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Feaster v. Federal Express Corporation

United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Charleston Division

August 8, 2014

Debra Feaster, Plaintiff,
v.
Federal Express Corporation, Defendant.

REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION OF MAGISTRATE JUDGE

JACQUELYN D. AUSTIN, Magistrate Judge.

This matter is before the Court on Defendant's motions for partial dismissal and for summary judgment. [Docs. 5, 37.] Plaintiff brings this case pursuant to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended ("Title VII"), the Age Discrimination in Employment Act ("ADEA"), and 42 U.S.C. § 1981. Pursuant to the provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 636 (b)(1)(A) and Local Civil Rule 73.02(B)(2)(g), D.S.C., all pretrial matters in employment discrimination cases are referred to a United States Magistrate Judge for consideration.

On August 8, 2013, Plaintiff, an African-American female who is over the age of 40, filed this action in the Court of Common Pleas for Charleston County, South Carolina, generally alleging discrimination and hostile work environment claims based on race, sex, and age. [Doc. 1-1.] On September 16, 2013, Defendant removed the action to this Court, and then filed an answer and a motion for partial dismissal on September 23, 2013. [Docs. 1, 5, 6.] Plaintiff filed a response in opposition to the motion for partial dismissal on October 14, 2013. [Doc. 15.] On May 12, 2014, Defendant filed a motion for summary judgment. [Doc. 37.] Plaintiff filed a response in opposition and additional attachments on June 14, 2014 [Docs. 46, 47], and Defendant filed a reply on July 1, 2014 [Doc. 52]. Accordingly, the motions are ripe for review.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff's Work History with Defendant

Plaintiff began working for Defendant on March 24, 1989 as a courier. [Doc. 37-3 at 4:7-8; 5: 20-24.] As a courier, Plaintiff's primary job duties were to pick up and deliver packages. [ Id. at 13:6-9.] Plaintiff worked on the a.m. shift, which typically ran from 6:30 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. [ Id. at 13:12-15:9.] As needed, Plaintiff worked on the p.m. shift, assisting the reload, when employees unloaded freight from FedEx trucks coming off the road. [ Id. at 17:6-18.]

From 1997 until 2000, David Huntley supervised Plaintiff. [ Id. at 29:20-23.] From 2000 until December 2005, Operations Manager Russ Coletti ("Coletti") supervised Plaintiff. [ Id. at 29:13-19.] From December 2005 until August 2011, Operations Manager John Devereaux supervised Plaintiff. [ Id. at 29:8-10.] Finally, from August 2011 until her termination, Coletti again supervised Plaintiff. [ Id. at 28:23-29:7.]

Plaintiff was an employee at-will, and she was familiar with the policies in FedEx's Employee Handbook and People Manual that prohibited discrimination and harassment and that outlined available complaint procedures. [ Id. at 7:14-9:25.] Plaintiff received copies of the Employee Handbook in 1989, 1993, 1996, 2002, 2006, and 2011, and she understood that she had access to the People Manual in the workplace. [ Id. at 7:22-8:7.] In addition to FedEx's equal employment opportunity policies, Plaintiff was familiar with FedEx's Acceptable Conduct Policy. [ Id. at 24:10-12.] That policy explains, in part, that the falsification of company records, including package delivery records, may result in severe disciplinary action up to and including termination. [Doc. 37-4 at 59-61.] Additionally, Plaintiff received two letters, in February 2005 and November 2008, to all employees of the Southern Region, explaining and re-emphasizing that the falsification of company documents could result in termination. [Doc. 37-2 at 32-36.]

Allegations of Hostile Work Environment

The parties agree that the following twelve discrete actions are those Plaintiff asserts created a hostile work environment:

1. In November 2008, Coletti pressed Plaintiff's then-supervisor to discipline Plaintiff for not going on break to vote in a political election;
2. In 2008, Coletti emailed Plaintiff's supervisor inquiring about her hours;
3. Coletti "constantly" sent Plaintiff work-related messages through her Powerpad[1];
4. Plaintiff's overtime hours were reduced beginning in August 2011;
5. A political sign advertising Coletti's candidacy for City Council was placed in her yard in September 2011;
6. During one of Coletti's team meetings in September 2011, he asked Plaintiff to not take packages and freight designated for other couriers' routes;
7. During another one of Coletti's team meetings at some point between August 2011 and February 2012, a meeting to which Plaintiff was late, Coletti inquired about Plaintiff's whereabouts;
8. In August 2011, Coletti instructed Plaintiff not to bring the FedEx truck to her house after she finished her a.m. shift and before she started her p.m. shift, approximately a two hour gap;
9. In December 2011, Plaintiff received an OLCC[2] for having 38 late package deliveries in a two-week period and ...

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