Williams v. Graphic Packaging Int'l., Inc.

2018 WL 2118311 (2018)

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Williams v. Graphic Packaging Int'l., Inc.

United States District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee
2018 WL 2118311 (2018)

Facts

James Williams (plaintiff) was a department manager at Graphic Packaging International, Inc. (Graphic) (defendant). Williams had direct supervision of four managers. Williams had always received good performance evaluations for achieving and surpassing production targets established by Graphic. Williams had battled prostate cancer before, and in September 2015, he learned that he had prostate cancer again. Williams had disclosed voluntarily to three employees, including his supervisor Eddie Lee, that he had a family history of cancer. Lee inquired into Williams’s condition and treatment plan. Williams took medical leave to receive treatment, and one of the managers he supervised, Tasha Pack, took on Williams’s role. While Williams was away, Pack reported to Lee that Williams had warned her not to communicate with him because he was untrustworthy. Pack and two other managers that Williams supervised revealed that he screamed at them, commented that he owned them, and threated termination. Two managers reported that Williams had paraded them through the production area, criticizing their managerial skills in the presence of their employees. One supervisor who was assigned to a different manager reported that Williams had cheated on a test with her assistance. Text messages even showed Williams had discussed with Pack and another employee a rumor that Lee had molested his own daughter. Upon Williams’s return to work, Lee and Graphic’s human resources manager talked to Williams about Pack’s allegations, which he denied. After the human resources manager conducted an investigation, Williams was terminated for violating Graphic’s core values. Williams filed suit alleging violations of numerous acts, including the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA), which provided that an employer was not permitted to discriminate against an employee on the basis of the employee’s genetic information, which included family medical history. Williams alleged that Graphic had fired him because of his cancer. Graphic argued that Williams had been fired for his violations of company policy in managing his subordinates through intimidation and fear, and Graphic sought summary judgment.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Campbell, J.)

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