United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Florence Division
Robin D. Camlin, Plaintiff,
South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, Defendant.
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
KAYMANI D. WEST, Magistrate Judge.
Robin D. Camlin ("Plaintiff" or "Camlin")
filed this action against her employer, Defendant South
Carolina Department of Natural Resources
("Defendant" or "DNR"), alleging DNR
violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as
amended, when it failed to promote her to the position of
Lieutenant-Investigations ("L-I"). At the close of
discovery, Defendant moved for summary judgment. ECF No. 46.
Plaintiff responded to the Motion, ECF No. 50; and Defendant
filed a reply, ECF No. 64. This matter is before the court
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. Â§ 636(b) and Local Civil Rule
73.02(B)(2) (D.S.C.) for a report and recommendation
("Report") regarding Defendant's pending
dispositive motion. Having reviewed the parties'
submissions and the applicable law, the undersigned
recommends Defendant's Motion, ECF No. 46, be granted
and this matter be ended.
is employed by DNR in the Investigations Section of its Law
Enforcement Division ("LE"). In addition to the
Investigations Section, the LE Division has field offices and
an administrative division. Within the Administrative
Division is the Education Section, which provides education
and outreach. DNR's Investigations Section includes overt
(uniformed) investigators, covert operations (undercover),
marine theft, and aids to navigation. The Section also
conducts the marine event program, boating saturation
("BSAF") team, abandoned boat program, river-shack
program, basic marine law enforcement training, and boat
accident data entry. Investigative activity within the
Investigations Section includes, but is not limited to:
boating fatalities, hunting fatalities, marine theft, aids to
navigation, regulatory, aquatic investigations and recovery,
background checks, and internal staff investigations. The
Investigations Section is a standalone area led by Captain
Gary Sullivan, who reports directly to Colonel Chisolm
Frampton, who is Deputy Director over the LE Division.
Colonel Frampton reports to DNR Executive Director Alvin
Taylor. See Affidavit of DNR Human Resources
("HR") Director Terri McGee ["McGee
Aff."], ECF No. 46-2 at 2, 6.
L-I position at issue
sole cause of action is one for Title VII gender
discrimination. Plaintiff alleges she was not promoted to the
L-I position at issue because of her gender. As set out in
the Job Announcement or "Posting", the L-I position
has responsibility for the supervision of all overt law
enforcement investigations and programs. The L-I is expected
to supervise and direct the majority of staff in the
Investigations Section, assist with Section duties, assign
investigators, complete work schedules, manage equipment and
inventory, supervise marine events, prepare reports, approve
time sheets and schedule staff training. McGee Aff. Â¶ 5 &
attached documents, ECF No. 46-2 at 2, 12-14. The Posting
sets out the following pertinent information:
and Additional Requirements:
Internal Posting for DNR Employees Only
Five (5) years experience as a DNR Law Enforcement Officer.
Prefer one (1) year of DNR LE Officer experience in a
supervisory position in DNR Law Enforcement.
Internal Posting for DNR Employees Only
Possess a thorough understanding of title 50 code of laws and
federal laws that apply to Section Programs or Enforcement
issues. Must be knowledge[able] of the legislative process.
Must be focused strong management and leadership skills.
46-2 at 12-14.
position had been held by Gary Sullivan for years. In
December 2011, Sullivan was promoted to Captain, but retained
supervisory duties over all Investigators. During that time,
there was not an L-I position. Management decided to create a
new L-I position, which was posted for applications on
October 3, 2012. Captain Sullivan was the hiring manager, and
the new L-I would report to him. Sullivan, with McGee's
assistance, created the position description and Posting,
assembled an interview panel (discussed more thoroughly
below), scheduled interviews, chose questions to be asked,
determined how the candidates would be rated, and determined
which candidate to recommend to Colonel Chisolm Frampton for
LE Division-level approval. Once Colonel Frampton and the HR
Director approved the recommendation, DNR Executive Director
Alvin Taylor would consider the recommendation and make the
final decision. This chain-of-command consideration was
followed in filling the L-I position. See ECF No.
46-2 at 12-14, Sullivan Dep. 41-42.
individuals applied for the L-I position. As it is
uncontested that Plaintiff and Investigator Larry Donald
Pritcher ("Pritcher") were the top two candidates,
see Sullivan Dep. 67, the court focuses only on
predecessor agency hired Plaintiff in 1990 as a
field/conservation officer in the LE Division-a position she
held until 1998. Pl.'s Dep. 3-4, ECF No. 46-7.
Plaintiff's job responsibilities involved the enforcement
of state and federal wildlife and boating laws, litter laws,
and regulations. Plaintiff also presented programs to schools
and organizations. See Pl.'s Resume, ECF No.
