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Claiborne v. City of Greenville

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

October 5, 2016

Glen Earl Claiborne, Plaintiff,
v.
City of Greenville, South Carolina, GreenLink, Robert Dowling, Louis Beason, Deborah Gravely, Athena Miller, Rick Bridwell, Steven Chasten, Mark Richards, Scoot McIver, Defendants.

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION OF PARTIAL SUMMARY DISMISSAL

          KEVIN F. MCDONALD, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         The plaintiff, proceeding pro se, brings this civil action alleging employment discrimination. Pursuant to the provisions of 28 U.S.C. §636(b)(1)(B), and Local Civil Rule 73.02(B)(2)(e), D.S.C., the undersigned is authorized to review such complaints for relief and submit findings and recommendations to the district judge. The undersigned recommends that Defendants Robert Dowling, Louis Beason, Deborah Gravely, Athena Miller, Steven Chasten, Mark Richards, Rick Bridwell, and Scoot McIver be dismissed from the case.

         BACKGROUND

         The plaintiff alleges that the defendants discriminated against him because of his race, color, and sex/gender in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. (“Title VII”) (doc. 1-1 at 5-6). He asserts that he was subject to unequal terms and conditions of employment, retaliation, and termination (doc. 1-1 at 6). He contends that the treatment is ongoing (id.).

         The plaintiff states that on or about September 9, 2016, Beason and Dowling conspired to set him up for a safety violation (id. at 8). He contends that Dowling told him he should take off his shirt and tie before he hung himself and made a gesture like he was hanging the plaintiff from a tree; Beason and Dowling laughed about hanging the plaintiff from a tree (id.). The plaintiff asserts that on or about August 16, 2016, Dowling said that the “Temps” would listen to Dowling because he is white (id.).

         The plaintiff alleges that he spoke with Miller in July and September of 2015 regarding the safety violations, harassment, hostile work environment, retaliation, and disrespectful behavior (doc. 1-2 at 3). He states that Richards and Dowling were present for at least one of these meetings and that Miller told him that Chasten was his supervisor (id.). The plaintiff provided the copy of an email where he complains that Gravely screamed at him in front of others and called him a liar with no backbone (id. at 4).

         The plaintiff states that he received a Right to Sue letter from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on May 24, 2016 (doc. 1-1 at 8); he seeks $1, 500, 000 in compensatory, punitive, and exemplary damages (id. at 9).

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         The plaintiff filed this action pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915, the in forma pauperis statute. This statute authorizes the district court to dismiss a case if it is satisfied that the action “fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted, ” is “frivolous or malicious, ” or “seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief.” 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B). As a pro se litigant, the plaintiff's pleadings are accorded liberal construction and held to a less stringent standard than formal pleadings drafted by attorneys. See Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007) (per curiam). However, even under this less stringent standard, a portion of the pro se pleading remains subject to summary dismissal. The requirement of liberal construction does not mean that the court can ignore a clear failure in the pleading to allege facts which set forth a claim cognizable in a federal district court. See Weller v. Dep't of Soc. Servs., 901 F.2d 387, 391 (4th Cir. 1990).

         DISCUSSION

         This court lacks subject matter jurisdiction over Dowling, Beason, Gravely, Miller, Chasten, Richards, Bridwell, and McIver because there is no individual liability under Title VII. Title VII prohibits discrimination by employers. See 42 U.S.C § 2000e-2. Title VII defines “employer” as “a person engaged in an industry affecting commerce who has fifteen or more employees . . . and any agent of such person.” 42 U.S.C. § 2000e(b). It is well-established that Title VII does not impose individual liability on supervisory employees. See Lissau v. Southern Food Serv., Inc., 159 F.3d 177, 180-81 (4th Cir. 1998) (holding that supervisors cannot be found liable in their individual capacity under Title VII because they do not fit within the definition of an employer).

         Here, it is clear that the plaintiff does not allege that these defendants were his employer, and, thus, he cannot sue them for employment discrimination. See Baird v. Rose, 192 F.3d 462, 472 (4th Cir. 1999) (finding that Title VII does not provide a remedy against an entity who does not come within the definition of employer); Singleton v. Greenville Hous. Auth., C/A No. 6:09-2104-JMC-KFM, 2010 WL 6065085, at *4-5 (D.S.C. Sept. 21, 2010) (explaining only an “employer” of an “employee” can be liable for discrimination under Title VII), adopted by, 2011 WL 883669, at *2 (D.S.C. March 11, 2011). Accordingly, the undersigned recommends that Dowling, Beason, Gravely, Miller, Chasten, Richards, Bridwell, and McIver be dismissed as defendants.[1]

         RECOMMENDATION

         For the foregoing reasons, it is recommended that Defendants Robert Dowling, Louis Beason, Deborah Gravely, Athena Miller, Steven Chasten, Mark Richards, Rick Bridwell, and Scoot McIver be dismissed from this action without prejudice and without issuance and service of process. See Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 324-25 (1989); Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519 (1972); and 28 U.S.C. ยง 1915A (as soon as possible after docketing, district courts should review prisoner cases to determine whether they are ...


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