Home Depot Aware Line

Full title: MARK WHITE, Plaintiff, v. HOME DEPOT U.S.A., INC., a Delaware corporation…

Court: United States District Court, D. Colorado

Date published: Aug 3, 2006


Plaintiff Mark White, an African American, was hired as a Loss Prevention Manager (“LPM”) by Defendant Home Depot U.S.A., Inc., (“Home Depot”) and began working in April 2003 (Defendant’s Motion at 3; Plaintiff’s Response at 4). Plaintiff continued in the position of LPM until at least the date of filing of his Amended Complaint, July 1995, and remains in that position until the present time ( see Amended Complaint, ¶ 4.3; Amended Final Pretrial Order at 2).

Before his hire, the plaintiff was interviewed for the position by the District LPM, Thomas McKnew, and other Home Depot employees, Kathy Metwonk, Daren Masten, and Richard Leo. Plaintiff’s Response at 3. Home Deport offered, and the plaintiff accepted, a starting salary of $42,000 per year. At or about the same time the plaintiff was hired as a LPM, Home Depot also hired five Caucasian LPMs, two at the same salary as the plaintiff at $42,000 per year, and three at salaries of $43,000 to $45,000 per year (Defendant’s Motion at 4).

The plaintiff was under the supervision of McKnew from April 2003 until May 2004, when McKnew was promoted to Regional Loss Prevention Manager (“RLPM”). Id. at 3. On or about May 2004, James Firsich replaced McKnew as the plaintiff’s supervisor. Id. In May 2005, Brian Varner became White’s supervisor (Plaintiff’s Response at 15).

Although no specifics are provided in the Amended Complaint, the plaintiff alleges that McKnew and others in management “targeted” him because of his race and that McKnew created a hostile work environment (Amended Complaint, ¶¶ 4.7-4.8). In his Response, the plaintiff asserts, inter alia, that McKnew did not give him the resources he needed to fully perform and meet his performance goals and that he treated the plaintiff in a humiliating manner (Plaintiff’s Response at 5). More specifically, the plaintiff asserts that on November 26, 2003, McKnew questioned White about “clearance SKUs” and questioned White’s intelligence. Id. at 7. He further alleges that on December 6, 2003,  McKnew yelled at the plaintiff in his office using an expletive, a demeaning tone, and a voice so loud it caused the Store Manager to check in on the office. Id. The plaintiff alleges that sometime in 2003, McKnew gave the plaintiff a “menial assignment” within earshot of other LPMs, “speaking down to him.” Id. at 7-8. Plaintiff claims that on April 14, 2004, McKnew insulted him in front of other employees for his work on exceptions reports and on May 10, 2004, criticized the plaintiff’s management of a loss incident, yelled at him using an expletive and threatened to “write-up” plaintiff Id. at 8-9. On August 16, 2004, according to the plaintiff, McKnew interrupted him during a presentation and used a demeaning and disrespectful tone when addressing him. Id. at 11.

According to his Amended Complaint, the first date on which the plaintiff complained about McKnew’s conduct was February 18, 2005, when he reported the alleged racially hostile work environment on the Home Depot Aware Line (Amended Complaint, ¶ 4.11). Although no dates are provided or positions specified, the plaintiff alleges that after that date he was denied promotion opportunities and/or was purposely not informed of promotion opportunities and was given a poor performance rating apparently in retaliation for making the complaint ( id., ¶¶ 4.10; 4.14). The plaintiff also alleges that he was discriminated against and retaliated against in the conditions of employment because of his race ( id., ¶ 4.13).



Defendant’s Motion for Summary Judgment (Dkt. # 80) is GRANTED in part and DENIED in part.

It is GRANTED concerning claims of a racially hostile work environment and those claims are DISMISSED with prejudice. In addition, the plaintiff’s claims of denial of promotion opportunities, and/or purposely not being informed of promotion opportunities, due to alleged racial discrimination or due to alleged retaliation, are DISMISSED with prejudice under the plaintiff’s request.

It is DENIED concerning the plaintiff’s claims of discrimination in the conditions of employment, and his claims of retaliation, to the extent such claims are asserted under 42 U.S.C. § 1981, and Title VII to the extent the plaintiff demonstrates that the claims were the basis of a charged of discrimination timely filed with the EEOC or Colorado Civil Rights Division. 

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