46-2 at 22-26. In 1998, Plaintiff applied for, interviewed,
and received a position as an Education Officer in the Hunter
and Boater Education Section of the LE Division. Pl.'s
Dep. 6-8. In 2007, Plaintiff applied for, interviewed, and
received a position as an Investigator in the LE Division of
DNR. She held the rank of sergeant at that time. Id.
at 10. During the 2007 interview process Sullivan was the L-I
of the Investigations Section, served on that interview
panel, and recommended Plaintiff be selected for the
investigator position. Plaintiff remains in that investigator
position today. Id. at 10-11.
predecessor agency hired Pritcher as a Boating Education
Officer in the LE Division in September 1986. He held that
position until 1992, at which time he became a Boating and
Hunting Education Officer for DNR. See Pritcher
Resume, ECF No. 46-2 at 34-35. In May 1997, Pritcher was
selected to join DNR's first Investigations Section as an
Investigator, where he remains. Id. In addition to
investigative duties, Pritcher's duties included working
on the Aids to Navigation Program. Id.
LE Division's Directive D348 sets out its Officer
Promotion Plan. See ECF No. 46-2 at 27-29. In
addition to other directives, the Plan provides for a
Promotion Board, comprised of "the Captain, if
appropriate 2) the appropriate Major, 3) the Lieutenant
Colonel, and 4) a representative from the Office of Human
Resources, " to interview applicants for investigator
positions not assigned to particular regions. Id. at
28. The Promotion Board is often referred to as the
Panel for the L-I position consisted of three individuals:
Captain Sullivan, who is Captain over the Investigations
Section and the hiring manager; Mike Sabaka, who is an
Administration Captain with experience in the Investigations
Section; and HR Manager Stephanie Welch. ECF No. 46-2 at 8.
Captain Sabaka was selected for the Panel because of his
experience and because the Investigations Section did not
have a Major, and the LE Division did not have a Lieutenant
Colonel, as D348 had contemplated. Id.,
Sullivan Dep. 51.
selected Captain Sabaka to serve on the panel because of
Sabaka's interest and experience in Investigations.
Id. at 47, 62-63. Sullivan recalled that he and
Sabaka had served on a prior interview panel. Id. at
61-62. Although DNR Directive 348 II.B.4.b (D348) called for
a lieutenant colonel and an "appropriate major" to
sit on the Panel, there was neither over the Investigations
Section at that time. Sullivan testified that, other than
Executive Director Taylor, Captain Sabaka was the highest
ranking DNR officer knowledgeable about investigations at
that time. Id. at 50-51, 133-34. Sabaka had worked
directly with both Sullivan and Pritcher. Sullivan Dep.
17-20. Sabaka had gone through basic training with Plaintiff
and had worked with Plaintiff on occasion prior to 2012;
however, he noted he had not worked directly with Plaintiff
when she was an Investigator. Sabaka Dep. 35, 45, ECF No.
46-5. Sabaka did recall investigating a marine fatality with
Plaintiff, although he did not recall many specifics of that
interaction. Id. at 39-41.
recommended Stephanie Welch as the HR representative for the
Panel. Sullivan approved and chose Welch, noting she had
previously worked in the marine-theft office. Sullivan Dep.
47, 55. He was also aware Welch had worked with Pritcher in
the marine-theft office. Id. at 55. Sullivan had no
knowledge of Welch's prior experience serving on
interview panels. Id. at 61.
hiring manager, Captain Sullivan devised questions to be
asked of the candidates during their interviews, and
identified critical "competencies, " or job
requirements on which the Panel would rate the candidates
using a one-to-six scale: 1) Job Knowledge/Responsibilities;
2) Planning; 3) Organizing; and 4) Supervisory & Leadership
Potential. Sullivan Dep. 68-74. Sullivan wanted to select
the best person for L-I position and believed the most
important qualities for the position were "[o]verall job
knowledge, overall section knowledge, overall ability to do
those jobs and to know how they're done, experience as an
investigator and [as] a DNR officer." Id. at
October 24, 2012, Captain Sullivan, Captain Sabaka, and
Stephanie Welch interviewed six applicants, including
Plaintiff and Investigator Pritcher. Pritcher was the
successful applicant. The interviewers each completed
"Applicant Evaluation Forms" on which they gave
each candidate scores in the four job-related competencies.
The numerical scores given by each are set out in the
Investigator Pritcher Investigator Camlin (Plaintiff)
Sullivan Welch Sabaka Sullivan Welch Sabaka
Job 5 6 5 4 5 4 Knowledge/ Responsibilities Planning 6 6 6 4
4 4 Organizing 6 6 6 5 5 5 Supervisory & 5 5 5 5 5 5
Leadership Potential Total 22 23 22 18 19 18
and Camlin were the two highest-scoring applicants. ECF No.
46-2 at 8. Each Panel member gave Pritcher a higher score
than Camlin overall and in three of the four competencies,
and the Panel unanimously concurred that Pritcher was the
best qualified candidate for the position. Captain Sullivan
recommended to Colonel Frampton that Pritcher be selected to
fill the L-I position. Colonel Frampton, the HR Director, and
Executive Director Taylor approved the recommendation.
