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Payne v. Giant of Maryland

June 28, 2006

KENNETH PAYNE, PLAINTIFF,
v.
GIANT OF MARYLAND, L.L.C. DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Gladys Kessler United States District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION

Plaintiff, Kenneth Payne, brings this suit under 42 U.S.C. § 1981, alleging race discrimination and retaliation against Defendant, Giant of Maryland, L.L.C.. This matter is before the Court on Defendant's Motion to Transfer. Upon consideration of the Motion, Opposition, Reply, and the entire record herein, and for the reasons stated below, Defendant's Motion to Transfer, [#25], is granted, and this case shall be transferred to the United States District Court for the District of Maryland.

I. BACKGROUND

Defendant, Giant of Maryland, L.L.C. ("Giant"), operates grocery stores in the District of Columbia, Virginia, and Maryland, and has warehouses in Maryland. Answer ¶ 3. Giant is headquartered in Landover, Maryland. Id.

Plaintiff, Kenneth Payne, owns a home in Prince George's County, Maryland. Pl.'s Opp'n at 8. He resided with his mother in D.C. for four months in 2005. Id., Ex. 1 at ¶ 8.

In February 1986, Plaintiff began working for Giant at a warehouse in Landover, Maryland. Second Am. Compl. ¶ 5. Defendant fired Payne in October 1992. Id. Subsequently, Payne filed a charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"), alleging that his termination was motivated by racial discrimination. Id. ¶ 6. He later sued Giant in this Court (No. 94-1254 (GK)) alleging violations of Title VII and 42 U.S.C. § 1981. Id. Payne and Giant settled that case in August 1996. Id. ¶ 8. Pursuant to the settlement agreement, Plaintiff's disciplinary record was expunged and he returned to work at the Landover warehouse. Id. ¶ 9.

In January 1998, Plaintiff was suspended for three days and placed on final warning in connection with an incident at the office of a physician retained by Giant. Id. Payne protested the severity of the disciplinary action by filing a grievance and a charge of racial discrimination with the EEOC. Id. ¶ 10.

In July 2000, Defendant issued a written warning to Plaintiff, as a result of a dispute over the use of a photocopier. Id. Payne asked that Giant review the security camera film, which had captured the incident in question, but alleges that Giant refused. Id. Plaintiff protested the warning by filing a grievance and a charge of racial discrimination with the EEOC. Id.

Plaintiff alleges that on April 18, 2002, while he was working for Giant as a Produce Janitor, his supervisor, Edward Tillery, directed him to work outside his assigned area, insulted him, and falsely reported that Payne had threatened him. Second Am. Compl. ¶ 11. Later that day, the Warehouse Operations Manager and Shift Superintendent convened a meeting with Payne and Tillery to discuss the incident. Id. ¶ 12. At the end of the meeting, Plaintiff was suspended pending an investigation of the incident. Id. He was later fired by the Director of the Distribution Center. Id.

Local 730, the Union representing Plaintiff, grieved his dismissal and took the matter to arbitration. Id. ¶ 13. The arbitration hearing was conducted in D.C. in June 2003. Id. In March 2004, the arbitrator issued a decision denying Plaintiff back pay, but ordering his reinstatement on the condition that Plaintiff enter into a last chance agreement. Id. ¶ 14.

Payne filed a petition in this Court (Civ. No. 04-662 (ESH)) to modify the arbitral award. Id. ¶ 15. The Court dismissed the petition in October 2004. Id. After filing and then withdrawing an appeal, Payne sought reinstatement with Giant on the terms specified by the arbitrator. Id. ¶¶ 15-16. Giant refused to reinstate him. Id. ¶ 15.

Plaintiff now brings this suit against Defendant alleging racial discrimination in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1981. Specifically, Plaintiff alleges that termination of his employment in 2002, and the subsequent refusal to reinstate him on the terms specified by the arbitrator constituted racial discrimination. Furthermore, Plaintiff alleges that termination of his employment and refusal to reinstate him constituted retaliation for his prior complaints about racial discrimination.

On September 28, 2005, Defendant filed the instant Motion to Transfer to the United States District Court for the District of Maryland, ...


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