United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Charleston Division
WESTON HOUCK, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter is before the Court upon the report and recommendation
("R&R") of United States Magistrate Judge
Bristow Marchant recommending that the Court grant in part
the Defendants' Rule 12(b) Partial Motion to Dismiss
("Motion to Dismiss") (ECF No. 9), leaving only the
plaintiffs Title VII claims for retaliation and hostile work
environment on the basis of gender against the defendant
Nucor Corporation, d/b/a Nucor Steel Berkeley,
("Nucor"). For the reasons set forth in this Order,
the Court adopts and incorporates the R&R (ECF No. 32)
except that the only remaining claim is retaliation in
violation of Title VII against Nucor.
action is brought by David Bell (the "plaintiff), a
white male who was employed by Nucor at its plant from
October 8, 1996 to December 20, 2013 as a saw operator.
(Compl. ¶¶ 20, 23, 28, ECF No. 1-1). In 2013, the
plaintiff began to complain to his supervisor and management
regarding issues related to workplace bullying, safety, air
quality, and noise in the plant. (Compl. ¶¶ 29,
30-32). In April 2013, "an incident occurred", and
the plaintiff was sent for a drug test, but "[a]nother
employee was not sent for [a] drug test." (Compl. ¶
37). In July . 2013, the plaintiff researched the effects of
"abrasive blades" on air quality and discussed his
concerns about these effects with management. (Compl. ¶
39). The plaintiff posted an article regarding abrasive
blades' effects on air quality in his workspace, pointing
it out to the maintenance supervisor, Ted Smith. (Compl.
¶ 40). In September 2013, the plaintiff "published
an article regarding air particles" and sent this
article to several individuals at the plant. (Compl.
September 2013, the plaintiff reported "inappropriate
sexist remarks, constant statements regarding having sex,
constant comments regarding trying to have sex with white
women, and sexual harassment" by Andre Porche
("Porche")-his supervisor-yet Nucor failed and
refused to address his complaint. (Compl. ¶¶
43-44). The plaintiff also "reported a hostile work
environment based on [Porche's] offensive and
inappropriate commentary." (Compl. ¶ 45). After
making these complaints, Porche gave the plaintiff two
disciplinary actions: one for an administrative violation,
and another for being disrespectful towards Porche. (Compl.
¶¶ 46-47). The plaintiff alleges that he did not
commit these violations and that Porche "purposefully
used the violations to terminate the [p]laintiff for his
reporting actions." (Compl. ¶¶ 48-49). The
plaintiff additionally alleges that "in order to
perpetuate the termination of the [p]laintiff[, ]" Chris
Stow ("Stow")-the department manager-"further
lied about the [p]laintiff and placed lies in [Nucor's]
log." (Compl. ¶ 52).
October 1, 2013, the plaintiff met with Stow to complain that
he was disciplined more harshly than other employees. (Compl.
¶ 54). On the same date, the plaintiff complained to
management regarding conditions of the bathrooms as well as
health issues related to noise and air quality. (Compl.
¶ 53). Stow responded by stating that he made the rules
and asking how the plaintiff "knew about abrasive blades
and what was in them." (Compl. ¶ 54). On October 9,
2013, the plaintiff received an unfavorable evaluation-the
least favorable in his 18-year career-allegedly in
retaliation for his various complaints "regarding
Nucor's failures." (Compl. ¶ 55). In November
2013, the plaintiff requested to see air and noise readings
for the plant; Nucor informed him that documents were
available for his review but "refused to provide
information on how to see [the documents]." (Compl.
¶ 59). In December 2013, the plaintiff "submitted a
complaint regarding other individuals failing and refusing to
work." (Compl. ¶ 60). On December 14, 2013, the
plaintiff went to Mark Deflipio, a supervisor,
"regarding the hostile work environment being created by
Andrew Porche[, ]" but Deflipio "failed and refused
to handle the matter." (Compl. ¶ 61). The following
day, the plaintiff made a safety complaint regarding cameras
having poor visibility in the plant, yet Nucor did not
address his safety concerns. (Compl. ¶ 62). On December
16, 2013, the plaintiff made another safety complaint
regarding a cracked blade, an issue he had previously
reported, but Nucor did not address the issue. (Compl.
