Hyath v. City of Decatur, et al

ORDER granting {{29}} Defendant Richards' Motion for Summary Judgment; granting {{30}} Defendant Hensel's Motion for Summary Judgment; granting {{31}} Defendant Karolyi's Motion for Summary Judgment; granting {{33}} Defendant City of Decatur&# 039;s Motion for Summary Judgment; denying as moot {{40}} Defendant City of Decatur's Motion for Sanctions; denying {{44}} Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment; and denying {{69}} Defendant City of Decatur's Motion to Strike. The docket r eflects three other motions remaining pending. Plaintiff's {{41}} Motion to extend time to Respond to Motion for Summary Judgment, which was granted on June 27, 2005. Still pending is {{46}} Plaintiff's Motion for Leave to File His Statements of Undisputed Material Fact Out of Time, which the Court grants and Defendant City of Decatur's {{53}} Motion to Exceed Page Limitation, which the Court also grants. Signed by Judge Julie E. Carnes on 3/28/06.

Northern District of Georgia, gand-1:2004-cv-01135

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0 IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF GEORGIA ATLANTA DIVISION MOHAMED HYATH, Plaintiff, CIVIL ACTION NO. V. 1:04-CV-1135-JEC CITY OF DECATUR, W .S: RICHARDS, individually and in his F 8# ~ U.S.p. ~~ C Rifanta official capacity as Lieutenant, T .G. KAROLYI, individually and in his W R ~ 8 zoos official capacity as Corporal, {~ and M .H. HENSEL, individually D OM i d and in his official capacity as Corporal, Defendants. O R D E R & O P I N I O N This case is presently before the Court on defendant Richards' Motion for Summary Judgment [29], defendant H e nsel's Mot i on for. Summary Judgment [30], defendant Karolyi's Mot i on for Summary ' Judgment [3 1 ], defendant City of Decatur's Motion for Summary Judgment [33], defendant City of Decatur's Motion for Sanctions [40], plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment [44], and defendant City of Decatur's Motion to Strike [69] . The Court has reviewed the record and the arguments of the parties and, for the reasons set out below, concludes that defendant Richards' Motion for Summary Judgment [29] AO 72A (Rev, $/82) 0 should be GRANTED, defendant Hensel 's Motion for Summary Judgment) [30] should be GRANTED, defendant Karolyi's Motion for Summary Judgment [31] should be GRANTED, defendant City of Decatur's Motion for Summary Judgment [33] should be GRANTED, defendant City ofi Decatur's Motion for Sanctions [40] should be DENIED as moot, plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment [44] should be DENIED, and defendant City of Decatur's Motion to Strike [69] should be DENIED. This is an employment discrimination case. Plaintiff is al practicing Muslim, of Mauritian origin. (Comp) . [ 1 j at 9[ 4 .) Defendant City of Decatur ("Decatur" or "the City") hired plaintiff as a police recruit in April, 2002. (Def .'s Statement of Material Facts ("DSMF") [33] at 91 1 .)' Plaintiff spent the first 10 weeks of his employment, in a tra i ning course a t the North Central Police I Academy in Austell, Georgia. (Id. at 1 2 .) Following his graduation from the police academy, plaintiff joined the Decatur police department as a probationary officer in the patrol division. (Id. at 9[ 4 .) 1 The Court draws the facts from the undisputed facts in Defendant's Statement of Material Facts ("DSMF") [33], Plaintiff's. Statement of Material Facts ("PSMF") [46], and Plaintiff's Response to Defendant's Statement of Material Facts [46] . The majority of the facts underlying plaintiff's Complaint are undisputed. 2 AO 72A (Fiev .slsz) 0 Plaintiff alleges that as soon as he joined the police department, he became the object of "constant taunting and harassment" based on his ethnicity and religion. (Plaintiff's Statement of Material Facts ("PSMF") [46] at 91 12 .) Plaintiff's fellow officers were aware that he was a practicing Muslim and, because of his ethnicity, perceived him to be from the Middle East. (Pl .'s Mot. for Summ. J. [44] at 19 .) Plaintiff contends that, as a result of his religion and ethnicity, officers in the police department frequently referred to him by the nickname "Taliban" or "A l Queada ." (Id. at 17 .) In addition, plaintiff claims that officers teased him about Muslim dress and dietary restrictions, asking plaintiff why he did