By: Steven Franklin

Today, in Perry v. Mail Contractors of America, Inc., the Fourth Circuit affirmed the Western District of North Carolina’s Order granting the Defendant’s Motion for Summary Judgment against a Title VII claim for wrongful termination. The Plaintiff, Craig Perry, a person of color, claimed that Mail Contractors of America, Inc. (MCA) terminated him from his position as a truck driver because of his race.

McDonnell Douglas Corp. v. Green, sets the Fourth Circuit’s framework for a claim of discriminatory discipline. To establish a prima facie case, the plaintiff must demonstrate that (1) he engaged in prohibited conduct similar to that of a person of another race, and (2) disciplinary measures enforced against him were more severe than those enforced against the other person.

First, Mr. Perry was unable to provide evidence of a truck driver receiving less punishment for an accident similar to his. Mr. Perry was terminated because he failed to reduce his speed despite having visibly hazardous road conditions directly ahead of him. Although he did show evidence of numerous other drivers in accidents that involved other vehicles, caused property damage, or resulted in traffic citations, they did not involve the kind of culpable conduct evident in Mr. Perry’s accident.

Second, there was evidence that MCA terminated an individual who was not a member of a protected class, but was involved in a similar accident shortly after Mr. Perry’s. The employees who terminated Mr. Perry were the same ones who terminated this subsequent individual. For these reasons, Mr. Perry was unable to establish a prima facie case, and the Fourth Circuit affirmed the District Court’s Order granting MCA’s Motion for Summary Judgment.