December 20, 2013, the plaintiff was terminated from his
employment. (Compl. ¶ 64). To effectuate his
termination, the plaintiff alleges that: (1) Nucor failed to
follow its own policies and procedures regarding employee
termination; (2) Nucor changed its policies in order to
terminate the plaintiff; (3) Stow and Porche made defamatory
statements about the plaintiff that lead to his termination;
and (4) Nucor treated the plaintiff differently than other
similarly situated male African American employees. (Compl.
¶¶ 68-69, 71-73).
28, 2015, the plaintiff filed this action in the South
Carolina Court of Common Pleas for the Ninth Judicial
Circuit, alleging causes of action for: (1) racial
discrimination in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1981
("Section 1981") against defendant Nucor; (2)
retaliation in violation of Section 1981 and Title VII of the
Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e to
2000e-17, ("Title VII") against defendant Nucor;
(3) hostile work environment based on age and race in
violation of Section 1981 and Title VII against all
defendants; (4) slander and intentional interference with a
contract against defendants Porche and Stow; and (5) wrongful
termination in violation of public policy. (Compl.
¶¶ 91-142). On September 3, 2015, the defendants
removed the case to this Court pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§§ 1441 and 1446 because of the various federal
causes of action asserted by the plaintiff. (ECF No. 1). On
September 10, 2015, the defendants filed the Motion to
Dismiss. (ECF No. 9). After receiving an extension of time to
respond, the plaintiff filed a Response to the Motion to
Dismiss. (ECF No. 17). On October 23, 2015, the defendants
filed their Reply thereto. (ECF No. 24).
accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 636(b) and Local Civil Rule
73.02(B)(2)(g) (D.S.C.), the case was referred to the
magistrate judge for pre-trial proceedings and an R&R. On
April 18, 2016, United States Magistrate Judge Bristow
Marchant issued an R&R, recommending that the Court grant
the defendants' Motion to Dismiss in part, leaving only
the plaintiffs Title VII claims for retaliation and hostile
work environment on the basis of gender against defendant
Nucor. (R&R 28, ECF No. 32). The R&R specifically
advised the parties of the procedures for filing objections
thereto and the consequences if they failed to do so.
(R&R 29). On May 5, 2016, the plaintiff filed his
objections to the R&R (ECF No. 33), and on May 23, 2016,
the defendants filed their reply thereto. (ECF No. 34).
STANDARD OF REVIEW
motion filed under Rule 12(b)(6) challenges the legal
sufficiency of a complaint... considered with the assumption
that the facts alleged are true[.]" Francis v.
Giacomelli, 588 F.3d 186, 192 (4th Cir. 2009) (citations
omitted). The Court measures the legal sufficiency by
determining whether the complaint meets the Rule 8 standards
for a pleading. Id. Rule 8 requires that a claim for
relief contain a statement of the grounds for the Court's
jurisdiction, a statement of the claim showing that the
pleader is entitled to relief, and a demand for the relief
sought. Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a). Each allegation must be simple,
concise, and direct. Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(d)(1). To survive a Rule
12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, a complaint need not assert
"detailed factual allegations[;]" however, it must
contain "more than labels and conclusions, " and
"a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of
action" will not suffice. Bell Atl. Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). Furthermore, "a
complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as
true, to 'state a claim to relief that is plausible on
its face.'" Ashcroft v. Iqbal. 556 U.S.
662, 678 (2009) (quoting Twombly. 550 U.S. at 570).
working criteria guide the plausibility standard articulated
in Twombly. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. First,
although the Court must accept all facts alleged in the
complaint as true, this is inapplicable to legal conclusions,
and "[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of
action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not
suffice." Id. (citation omitted). Although
legal conclusions can provide the framework of a complaint,
factual allegations must support the complaint for it to
survive a motion to dismiss. Id. at 679. Therefore,
a pleading that provides only "labels and
conclusions" or "naked assertion[s]" lacking
"some further factual enhancement" will not satisfy
the requisite pleading standard. Twombly, 550 U.S.
at 555, 557.
to the extent that there are well-pleaded factual
allegations, the Court should assume their truth and
"then determine whether they plausibly give rise to an
entitlement to relief." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679.
This determination of whether a complaint states a plausible
claim for relief is "a context-specific task that
requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial
experience and common sense." Id (citation
omitted). Rule 12(b)(6) does not allow dismissals based on
the Court's disbelief of ...