefully reviewed Judge Scott's Report and Recommendation and the record in this case. Upon such review, the Court finds no clear error in Judge Scott's recommendation to grant summary judgment as to the Plaintiff's third and fourth claims, and partial summary judgment as to her fifth claim. Summary judgment is granted accordingly.

         B. Recommendations to which objections have been made

         Judge Scott recommends denying the Defendant's motion for summary judgment as to the Plaintiff's first and second claims, which allege, respectively, failure to pay overtime wages in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), 29 U.S.C. § 207 and New York Labor Law. Judge Scott also recommends denying the Defendant's motion for summary judgment as to the non-time-barred portion of the Plaintiff's fifth claim, which alleges discrimination based on a failure to promote, in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1981.

         The Defendant objects to each of these recommendations. The Court therefore reviews each recommendation de novo. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1). Thus, the Court must “give fresh consideration to those issues to which” the Defendant objects, and it must “examine the entire record . . . mak[ing] an independent assessment of the magistrate judge's factual and legal conclusions.” United States v. Raddatz, 447 U.S. 667, 675 (1980) (quotation marks omitted).

         1. Failure to ...


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