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Belgrove v. North Slope Borough Power, Light & Pub. Works

United States District Court, D. Alaska

November 14, 2013

BRYAN BELGROVE, Plaintiff,
v.
NORTH SLOPE BOROUGH POWER, LIGHT, AND PUBLIC WORKS, Defendant

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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Bryan Belgrove, Plaintiff, Pro se, Anchorage, AK.

For North Slope Borough Power, Light, and Public Works, Defendant: Danielle M. Ryman, Thomas M. Daniel, LEAD ATTORNEYS, Perkins Coie, LLP, Anchorage, AK.

OPINION

JOHN W. SEDWICK, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

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ORDER AND OPINION [Re: Motions at docket 46, 61]

I. MOTIONS PRESENTED

At docket 46, Plaintiff Bryan Belgrove (" Belgrove" ) filed a motion for partial summary judgment as to his state law claim for wrongful discharge in breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing. Defendant North Slope Borough Power, Light, and Public Works (" the Borough" or " Public Works" ) responded at docket 60 and crossed moved for summary judgment as to all of Belgrove's claims at docket 61. Its memorandum and evidence in support is at docket 62. Belgrove's reply is at docket 88, and his response in opposition to the Borough's cross-motion is at docket 89. The Borough's reply is at docket 90. Belgrove filed an additional reply at docket 91. Oral argument was heard on October 2, 2013.

II. BACKGROUND

Belgrove was hired as an apprentice lineman for Public Works in January 2011. He had probationary status during the first six months of his employment.[1] As an apprentice lineman, Belgrove worked under the supervision of a journeyman lineman.[2] A critical aspect of his position as an apprentice lineman was to take direction from more senior linemen.[3] During the initial months on the job, Belgrove's supervisor, Clark Williams, developed concerns about Belgrove's job performance, including his ability to get along with others and listen to directions.[4] During his probationary period, Belgrove had a verbal altercation with another lineman, Perry Welch, while working in Point Hope Alaska, causing a disturbance in the community.[5] Belgrove reported to his supervisors and Public Works management that Welch had threatened him.[6] On April 19, 2011, the Borough released both Belgrove and Welch from their probationary employment based on inadequate performance and poor attitude.[7]

Shortly after Belgrove's release, the Borough learned that an administrative mistake had been made so that Belgrove and another apprentice lineman hired in January of 2011 had not been properly registered as apprentices with the state. In light of the mistakes, the Borough decided to reinstate Belgrove to his former position starting in the beginning of May with back pay for all days missed.[8] Shortly after Belgrove's return to the job, Jason Bagienski became lead lineman and Belgrove's immediate supervisor.[9]

Belgrove continued to have problems with his performance. His coworkers expressed concerns about working with him. They complained that he talked on the phone too much.[10] They complained that he was argumentative and could not follow

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the proper chain of command or instructions.[11] For example, an electrician for Public Works, Doug Aldred, stated that Belgrove refused to work through lunch during an emergency power outage in dereliction of his duties.[12] Aldred had such a difficult time working with Belgrove, he informed Bagienski that he would no longer work with him.[13] Belgrove's coworkers said that Belgrove made threats against them and was overly argumentative.[14] For example, one coworker, Kris Kolodziej reported that he witnessed Belgrove becoming upset with the other apprentice lineman over dishes at mealtime, and later that night Belgrove told Kolodziej that he knew people who could beat up the other apprentice when they went to California for apprentice training.[15] In light of these complaints, on July 20, 2011, Bagienski went to the Borough's human resources department to discuss how to address Belgrove's performance problems.[16] He drafted an evaluation of Belgrove, documenting the complaints and concerns Belgrove's coworkers had about working with him.[17]

During the training course in California, Belgrove had performance problems. Belgrove did not pass two of his academic courses and failed to turn in homework.[18] His instructor determined that he needed to improve his practical skills and also said that he seemed to have his mind somewhere else and did not adequately study.[19] The instructor's behavioral assessment concluded that Belgrove's attitude did not meet expectations.[20]

Shortly after Belgrove's return from training, on August 10, 2011, Belgrove brought a gun to work to sell to a coworker. This upset some of the lineman given the past concerns they had about Belgrove being argumentative and making threats.[21] On that day Bagienski had a meeting with the Public Works management at that time: Assistant Deputy Director Chris Dunbar, Deputy Director Harold Snowball, and Director Ken Grinage.[22] The management team decided to place Belgrove on investigative leave from August 12 to August 26.[23] The Borough then issued Belgrove a notice of contemplated discharge, setting forth its basis for termination.[24] Belgrove and Bagienski met to discuss the contemplated discharge and to allow Belgrove to respond to the allegations against ...


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