Pape Tamba v. Publix Super Markets, Inc.

USCA11 Case: 19-14108 Date Filed: 11/20/2020 Page: 1 of 17 [DO NOT PUBLISH] IN THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE ELEVENTH CIRCUIT ________________________ No. 19-14108 Non-Argument Calendar ________________________ D.C. Docket No. 2:18-cv-00392-KOB PAPE TAMBA, Plaintiff-Counter Defendant-Appellant, versus PUBLIX SUPER MARKETS, INC., Defendant-Counter Claimant-Appellee. ________________________ Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Alabama ________________________ (November 20, 2020) Before GRANT, LUCK, and LAGOA, Circuit Judges. LAGOA, Circuit Judge: USCA11 Case: 19-14108 Date Filed: 11/20/2020 Page: 2 of 17 Pape Tamba appeals the district court’s order granting summary judgment in favor of Publix Super Markets, Inc. on his workplace discrimination claim and Publix’s breach of contract counterclaim. For the following reasons, we affirm the district court’s order granting summary judgment. I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY Tamba, an African-American man born in Senegal, initially worked as a forklift operator for Publix in Lakeland, Florida. In 2016, Tamba applied for a “Truck Driver/Truck Driver Trainee” opening with Publix at its warehouse and distribution center in McCalla, Alabama. Although the truck driver and truck driver trainee positions were grouped together in the application, each position entails different duties, responsibilities, and compensation. Truck drivers make outbound deliveries from Publix’s McCalla facility to its stores. Truck driver trainees, by comparison, perform “spotter duties” and move and maintain tractors and trailers within the McCalla facility. When a truck driver position opens, a truck driver trainee usually fills it. Generally, Publix pays its truck drivers $21.85 per hour and its truck driver trainees $16.79 per hour. Publix accepted Tamba’s application, and both parties signed a Job Offer Acceptance and Commitment Form for Truck Drivers and Truck Driver Trainees (“Commitment Form”). The Commitment Form stated that Tamba was hired as a truck driver—not a truck driver trainee—even though Publix intended to hire Tamba 2 USCA11 Case: 19-14108 Date Filed: 11/20/2020 Page: 3 of 17 as a truck driver trainee. The parties also signed a Relocation Package Repayment Agreement (“Relocation Agreement”). Under the Relocation Agreement, Publix agreed to compensate Tamba for his relocation costs in moving to McCalla, Alabama. Tamba, in turn, agreed that if he was terminated by Publix for any reason within one year, he would reimburse his relocation benefits. Notably, the Relocation Agreement identified Tamba as a truck driver trainee. Tamba’s relocation benefits ultimately totaled $15,246.57. After relocating to McCalla, Tamba allegedly experienced discrimination based on his race and national origin. According to Tamba, at an April 2017 staff meeting, Publix employees “began laughing at [his] accent” and repeatedly asked Tamba “where [he] was from.” Tamba also alleged that Paul Chambers, the dispatch superintendent, asked him how he became a truck driver when “you have to be at least ten years in [the] Publix warehouse” to become a truck driver. Around this time, Publix became aware that Tamba was erroneously classified and compensated as a truck driver even though Tamba had only trained, visited store locations, and performed spotter duties during his McCalla tenure. Accordingly, Publix reduced Tamba’s compensation to a truck ...

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