United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Charleston Division
Sol Blatt, Jr. Senior United States District Judge
This matter is before the Court upon Plaintiff Laureen Veronica Glaze-Washington's ("the Plaintiff' or "Washington") pro se complaint, which alleges claims pursuant to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-e17, On March 9, 2015, the Defendants filed a motion for summary judgment, to which Washington responded.
The matter was referred to a United States Magistrate Judge pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(A) and (B) and Local Civil Rule 73.02(B)(2)(g) (D.S.C.). On August 6, 2015, the Magistrate Judge issued a report and recommendation ("R&R"), outlining the issues and recommending that the Court grant the Defendants' motion for summary judgment. The Plaintiff filed objections to the R&R; the Defendants filed a response to the Plaintiffs objections; and the Plaintiff filed a reply.
In her verified complaint, the Plaintiff alleges that she was hired by the Defendants as a secretary in December 2001 and that she was subjected to racial harassment by her white supervisor, Daniel Durbin. Specifically, the Plaintiff alleges that on November 30, 2011, she was called to a meeting along with co-workers Ebonique S. Holloman and Kathy Walker, at which meeting Durbin stated in a very vindictive tone that he was from the "good olde [sic] boy system." Also, according to the Plaintiff, Durbin stated that his friends ask him why he is a "nigger lover." The Plaintiff alleges that she was distraught for weeks until she met with Holloman about the incident, and the Plaintiff asserts that she filed a complaint. The Plaintiff also alleges that once Durbin no longer worked at the school, he continued to show up there to intimidate her. In addition to the foregoing, the Plaintiff alleges that in December of 2013, Principal Corey Murphy denied her request to travel to Myrtle Beach for outside training. The Plaintiff attached several exhibits to her complaint, including her right to sue letter from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") dated July 7, 2014, her charge of discrimination dated July 1, 2014, copies of two newspaper articles, a copy of some emails, a copy of the EEOC Intake Questionnaire completed by the Plaintiff, a copy of a travel request/reimbursement form dated December 3, 2013, and copies of correspondence related to the denial of her travel request.
In support of their motion for summary judgment, the Defendants submitted the affidavit of Murphy, who attests that he is an African-American and is the principal at Beaufort High School. Murphy attests that he has no persona! knowledge regarding the Plaintiffs interaction with Durbin, who was a prior principal at the high school. According to Murphy, the Plaintiff is employed at Beaufort High School as an administrative assistance, a position she held when he became principal, and she has not changed positions since June 2012 when he became principal.
In his affidavit, Murphy also attests that he understands that the Plaintiff is alleging that he retaliated against her in December of 2013 (for having filed a charge of discrimination with the EEOC related to Durbin's alleged conduct) by denying the Plaintiff's request to travel to a conference in Myrtle Beach from February 27, 2014, through March 2, 2014. According to Murphy, when he denied the Plaintiff's travel request, he was not aware of any specific charge of discrimination that the Plaintiff had submitted to the EEOC, as the Plaintiff's charge of discrimination is dated July 1, 2014, and was not received by the School District's Human Resources Department until July 15, 2014. In addition, Murphy attests that he denied the Plaintiff's travel request because he deemed it to be an unnecessary expense of more than $800, and he did not believe the stress management seminar would benefit the School District or Beaufort High School. Murphy also attests that the denial of the Plaintiff's travel request was not in retaliation for, and was in no way related to, any charge of discrimination made by the Plaintiff.
As attachments to her response in opposition to the Defendants' motion for summary judgment, the Plaintiff submitted a copy of an unrelated charge of discrimination she submitted to the South Carolina Human Affairs Commission on September 11, 2006, in which she complained about being involuntarily transferred. She also attached some copies of her answers to some discovery requests, copies of some newspaper articles, her administrative charging documents, a copy of a billing purchase order from November 2014, a copy of her performance evaluation from May 2013, and more emails relating to her not being permitted to attend the training conference in Myrtle Beach. In addition, the Plaintiff submitted a "response" to Murphy's affidavit, which is not itself an affidavit, but wherein she states that Murphy allowed Durbin to enter school grounds after Durbin resigned and that she felt intimidated. The Plaintiff also states that she met with Murphy and Margaret Thomas on May 22, 2013, to discuss why she had been given a "satisfactory" rating on her job evaluation when she had received "excellent" job evaluations for the past ten years, The Plaintiff states that she told Murphy and Thomas that because of the ongoing EEOC investigation, receiving a "satisfactory1' rating was not acceptable in light of her prior evaluations. The Plaintiff states, however, that Murphy indicated that he does not give any support staff an "excellent1' rating his first year, and the Plaintiff admits she accepted his reasoning. In addition, the Plaintiff states that she filed her EEOC intake questionnaire on April 10, 2012, authorizing the EEOC to investigate the alleged discrimination, and she contends that the EEOC must have given her employer information about the charge, including the Plaintiffs name, and that all of that would have taken place before her travel request was denied in December 2013, STANDARDS OF REVIEW
I. The Magistrate Judge's R&R
The Magistrate Judge makes only a recommendation to the Court. The recommendation has no presumptive weight, and the responsibility for making the final determination remains with the Court. Mathews v. Weber, 423 U.S. 261, 269 (1976). The Court reviews de novo those portions of the R&R to which a specific objection is made, and the Court may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the Magistrate Judge's . recommendation, or recommit the matter to the Magistrate Judge with instructions. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1).
II. Summary Judgment
To grant a motion for summary judgment, the Court must find that "there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). The judge is not to weigh the evidence, but rather to determine if there is a genuine issue of fact for trial, Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 249 (1986). If no material factual disputes remain, then summary judgment should be granted against a party who fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case, and on which the party bears the burden of proof. CelotexCorp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322(1986). All evidence should be viewed in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. Pittman v. Nelms. 87 F, 3d 116, 118 (4th Cir. 1996). Summary judgment is not "a disfavored procedural shortcut, " but an important mechanism for weeding out "claims and defenses [that] have no factual basis." Celotex, 477 U.S. at 327. Summary judgment will be granted unless a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party on the evidence presented. Anderson. 477 U.S. at 248.
I. The Magistrate Judge's ...