Submitted: April 16, 2019
from United States District Court for the Eastern District of
Arkansas - Helena
COLLOTON, GRUENDER, and ERICKSON, Circuit Judges.
ERICKSON, CIRCUIT JUDGE.
Lacey sued employer Norac, Inc. for employment discrimination
following her termination. The district court granted summary
judgment in favor of the defendant. Concluding that the
district judge did not err in applying the McDonnell
Douglas burden-shifting test, we affirm.
Lacey (Valerie) is an African-American woman who started
working for Norac, Inc. in April 2014. Norac is a chemical
additive manufacturer headquartered in Azusa, California,
with an operating plant in Helena, Arkansas, where Valerie
was employed until December 2014. Valerie's duties at the
plant involved "Local Purchasing and HR stuff."
Ry'Kia Lacey (Ry'Kia) also worked at the Helena plant
as a temporary receptionist.
contends that, in September 2014, it initiated a
reorganization of the front office at its Helena plant, and
transfer of some job duties back to California as part of a
company-wide general restructuring. The reorganization
included a plan to lay off three employees, Kesheanna
Jackson, Valerie Lacey, and Danielle Rose (Jackson was also
African-American, and Rose was Caucasian), and end
Ry'Kia's temporary assignment. Norac terminated the
three employees on December 2, 2014, prompting Kesheanna
Jackson to file a separate Title VII retaliation suit in
which she alleged that she was fired in retaliation for
having previously filed a complaint against Norac with the
Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The district
court granted summary judgment for Norac and we affirmed in
Jackson v. Norac, Inc., 685 Fed. App'x. 510 (8th
Cir. 2017) (per curiam).
submitted several exhibits documenting its
restructuring/layoff plans. In an internal memo dated
September 18, 2014, Norac's owner, Wally McCloskey,
stated that the company would be moving most accounting
activities handled by the Helena office to its California
headquarters. A separate memo stated that Pam Payne
(Norac's office manager at the time) would be handling,
among other duties, on-site HR and purchasing support (which
were Valerie's duties). A third memo confirmed that Payne
would take over Valerie's duties at the company. Norac
also submitted an email dated September 21, 2014, from
McCloskey to Norac's counsel, allegedly contemplating
Valerie's layoff. Valerie objected to the email, claiming
that Norac had not produced it during discovery.
November 2014, in response to Jackson's Title VII suit,
Norac conducted interviews of employees who were potential
witnesses in that case, including Valerie, Rose, and Payne,
as well as two other employees, Kristin Gregory and Wendy
Fletcher. Following the interviews Norac drafted affidavits
for the employees to review and sign; Rose, Gregory, and
Fletcher signed their affidavits with few or no changes.
Valerie and Payne declined to sign their affidavits. Valerie
amended her affidavit, and asserts that Norac scheduled a
follow-up meeting with her, which she refused to attend.
Valerie never signed the affidavit, and she claims that Payne
observed Norac's lawyer was upset with her refusal to
sign the affidavit. On December 2, 2014, Norac laid off
Valerie, Jackson, and Rose, and ended Ry'Kia's
temporary assignment. Valerie and Ry'Kia each filed
charges with the EEOC- Valerie claiming that she was fired
for refusing to sign the affidavit, and Ry'Kia claiming
she had been released for being Valerie's daughter.
the district court, Valerie and Ry'Kia moved to strike
the September 21 email because it was not disclosed in
discovery, but was only attached in Norac's motion for
summary judgment. Norac responded that it presented the email
in response to plaintiffs' claim that Norac's other
documents were falsified, and further asserted that any late
disclosure was harmless. The district court denied the motion
to strike, finding that the September 21 email presented no
new substantive information and did not prejudice plaintiffs.
district court granted summary judgment in favor of Norac
against both plaintiffs. Valerie appeals the grant of summary
judgment, as well as the denial of her motion to strike the
September 21 email for failure to timely produce.