Daily Labor Report®

Goodyear Beats Employee’s Race, Disability Bias Claims

Jan. 16, 2019, 9:17 PM

A black Goodyear employee didn’t show the tire giant discriminated against him because of his race or his lupus diagnosis when it fired him, the Eleventh Circuit said Jan. 16.

Benjamin Payne didn’t sufficiently allege racial or disability discrimination when he sued Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. over his August 2015 firing, according to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit’s unpublished opinion.

The court upheld summary judgment for the company.

Payne also didn’t present any evidence to dispute the company’s reasons as to why it terminated him, the Eleventh Circuit said.

Payne wasn’t qualified for his job as a machine operator because he didn’t try to learn how to run the machine, slept on the job, and used his cellphone when he should have been working, Goodyear said.

He didn’t identify any non-black employees with similar performance issues who were kept on, either, the opinion said.

Goodyear, to the contrary, fired two white employees with similar problems and hired another black employee to replace Payne, according to the opinion.

Payne identified a coworker’s reference to him as “boy” as evidence of discrimination. The Eleventh Circuit agreed that “calling a grown man ‘boy’ is certainly offensive and inappropriate.”

But the coworker was an hourly employee with no role in Payne’s firing, the opinion said.

Neither had any evidence been presented showing Goodyear management knew about Payne’s purported disability, the Eleventh Circuit said.

Although Payne had a lupus-related kidney transplant in 2012, a Veterans Administration doctor and some Goodyear nurses cleared him to work without medical restrictions, according to the opinion.

Judges Adalberto Jordan, Robin S. Rosenbaum, and Julie E. Carnes made up the panel that issued the per curiam opinion.

Littler Mendelson PC represented Goodyear. Payne represented himself.

The case is Payne v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., 2019 BL 14366, 11th Cir., No. 18-11612, unpublished 1/16/19.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jennifer Bennett in Washington at jbennett@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Jo-el J. Meyer at jmeyer@bloomberglaw.com; Steven Patrick at spatrick@bloomberglaw.com

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