Panel members' evaluations of Pritcher and Plaintiff
October 25, 2012 memorandum, Captain Sullivan wrote the
following to Colonel Frampton concerning his hiring
This memo is to advise you that my selection for the above
listed position is SSGT Larry Donald "Donnie"
Pritcher Jr. SSGT Pritcher has all of the necessary
abilities, skills and knowledge desired to perform the
expected job duties outlined in the position description.
SSGT Pritcher's long tenure in the section makes him a
great selection and he has experience in every job duty or
function based on his tenure. I expect that SSGT
Pritcher's transition from the field into an
administrative position will be smooth because he is already
familiar with and has performed some of the administrative
duties in my absence or during times when the section was
short staffed. If you have any questions or concerns with my
selection please let me know.
46-3 at 28.
October 25, 2012, Sullivan completed a "Justification
Summary Sheet, " regarding successful applicant
Pritcher. These sheets are routinely requested by HR.
Sullivan's sheet regarding Pritcher provided as follows:
1) What knowledge, skills, and abilities does this applicant
have that make him/her capable of performing this job?
The above applicant has the most detailed knowledge of the
job duties and section responsibilities over all of the other
applicants. The applicant has the longest tenure in the
section and has throughout his career done all of the job
duties and functions within the section. The applicant
possesses all of the skills necessary to do the job expected
of him and has exhibited those skills, decision making,
dependability, knowledge and problem solving to name a few,
while doing his existing job duties.
2) What are the strengths that make this applicant able to
perform this job?
The applicant's strengths are his overall knowledge of
the job duties, responsibilities and functions conducted
within the Investigations section. He has great interpersonal
skills and the ability to resolve issues that arise with a
3) Why do you feel this applicant is the best suited for this
This applicant is the best suited applicant for this position
because of his long time experience in the section and his
involvement in conducting every job duty that falls within
the section's responsibilities. The applicant started his
career in this section and has been part of the transition of
where the section is today. The applicant possesses a great
amount of knowledge about the section's needs and overall
functions within the Law Enforcement Division and how
important a role this section plays in the overall view of
the agency. The applicant is well qualified for the position
based on his educational background, continued Law
Enforcement Training and his long time dedication to SCDNR.
46-3 at 30.
deposition, Sullivan has further described his reasons for
choosing Pritcher. Sullivan began his career as a marine
theft investigator with DNR's predecessor agency in 1984
and worked much of his career as an investigator. Sullivan
Dep. 8-30, 132-33. Sullivan and Pritcher began working
together as investigators when Pritcher transferred to the
Investigations Section in 1999. Id. at 75. In 2005,
Sullivan, Pritcher, and other then-investigators competed for
the previous L-I position-a position for which Sullivan was
chosen. Id. at 21-22. At that time the
Investigations Section was comprised of three investigators:
Sullivan and Pritcher and one other. Id. at 27.
During his tenure as L-I, Sullivan hired three additional
investigators, including Plaintiff; he supervised those
investigators as well as an officer in the marine-theft
office. Id. at 29-30.
time he chose Plaintiff as an investigator, Sullivan also
interviewed several males. Sullivan Dep. 102, 133. Sullivan
recalls having met Plaintiff when she began as a field
officer, and Plaintiff was working in the Education Section
when Sullivan began in the Investigations Section in 1999.
Sullivan Dep. 85. In December 2011, four other officers were
transferred to the Investigations Section and were under
Sullivan's supervision. Sullivan Dep. at 25. It was then
that Sullivan's position was reclassified to that of
captain. Id. at 23-24. Sullivan is still a captain
and reports directly to Colonel Frampton and Executive
Director Taylor. Id. at 24.
noted above, it was after Sullivan became a captain that it
was determined that the L-I position at issue would be
reinstated. Sullivan drafted a position description, which
was approved and posted. After the application period ended,
Sullivan obtained the applicants' submissions from HR,
assembled an interview panel, and scheduled interviews.
Sullivan Dep. 38, 46-47.
into the interviews, Sullivan expected there were three
applicants who were "fairly close in some
qualifications": Plaintiff, Pritcher, and Tony Spires.
Sullivan Dep. 67. Sullivan "felt like [those three] were
pretty close based on their time in the department." He
had not reviewed their training, credentials, and
accomplishments at that time. Id. at 80.
Sullivan's determination of who should get the job would
be based on the candidates' credentials, their
interviews, and his experience supervising them. Id.
indicated Plaintiff was not as confident or direct in her
answers during the interview for the L-I position as he
recalled her having been during the interview for the
investigator's job in 2007. Sullivan Dep. 102. He
"didn't think she had a good interview" for the
L-I job, noting she began answering many questions based on
her own experience as an investigator ...