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RAGGSV~1 - Revised UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS For the...

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Revised January 22, 2002 UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS For the Fifth Circuit No. 00-60874 HERMAN RAGGS, Plaintiff-Appellant, VERSUS MISSISSIPPI POWER & LIGHT COMPANY, Defendant-Appellee. Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Mississippi January 3, 2002 Before JONES and DeMOSS, Circuit Judges, and FELDMAN, District Judge.(1) DeMOSS, Circuit Judge: Plaintiff-Appellant, Herman Raggs (Raggs), filed suit against Defendant- Appellee, Mississippi Power & Light Company (MP&L), alleging race discrimination and retaliation in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and 42 U.S.C. § 1981, which arose from his 1996 layoff by MP&L and its subsequent failure to rehire him in 1999. The magistrate judge presiding over the trial granted MP&L's Motion for Judgment as a Matter of Law pursuant to Rule 50 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, and dismissed the case with prejudice. We AFFIRM. I. BACKGROUND Raggs started working for MP&L in 1979 as a groundsman in the Greenville Service Department. Groundmen assist linemen working on electric utility poles by sending equipment up to them. Raggs was promoted in 1983 to lineman, and again in 1987 to troubleman. Linemen work fixed hours as part of a crew. Troublemen work alone and are called in at any hour to assess utility problems. Notably, in 1987, when Raggs became a troubleman, he was the first African-American to be hired in the Greenville Service Department.
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In 1989, Raggs filed a race discrimination claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The claim was eventually dismissed. In 1990, Jimmy McDaniel (McDaniel) became the area supervisor over Raggs' department. McDaniel gave Raggs a favorable performance evaluation for the 1990 to 1991 time period, rating him fully adequate, above average, or superior for all categories. In 1993, however, MP&L suspended and then terminated Raggs for allegedly installing an MP&L security light at his residence and for stealing electricity. Raggs contested his termination through his union. At the arbitration hearing, the arbitrator found that MP&L did not demonstrate that Raggs was fired for just cause because it had not produced sufficient evidence that he had installed the light. Raggs, therefore, was reinstated in February 1994. During the ten-month period Raggs was not working as a result of his termination, his position as troubleman was filled by an African-American lineman. When Raggs returned to work, he was assigned to work the northern territory. As a result, Raggs was required to travel greater distances than his co-workers to make service calls, which made it difficult for him to make the same quantity of service calls as his co- workers. In 1996, MP&L decided to reduce its number of journeyman employees in response to increased competition and deregulation. Included in this category of employees were groundmen, linemen, and troublemen. MP&L developed a formula based on seniority and performance for determining who to layoff. This system, known as the "Employee Profile Process" (EPP), complied with the existing union contract and involved multiple evaluations and reviews. Under the EPP,
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