not eat pork or suggesting that he order the "pork sandwich or hot dog" for lunch. (-Td. at 2, 21 .) In the same vein, plaintiff alleges that defendant Karolyi, who was plaintiff's field training officer and often rode with him in the patrol car, asked plaintiff on several occasions whether women they encountered in traditional Muslim dress were plaintiff's "wife" or I In addition to these general comments, plaintiff asserts two I specific incidents of alleged racial harassment by his co-worker, defendant Hensel, and his shift commander and supervisor, defendant Richards. (PSMF [46] at 9[9[ 13-18 .) The first incident involved plaintiff's training in the use of oleoresin capsicum, more commonly 3 AO 72A (Rev.8/82) 0 known as "OC" or "pepper spray ." (Id. at ~[ 13 .) As part of their training, all new police recruits are exposed to pepper spray for three to five seconds. (Id .) Exposure to pepper spray causes an unpleasant reaction, and .members of the police department typically gather to watch the new recruits undergo the training. (Id .) Plaintiff received pepper spray training in July, 2002. (DSMF [33] at 91 6 .) Approximately 25 people were present at the training, including defendant Hensel, a Decatur police officer. (Id. at 5[ 8 .) Plaintiff alleges that after he was exposed to the pepper spray, defendant Hensel stated, "That's what you get for bombing us you damn Taliban ." (Id. at 9[ 9 .) The second incident involved an altered FBI poster. (DSMF [33] at 1 13 .) The Decatur police department occasionally receives FBIj "Seeking Information" posters requesting information about suspected' criminals. (PlMot. for Summ. J. [44] at 17 .) In August, 2002, .'s the department received a "Seeking Information" poster concerning A .S. Al-Rasheed, a Saudi Arabian suspected of being involved in the September 11, 2001 hijacking. (Id .; Richards Aff. [29] at 9I 15 .) Defendant Richards used his computer to superimpose plaintiff's photograph onto the FBI poster, so that the poster depicted plaintiff as a suspected Islamic terrorist. (Id .) Richards showed the poster to plaintiff, and then left it in the roll call room for other officers to see. (Pl .'s Mot. for Summ. J. [44] at 18-19 .) 4 7 AO 2-A t~eY.sis2} 1 0 Although the City maintains an anti-harassment palicy, 2 plaintiff did not complain about any of these incidents when they occurred .' (DSMF [33] at 1 23 .) Neither did plaintiff tell defendants Hensel, Karolyi, or Richards that he found their comments offensive, or ask defendants to stop making the comments. (Id. at 1 21 .) Plaintiff first complained about the alleged harassment when he contacted Assistant Chief of Police David Junger by telephone on September 11 or 12, 2002, and requested a meeting to discuss his allegations. (DSMF [33] at T 28 .) Pursuant to plaintiff's request, Junger scheduled a meeting for September 13, 2002. (Id .) In addition to plaintiff and Junger, Director of Public Safety Sherrard White and Assistant Chief of Police William Clark attended the meeting. (Id. at 91 30 .) During the meeting, plaintiff informed White, Junger, and Clark about the alleged harassment. According to 2 The policy includes a gr i evance procedure, which is described, in the City's Personnel Rules and Regulations manual. (DSMF [33] a t l 1 27 .) Pursuant to the policy, an employee may present a grievance to his or r her superv i sor within f i ve work i ng days after the employee k new, o r in t h e ex e r c i se o f d ue dil ig en c e s h o u ld have k no wn, of the conduc t or acts upon which the gri e vance is based. (Id. at 1 24 .) If the grievance is not resolved by the supervisor, the employee may present it to the head of his department within five work i ng days after the supervisor's response is given or is due. (Id .) If the grievance is still not resolved, the employee may present it to the City Manager w i thin five work i ng days after t he department head's de c isi o n is ren de red o r due. (Id. a t T 2 5 .) 3 Plaintiff concedes that he received a copy of the pol i cy along with his offer of employment, and that the C i ty rev i ewed the policy w i th plaint i ff at an orientation session. (DSMF [33] at 9[ _ 23 .) 