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Brockman v. NAES Corp.

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

December 5, 2019

MICHAEL BROCKMAN
v.
NAES CORPORATION

          RULING ON DISCOVERY LETTER BRIEFS (DOC. NOS. 29, 30, 42, 43 & 45)

          Robert M. Spector United States Magistrate Judge

         On January 3, 2019, the plaintiff, Michael Brockman, commenced this action against his former employer, NAES Corporation, alleging racial discrimination and retaliation. (Doc. No. 1). On November 8, 2019, the parties alerted the Court (Meyer, J.) to a discovery dispute (Doc. No. 28), and after expedited briefing, the Court (Meyer, J.) referred the parties' discovery dispute to the undersigned. (Doc. No. 31). The Court held a series of telephonic discovery conferences, during which it resolved most of the issues involved in the discovery dispute, leaving outstanding the defendant's objections to the plaintiff's Interrogatory Nos. 6 and 10 and Request for Production Nos. 11 and 37, which had not been addressed in the parties' briefs. (See Doc. Nos. 32-40). In addition, the parties could not resolve the plaintiff's objection to the defendant's request to reconvene the plaintiff's deposition. Consequently, the Court ordered the parties to confer again to try to resolve the defendant's outstanding objections to those Interrogatories and Requests for Production and the plaintiff's objection to continuing his deposition.

         Although the parties reached an agreement to Request for Production No. 37 (see Doc. No. 42 at 1), the parties did not come to a resolution as to Interrogatory Nos. 6 and 10, Request for Production No. 11, or the proposed continuation of the plaintiff's deposition. Thus, as directed by the Court, on December 2, 2019, the parties filed simultaneous briefs addressing these remaining issues. (Doc. Nos. 42-43). The defendant filed a supplemental response on December 4, 2019. (Doc. No. 45).

         A. INTERROGATORY NO. 6

         In Interrogatory No. 6, the plaintiff asks the defendant to:

Identify all persons who have been disciplined in any way (including termination) by Defendant at the Waste Processing Facility in Hartford from January 1, 2015 to the present for violating any company policy. For each person so identified, please provide the following: (1) the employee's name, address and phone number; (2) job title; (3) dates of employment; (4) rules violated; (5) discipline issued and (6) . . . all documents related to said discipline.

(Doc. No. 42 at 1). In response, the defendant provided a list of unidentified individuals who have been disciplined at the Hartford facility from January 1, 2015 to present, with a list of the alleged violations and discipline. (Doc. No. 43 at 3). After reviewing the responses, the plaintiff's counsel asked for a clarification of the discipline codes used on the list and an explanation of whether any of the listed individuals were repeat offenders. (Doc. No. 42 at 1). Additionally, the plaintiff's counsel agreed to limit the request to the identification of only those individuals who were disciplined for issues other than attendance, which would be limited to six individuals. (Doc. No. 42 at 2).

         Although the defendant objected to this interrogatory, it provided responsive information in a “good faith effort to resolve” this dispute. (Doc. No. 43 at 3). Defense counsel objects to providing additional information “since [the] [p]laintiff has not asserted any basis to claim that any of the disciplined employees are similarly situated to [the] [p]laintiff in any way.” (Doc. No. 43 at 3) (emphasis in original).

         The plaintiff was not disciplined during the course of his employment (Doc. No. 43 at 2 & Ex. A), thus, the discipline of other employees at the Hartford facility, dating back to almost two years prior to the plaintiff's employment, would be irrelevant in that these individuals are not similarly situated to the plaintiff. That, however, is not why the plaintiff seeks this information. The plaintiff accused his supervisor of engaging in racially harassing behavior, which the defendant investigated; his supervisor was made to apologize for his behavior, but he was not disciplined. (Doc. No. 42 at 2). The plaintiff, therefore, seeks this disciplinary information to discover whether other employees engaged in racially harassing behavior and were not disciplined. On or before December 17, 2019, the defendant shall supplement its response to include both the code sheet explaining the type of offenses committed and the Code of Conduct explaining the abbreviations for the discipline noted for the six individuals who the plaintiff referenced.

         B. INTERROGATORY NO. 10 AND REQUEST FOR PRODUCTION NO. 11

         In Interrogatory No. 10, the plaintiff asks the defendant to:

Identify every employee who worked on March 9, 2018 at Defendant's Waste Processing plant in Hartford. For each person so identified, please provide the following: (1) their name, address and phone number; (2) the job title; (3) the hours that they worked; (4) the location of the facility that they worked in; and (5) identify all documents which relate to this answer.

(Doc. No. 42 at 2).

         Similarly, in Request for Production No. 11, the plaintiff asks the defendant to: “Produce all documents, including payroll records or schedules showing all employees who worked on March 9, 2108 at the WPS facility, the hours that each ...


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