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Williams v. United Airlines

October 18, 2005


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Claudia Wilken United States District Judge


Defendants United Airlines, Inc. (United) and Ron King move, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56, for summary judgment. Plaintiff Anthony Williams, proceeding pro se, opposes this motion.*fn1

The matter was heard on October 14, 2005. The Court, having considered all of the papers filed by the parties and oral argument, GRANTS Defendants' motion.


The facts below are undisputed unless otherwise noted.

Williams was employed by Defendant United as an airline mechanic in Oakland from 1989 until his termination in May, 2003. Defendant Ron King was, at all times relevant to this action, Williams' direct supervisor.

In February, 2000, United received a report that Williams, while using United employee travel benefits, acted in an uncooperative manner toward United States customs agents when questioned upon his return from an international trip. (Williams Dep. 163:7-165:16; Larry Trickett Dec. (Trickett Dec.) ¶ 2, Ex. A). Williams was threatened with discipline over the incident but was not disciplined. (Williams Dep. 168:12-23).

In July, 2000, Williams was counseled for being absent without leave (AWOL) five days. (Id. at 170:14-171:1, Ex. 3). In April, 2001, Supervisor James Connell issued Williams a "letter of concern" for again taking an unauthorized leave of absence of five days when he failed to return on time from his scheduled vacation. The letter of concern stated:

It is your responsibility to come to work on your assigned days to work. During a vacation you cannot just extend your days off without proper approval. In the future plan your vacation and stay with your plan. Disciplinary action will be taken if you are AWOL in the future. (Id. at Ex. 3).

On May 21, 2001, Gary Meeks issued Williams Level 3 discipline*fn2 for an altercation with a co-worker, Ricardo Paras, and for leaving the premises without authorization on work time during United's follow-up investigation. (Id. at 174:18-175:13, 180:19-182:14, Ex. 4). Defendant King, a supervisor, had instructed Williams to return to work after the altercation, but Williams left work. (Id. at 176:15-177:13). After Williams was disciplined, he alleged that a manager, Paras and another co-worker discriminated against him and harassed him. (Id. at 178:23-179:19, Ex. 5).

On October 17, 2001, supervisor Connell submitted a report concerning Williams' lack of productivity and frequent loafing on the job. (James Connell Dec. (Connell Dec.) ¶ 5, Ex. B). Subsequently, on February 11, 2002, Williams was issued Level 4 discipline for loafing on company premises during work time. (Williams Dep. 189:25-191:18, Ex. 7; Ron King Dec. (King Dec.) ¶ 3, Ex. A). Williams received this discipline because Defendant King found him watching a portable television during work time. (Id.). Defendant King had previously discovered Williams watching television and warned him about this on multiple occasions. (Id.).

On July 16, 2002, Williams was issued a job card ordering him to perform maintenance that included lubricating cables and pulleys on a particular aircraft. (Williams Dep. 94:13-95:2, 198:24-199:13, Ex. 8). After viewing the aircraft, Williams did not think he could complete the task as ordered unless parts of the wing surface were removed. The crew leads informed him that it would not be necessary to remove the wing surface, but Williams, nevertheless, refused to sign the work order. Defendant King was called to resolve the issue. Defendant King instructed Williams that he should complete the job as ordered by the crew leads and sign the order. Williams refused. Eventually, Williams' co-worker completed the job without removing the wing surface and Defendant King signed the maintenance card.

On or about July 23, 2002, Williams sent a written complaint to United and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), reporting that Defendant King had falsified information and violated United's aircraft maintenance rules. United investigated the incident and, two months later, concluded that it could not substantiate Williams' claims. (Chris Carrick Dec. ¶ 3, Ex. B, C).

On August 17, 2002, Larry Trickett issued Williams a letter of concern charging Williams with failing properly to perform leak checks of an airplane's lavatory and galley filtering systems. (Trickett Dec. ΒΆ 3, Ex. B). On September 9, 2002, supervisor Craig Whitmore issued a letter of concern to Williams because he improperly used the eye wash station in the airplane bay to clean his coffee pot. (Williams Dep. ...

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