United States District Court, D. Maryland
CATHERINE C. BLAKE, District Judge.
Abdul Shadeed Al-Sabir sues his former employer, CEVA Logistics U.S., Inc. ("CEVA"), alleging that he was discharged on the basis of his race or color in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. See 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2(a)(1). CEVA now moves for summary judgment. That motion has been fully briefed and no hearing is necessary to its resolution. See Local Rule 105.5 (D. Md. 2014). For the reasons described below, CEVA's motion will be granted.
CEVA is a logistics company that provides fueling services to transportation companies. ( See Mot. Summ. J., Ex. 2, Hershberger Aff. 1, ECF No. 19-3.) CEVA's Baltimore facility employed drivers responsible for fueling trains in Maryland, Delaware, and Pennsylvania. ( See Hershberger Aff. 1.) Those drivers were responsible for filling their trucks with fuel, transporting that fuel to locomotives, and filling the locomotives with it. ( See Mot. Summ. J., Ex. 1, Navikoff Aff., Ex. B, ECF No. 19-2; Mot. Summ. J., Ex. 3, Al-Sabir Dep. 114, ECF No. 19-4.) Historically, drivers at CEVA's Baltimore facility serviced only one client, CSX Transportation ("CSX"). ( See Hershberger Aff., 1.) Beginning in November 2011, however, CEVA took on a new contract to fuel certain locomotives of the Norfolk Southern Railroad ("NS"). ( See Hershberger Aff. 1).
Al-Sabir began working at CEVA in early November of that year. ( See Al-Sabir Dep. 109.) There, he was immediately assigned to be the sole driver responsible for servicing the firm's new contract with NS. ( See Hershberger Aff. 1; Al-Sabir Dep. 115, 122.) Gary Hershberger, an Operations Manager at CEVA, served as Al-Sabir's supervisor. ( See Hershberger Aff. 1.) Al-Sabir's interactions with Hershberger, however, were relatively limited. They spoke over the telephone three times and in person twice, although Al-Sabir saw Hershberger more often than that. ( See Al-Sabir Dep. 175-76.)
In an affidavit, Hershberger stated that Al-Sabir's performance on the job was unsatisfactory. According to Hershberger, Al-Sabir sometimes completed his fuel-delivery routes slowly and NS frequently complained to Hershberger about Al-Sabir's work. ( See Hershberger Aff. 2-4; Al-Sabir Dep. 153-54.) On December 17, 2011, Al-Sabir called Hershberger to inform him that he was unable to complete his route and brought his trucks back to the Baltimore facility without fueling several locomotives. ( See Hershberger Aff. 4; Al-Sabir Dep. 153-54.) Two days later, Hershberger terminated Al-Sabir's employment with CEVA, before the completion of his probationary period as a new employee. ( See Hershberger Aff. 5.)
I. Standard of Review
Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(a), summary judgment should be granted "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) (emphases added). Whether a fact is material depends upon the substantive law. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). Accordingly, "the mere existence of some alleged factual dispute between the parties will not defeat an otherwise properly supported motion for summary judgment." Id. at 247-48. "A party opposing a properly supported motion for summary judgment may not rest upon the mere allegations or denials of [his] pleadings, ' but rather must set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.'" Bouchat v. Balt. Ravens Football Club, Inc., 346 F.3d 514, 522 (4th Cir. 2003) (alteration in original) (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e)). The court must view the evidence in the light most favorable to the nonmovant and draw all reasonable inferences in his favor. Scott v. Harris, 550 U.S. 372, 378 (2007) (citation omitted); see also Greater Balt. Ctr. for Pregnancy Concerns, Inc. v. Mayor & City Council of Balt., 721 F.3d 264, 283 (4th Cir. 2013). At the same time, the court must not yield its obligation "to prevent factually unsupported claims and defenses from proceeding to trial." Bouchat, 346 F.3d at 526 (citation and internal quotation marks omitted).
II. Employment Discrimination
"Generally speaking, a plaintiff may avert summary judgment and establish a claim for intentional... discrimination through two avenues of proof." Hill v. Lockheed Martin Logistics Mgmt., Inc., 354 F.3d 277, 284 (4th Cir. 2004) (en banc).
A plaintiff can... present direct or circumstantial evidence that raises a genuine issue of material fact as to whether an impermissible factor such as race motivated the employer's adverse employment action.... Alternatively, a plaintiff may "proceed under [the McDonnell Douglas ] pretext' framework, under which the employee, after establishing a prima facie case of discrimination, demonstrates that the employer's proffered permissible reason for taking an adverse employment action is actually a pretext for discrimination."
Diamond v. Colonial Life & Accident Ins. Co.,
416 F.3d 310, 318 (4th Cir. 2005) (alteration in original) (quoting Hill, 354 F.3d at 285). Al-Sabir maintains that both these "avenues" remain open to him. The record, ...