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Alan T. Boyce v. Interbake Foods

February 23, 2011

ALAN T. BOYCE,
PLAINTIFF,
v.
INTERBAKE FOODS, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Karen E. Schreier Chief Judge

ORDER

Plaintiff, Alan T. Boyce, brought a pro se action against defendant, Interbake Foods, alleging violations of Title VII and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Interbake moves for summary judgment and Boyce resists. Boyce moves to compel discovery. Interbake resists the motion and moves for sanctions against Boyce and Boyce resists. Boyce's motion to compel is granted in part and denied in part. Interbake's motion for sanctions is denied.

BACKGROUND

The pertinent facts to this order are as follows: Interbake is a cookie and cracker manufacturer that operates a facility in North Sioux City, South Dakota. Boyce began working at Interbake in August of 2005 in the packaging and additions department as an enrober operator. Interbake's employees, including Boyce, are represented by the Bakery, Confectionary, Tobacco Workers, and Grain Millers Union, Local No. 433 (Union). At all relevant times to this matter, Interbake and the Union had a collective bargaining agreement.

Interbake has an employee handbook that describes two types of disciplinary infractions. Type I Offenses may result in progressive discipline. Type II Offenses subject the offending employee to immediate discharge. Interbake also offers coaching sessions to help conform an employee's behavior to company standards. Coaching sessions are not discipline. The handbook also prohibits discrimination and provides a complaint procedure for employees if they feel that they are being discriminated against.

In January of 2008, Boyce filed a charge of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), and the dispute was resolved in mediation on February 21, 2008. Pursuant to the February 21, 2008, agreement, Boyce received payment and released all pending claims against Interbake.

In February of 2008, Pat Minor, an off-shift scheduler, stated, "If anybody missed work, it would be Alan Boyce and Roxann Favors and Marcia Jackson." Boyce did not hear this statement but claims that it affected his morale.

On May 8, 2008, an equipment issue occurred, which resulted in a cookie jam-up. Boyce temporarily turned off the air blowers to clear the jam, but that resulted in cookies with excessive coating. David Williams, Boyce's line manager, instructed Boyce on how to handle a similar situation in the future, but did not give him a coaching session for the May 8 incident.

On June 5, 2008, Interbake issued Boyce a coaching session for using profane language, a Type I Offense, but did not discipline Boyce for the incident. In June of 2008, Boyce filed a charge of discrimination and retaliation with the South Dakota Division of Human Rights (SDDHR) for the May 8 incident and the June 5 coaching session.

The SDDHR dismissed the charge because it found Interbake's actions were neither discriminatory nor retaliatory. Boyce appealed the SDDHR decision to the Circuit Court for the First Judicial Circuit of South Dakota. The state court upheld the SDDHR's determination.

In July of 2008, Minor stated, "Alan Boyce is upset" across the twoway radio. Boyce did not hear this statement, and although he claims that it had a negative impact on his morale, he never reported the statement to Interbake.

Around this time period, Boyce experienced problems with scheduling at Interbake. In order for an employee to be assigned to a particular position, he must have worked in that position within the prior twelve-month period. Interbake uses a computer system that a scheduler may consult to ensure that an employee meets the prerequisites before assigning him to a position. Prior to September 14, 2009, the computer system did not contain overtime records. Instead, that information was recorded by hand.

Minor scheduled Boyce to work in either the caramel mixing or coconut topper positions, but Boyce told Minor that he had not worked in either position in over twelve months. Minor reviewed the overtime records, saw that Boyce had worked the positions on overtime shifts, showed Boyce the records, and offered Boyce a choice of positions. Boyce chose the coconut topper position.

On a different occasion, Boyce was incorrectly assigned overtime. In assigning overtime, more senior employees usually receive first preference on whether to work overtime and less senior employees take any remaining shifts. Minor assigned Boyce to work overtime. When Boyce discovered that less senior employees were available to work overtime, he reported to supervisor Melissa Dale that Minor inappropriately assigned him overtime. Dale took Boyce off the overtime assignment and apologized for the incident.

On May 12, 2007, Boyce received a coaching session for failing to follow Interbake's standard washout procedures on the machine he was operating. On February 19, 2009, Boyce received a verbal warning for failing to follow Interbake's washout procedures, the first step in the disciplinary process for a Type I Offense. This ...


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