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Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Product Fabricators, Inc.

United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit

August 15, 2014

Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Plaintiff - Appellant,
v.
Product Fabricators, Inc.; M& M Manufacturing, Inc., as successor, Defendants - Appellees; Adam Breaux, Intervenor Plaintiff Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Plaintiff, Adam Breaux, Intervenor Plaintiff - Appellant
v.
Product Fabricators, Inc.; M& M Manufacturing, Inc., as successor, Defendants - Appellees

Submitted February 12, 2014.

Page 964

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 965

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 966

Appeal from United States District Court for the District of Minnesota - Minneapolis.

For Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Plaintiff - Appellant (13-2102): Christine Jiyeun Back, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Office of General Counsel, Washington, DC; Jessica A. Palmer-Denig, Nicholas J. Pladson, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Minneapolis, MN.

For Product Fabricators, Inc., M& M Manufacturing, Inc., as successor, Defendants - Appellees (13-2102, 13-2103): Marlene S. Garvis, Elisa M. Hatlevig, Vicki A. Hruby, Jardine & Logan, Lake Elmo, MN.

For Adam Breaux, Intervenor Plaintiff - Appellant (13-2103): James Robert Andreen, Erstad & Riemer, Minneapolis, MN.

Before SMITH, BEAM, and BENTON, Circuit Judges.

OPINION

Page 967

BEAM, Circuit Judge.

Product Fabricators, Incorporated (" PFI" ) terminated employee Adam Breaux. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (" EEOC" ) and Breaux appeal the district court's[1] adverse grant of summary judgment in favor of PFI. Having jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1291, we affirm.

I. BACKGROUND

PFI was a Minnesota sheet metal fabrication company formed by Michael Murphy, Sr. (" Murphy" ) and two others. In 1997, PFI hired Breaux as a turret operator. In 1999, PFI hired Murphy's sons, Mark and Michael Murphy, Jr. (" Mark" and " Mike" respectively). In 2000, Breaux left PFI for another job, but was rehired by PFI, again as a turret operator, in March 2005. From November 2007, until Breaux's termination, Mike supervised Breaux.

In February 2008, another former PFI employee, Dennis Anderson, filed a disability discrimination charge and the EEOC initiated an investigation. On June 24, 2008, the EEOC visited PFI to interview employees, including Breaux, who was Anderson's supervisor. According to Mark's testimony, the EEOC told him that the investigators would ask whether PFI accommodated people who were injured and other such general issues, but would not mention specific employees during its questioning. Mark recalled that, after each EEOC interview, he reminded each employee that the interview was confidential, but he asked if the EEOC interviewer brought up any particular employee. According to Mark, Breaux told Mark that he was asked about Anderson and that he told the interviewer Anderson was a poor worker, at that point, Mark told Breaux not to divulge any more information about the interview. Breaux, on the other hand, claims he did not talk to anyone about the interview.

On September 4, 2008, Breaux reported a workplace injury on his right shoulder resulting from heavy lifting, which was eventually diagnosed as a right rotator cuff tear. Breaux received workers' compensation benefits from September 4, 2008, until September 16, 2010, when he settled that claim. On September 30, 2008, PFI transferred Breaux to a manufacturing supervisory position, which was less physically demanding and did not require Breaux to work ...


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