5 AO 72A (Aev. 8/82) 0 plaintiff, Clark stated that he believed the comments were not intended maliciously, but were a form of inappropriate joking. (Id. at T 31 .) White added that he took plaintiff's complaints ser i ously, and that the C i ty would i nvestigate the alleged conduct. (Id. at ~ 32 .) White further assured plaintiff that if h i s allegations were true, the City would. discipline the i ndividuals involved. (Id. at T 33 .) U pon p lain t iff's reque s t, White a greed t o a l l o w plaint i ff to take a pa i d leave of absence during the investigat i on. (Id. at 11 34 .) Fol l owing his meeting with plaintiff, White appo i nted Lieutenant David Hipple to conduct an internal investigation into plaint i ff's, all e gatio n s. (D S MF [ 33 ] at 91 3 6 .) H ipple s ubsequently met with plaint i ff to discuss his complaint. (Id. at 9[ 37 .) Hipple thenll i nterviewed defendants Hensel, Richards, and Karolyi, as well as !, Officer Sibley, who worked with plain t i f f on a regular basis. (Id• at 9[ 39 .) On September 19, 2002, while Hipple's investigation was ongoing, I pla i ntiff's wife sent a letter to Peggy Merriss, the C i ty Manager, I i ndicating plaintiff's desire to res i gn from the police department. ', (DSMF [33] at J[ 41 .) The fo ll owing day, Merriss responded in writing, assuring plaintiff's wife that "the C i ty of Decatur takes the conduct reported by Officer Hyath very seriously ." (Id. at 9[ 42 .) Merriss further stated that "Off i cer Hyath is a valued member AO 72A (Re v .8J82) 0 of the City of Decatur Police Department, and we would like him to continue employment" with the City. (Id .) Merriss reassured plaintiff's wife that "[e]very effort is being made to address [plaintiff's] complaint ." (Id .) In late September, 2002, Clark. informed plaintiff that Lieutenant H i pple had comp l eted his investigation and that discipline of the offending officers was pending. 4 (DSMF [33] at 9[ 43 .) Shortly ', thereafter, plaintiff submitted his letter of resignation to Clark 'I and Junger. (Id. at 91 44 .) Plaint i ff claims that he resigned) because he feared retaliation for having raised a harassment complaint. (Id. at 9[ 46 .) However, plaintiff never experienced any harassment or retaliation after his meeting with White, Clark, and Junger on September 13th. (Id. at S 35 .) Neither is plaintiff aware of any other officers who have experienced retaliation for making complaints against the City or fellow officers. (Id. at 91 46 .) Plaintiff also concedes that, prior to resigning, he had .a telephone conversation with defendant Richards, who indicated that he had no ill feelings for plaintiff and encouraged plaintiff to return to work. (Id. at 9[ 47 .) 9 The City ultimately disciplined Hensel and Richards by issuing written letters of reprimand to both officers. (DSMF [33] at T 45 .) Karolyi was not disciplined, apparently because plaintiff did not identify Karolyi as one of the offending individuals in his initial conversation with Lieutenant Hippie or in his previous meeting with White. (Id. at 9[ 38 .) 7 AO 72A (Aev.$182) 0 After plaintiff resigned, he filed for unemployment benefits. (Compl. [ 11 at IH 26 .) The Department of Labor determined that plaintiff had resigned from the police department for good cause, and granted benefits. (Id, at T 27 .) On appeal, the Dekalb County Superior Court affirmed the decision, also finding that plaintiff resigned for good cause. (Id. at 1 28 .) Plaintiff subsequently filed a charge of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC), claiming that he was subjected to a hostile work environment. (Hyath Dep. at Ex. 14 .) Although the EEOC never issued a notice of right to sue, plaintiff filed this lawsuit on April 26, 2004. 5 (Compl. [1] .) In his Complaint, plaint i ff alleges that he was sub j ected to a hostile work env i ronment on the basis of his ethn i city and religion. (Id: at 9[ 30 .) Pla i ntiff seeks relief against the City, and against the individual defendants i n their individual and, official capacities, pursuant to 42 U .S .C. § § 1981 and 1983. Plaintiff also asserts various state law theories of recovery, including negligent ~ Plaintiff initially indicated that he intended to amend his. Complaint when he received his Notice of Right to Sue. (Compl. [1 ] at 9[ 10 .) Presumably, .plaintiff intended this amendment to address a claim under Title VII, 42 U .S .C. § 2000e-2, et seq. However, plaintiff never amended his Complaint and never produced a Notice of Right t