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Hill v. Spartanburg Regional Health Services District Inc.

United States District Court, District of South Carolina

March 18, 2015

Tresia R. Hill, Plaintiff,
v.
Spartanburg Regional Health Services District, Inc., Defendant.

ORDER AND OPINION

Bruce Howe Hendricks, United States District Judge.

The plaintiff Tresia R. Hill (“the plaintiff”) filed this action against the Spartanburg Regional Health Services District, Inc. (“the defendant”), alleging inter alia claims for discrimination and retaliation in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”), interference with rights and retaliation in violation of the Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”), and race discrimination in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII), 42 U.S.C. § 2000(e) et seq. She also has pled a state law claim for violation of the South Carolina Payment of Wages Act.[1]

In accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1) and Local Civil Rule 73.02 D.S.C., this employment discrimination matter was referred to United States Magistrate Kevin F. McDonald for consideration of pretrial matters. The Magistrate Judge prepared a thorough Report and Recommendation which recommends that the defendant’s Motion for Summary Judgment be granted. (ECF No. 48.) The plaintiff filed a timely objection to the Report and Recommendation (ECF No. 49) and the defendant filed a reply (ECF No. 52.) For the reasons set forth herein, the Court adopts the Report and Recommendation.

BACKGROUND AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

The Report and Recommendation sets forth in detail the relevant facts and standards of law, and the Court incorporates them and summarizes below only in relevant part. The plaintiff filed this matter on January 29, 2013. On May 14, 2014, the defendant moved for summary judgment pursuant to Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. (ECF No. 28.) After consideration of the plaintiff’s response (ECF No. 31), and the defendant’s reply (ECF No. 33), the magistrate judge issued a Report and Recommendation recommending that the defendant’s Motion for Summary Judgment be granted. (ECF No. 48.)

STANDARD OF REVIEW

The Magistrate Judge makes only a recommendation to this Court. The recommendation has no presumptive weight. The responsibility for making a final determination remains with this Court. Mathews v. Weber, 423 U.S. 261, 270 (1976). The Court is charged with making a de novo determination of any portions of the Report and Recommendation to which a specific objection is made. The Court may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the recommendation made by the Magistrate Judge or may recommit the matter to the Magistrate Judge with instructions. See 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1).

DISCUSSION

The plaintiff has objected to the magistrate judge’s recommendation that the plaintiff failed to (1) present evidence upon which a reasonable fact finder could determine that she was terminated because of her race; (2) establish that the defendant unlawfully discriminated against her because of her disability status; (3) establish that the defendant unlawfully interfered with her FMLA Benefits; and (4) show that the defendant retaliated against her with regard to her disability and FMLA status. (ECF No. 49.)

The Court says only what is necessary to address such objections against the already meaningful backdrop of a thorough Report of the magistrate judge, incorporated entirely by specific reference, herein, to the degree not inconsistent. Exhaustive recitation of law and fact exists there.

The plaintiff first objects to the Magistrate Judge’s conclusion that she has failed to present evidence of race discrimination. The Court has reviewed in detail the entirety of the plaintiff’s objections with respect to this claim. And, while the undersigned agrees with the complete analysis of the magistrate judge and adopts it fully, the Court need only specifically mention one deficiency in the plaintiff’s claim to affirm. Namely, the plaintiff cannot show that she was performing her job in a satisfactory manner.

In hopes of creating a genuine issue of material fact that she was, the plaintiff reemphasizes that her lengthy list of disciplinary actions for attendance were not mentioned in her termination meeting; that she did not fully review her most recent Performance Evaluation with her supervisor; and that she did not recall receiving or signing two of the many disciplinary actions. The magistrate judge listed in great detail the numerous deficiencies in the plaintiff’s work performance as undisputed in the record. (ECF No. 5-17, 20.) The plaintiff’s objections, even if credited as far as they may go, do not disturb the overall constellation of performance problems established. First, the requirement that the plaintiff show that the defendant was satisfied with her work is not somehow constrained by the precise bases articulated at the moment of discharge. While what was communicated to the plaintiff at the point of termination may have some relevance to issues of pretext, the prima facie element is a broader look at the condition of the plaintiff’s performance. The plaintiff has not made an effective showing on objection that the numerous details of lack in her performance were not, on whole, an accurate depiction based on the available record. Second, with respect to her most recent Performance Evaluation the plaintiff admits having received an unsatisfactory score and that her supervisor sent the document to her electronically for her review and signature. (Pl. Dep. at 148, 150-51 Ex. 35.) Again, whatever procedural deficiencies existed in the particular detail of that evaluation do not topple the clear record of communicated dissatisfaction. The plaintiff has conceded that she received: a Written Warning for punctuality, on December 4, 2009, prior to any FMLA request or any alleged lupus diagnosis; a Written Warning for attendance issues, on May 17, 2010, during which time she had no approved FMLA leave; and a Verbal Warning for attendance issues from Sonia McFalls, in July 2011. (Pl. Dep. at 132-33, 135-37 Exs. 28, 30). Lastly, as to the disputed signatures, the plaintiff still does not reject the underlying misconduct. (Pl. Dep. at 133-34, 138-39 Exs. 29, 31).

The Court is more than comfortable with the magistrate judge’s determination that the plaintiff cannot satisfy the second element of a prima facie case of race discrimination. After a careful review of the plaintiff’s other objections to that claim, the Court likewise accepts the magistrate judge’s reasoning as its own.

The plaintiff has also objected concerning the magistrate judge’s recommendation that her ADA claim should be dismissed. Her objections in this respect are generalized and simply echo the ones she made in response to the motion for summary judgment (Pl. Obj. at 7); ...


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