United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Spartanburg Division
Cordarius O. Gray, Plaintiff,
BMW Manufacturing Co. LLC, Management Analysis & Utilization Inc. d/b/a MAU Workforce Solutions Inc. d/b/a Tier One Solutions, Defendants.
OPINION AND ORDER
S/BRUCE HOWE HENDRICKS, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
action arises out of Plaintiff Cordarious O. Gray's
(“Plaintiff” or “Gray”) termination
with Defendants Management Analysis & Utilization Inc.
(“MAU”) and BMW Manufacturing Co. LLC
(“BMW”) (collectively “Defendants”).
On October 6, 2015, Plaintiff filed this action pursuant to
the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”). In
accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1) and Local Civil
Rule 73.02(B)(2)(g), D.S.C., this matter was referred to
United States Magistrate Judge Jacquelyn D. Austin for
consideration. On December 15, 2016, BMW and MAU each filed a
motion for summary judgment (ECF Nos. 34 & 35). Plaintiff
responded on December 29, 2016 (ECF No. 36), and BMW and MAU
each filed a reply on January 5, 2017 (ECF Nos. 38 & 39).
The Magistrate Judge prepared a thorough Report and
Recommendation (“Report”), which recommends that
BMW's motion for summary judgment be granted and that
MAU's motion for summary judgment be granted with respect
to Plaintiff's discrimination and retaliation claims and
denied with respect to Plaintiff's failure to accommodate
claim. (ECF No. 42.) MAU filed timely objections (ECF No.
43), to which Plaintiff replied (ECF No. 47). Plaintiff filed
timely objections (ECF No. 44), to which BMW and MAU replied
(ECF Nos. 45 & 48). After careful consideration of the
record, the briefing, and the relevant law, and for the
reasons set forth herein, the Court adopts the Report, grants
summary judgment as to BMW, grants summary judgment as to MAU
with respect to the discrimination and retaliation claims,
and denies summary judgment as to MAU with respect to the
failure to accommodate claim.
AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
Report sets forth in detail the relevant facts and standards
of law and the Court incorporates them and summarizes below
only in relevant part. In his complaint Gray alleges causes
of action for (1) termination of his employment because of a
disability (discrimination claim), (2) denial of reasonable
accommodation for said disability (failure to accommodate
claim), and (3) retaliation for engaging in protected
activity (retaliation claim) under the ADA. Gray was an
employee of MAU assigned to work as a production associate at
the BMW manufacturing plant in Greer, South
Carolina. BMW concedes that it is Gray's
“employer” for purposes of the ADA, pursuant to a
joint employment relationship between MAU and BMW.
maintains an employee handbook that applies to associates
assigned to work at BMW. Gray received a copy of this
handbook when he began working for MAU. The handbook contains
MAU's alcohol and substance abuse policy. The policy
states that any employee will be drug tested “after any
accident.” The policy further provides: “If an
associate tests positive in the initial on-site test, he/she
will immediately be suspended until verification of the test
results by an off-site laboratory. If the Medical Review
Officer confirms a positive test by the off-site laboratory,
then the associate's employment will be
terminated.” (ECF No. 35-8 at 13.)
of the new-hire process in November 2012, Gray submitted to a
pre-employment drug screen, and completed a consent form on
which he indicated he was taking 20 mg of Adderall. The
results of the pre-employment drug screen, however, were
negative. Gray never made further disclosure of his Adderall
use than this pre-employment consent form. Throughout his
employment with MAU at the BMW plant, Gray took Adderall
every day that he worked.
January 22, 2013, Gray was using a forklift to stack a
container on top of another container. While performing this
task, Gray hit and damaged a wall mounted control panel with
a container, and was required to submit to a drug test in
accordance with the policy. The initial onsite drug screen
was negative. Gray reported as directed for a laboratory drug
screen on January 24, 2013, and again indicated 20 mg of
Adderall on the consent form. On January 29, 2013, Gray's
hair sample drug screen came back negative. On February 3,
2013, Gray's urine drug screen came back positive for
contracted with Spartanburg Regional Occupational Health
(“SROH”) to perform its drug testing confirmation
processes. A representative of SROH, LaShaunna Brannon
(“Brannon”), was supposed to follow up with Gray
to request proof of a valid prescription for Adderall.
Brannon states that she called Gray at the phone number
listed on the consent form on four consecutive days and,
receiving no answer, left messages each time requesting Gray
to call back. Gray states that he never received any calls
from Brannon, and that voicemail service was not even set up
on the phone number in question. Gray never provided a
prescription for Adderall to SROH.
Brannon forwarded Gray's positive test result to Dr.
Michael Alday (“Alday”), the Medical Review
Officer (“MRO”), for review and certification.
Brannon informed Alday that she had contacted Gray on four
consecutive days and left messages, but had received no
response. On February 8, 2013, Alday signed the results of
Gray's urinalysis screen, certifying a positive result
forwarded the certified positive drug screen to MAU on
February 8, 2013. On February 11, 2013, MAU supervisors,
including Jody Devore (“Devore”), Ronnie Rice
(“Rice”), and Dwayne Oakley
(“Oakley”), discussed the positive result in an
email chain. (Ex. 3, Rice Dep., ECF No. 36-4 at 9-10.) Devore
forwarded the email to Kim Hoffman (“Hoffman”), a
nurse with an occupational health background, and asked the
Do we need to have the Doctor take a second look at this.
The individual stated that they are on Aderal [sic] which may
possibly show up as Amphetamines.
Coradrius may just need to bring in his script for the
(Id. at 9.) Oakley, who was copied on the forward to
Hoffman, responded: “The MRO actually makes contact
with any employees [sic] that has a positive screening to
discuss medications that they are taken [sic] before signing
off on the screening.” (Id.)
who was Gray's direct supervisor at MAU, made the
decision to terminate Gray on February 13, 2013. Devore
approved the termination decision on February 14, 2013. On
February 15, 2013, after Gray had worked almost a full day,
Rice met with Gray and another unidentified MAU supervisor,
and informed Gray that his position with MAU was terminated
based on the positive drug test result (“termination
meeting”). During the meeting, Gray offered to provide
proof of a prescription for Adderall, and stated that he was
taking the medication due to a diagnosis of ADD. Rice told
Gray that because he had failed to respond to calls from the
testing site or to provide a valid prescription, the test
results had been certified as positive.
the termination meeting, Gray contacted MAU about submitting
proof of a prescription for Adderall. He spoke with an
unidentified employee at MAU, who instructed him to call the
drug testing center. However, when Gray called the testing
center, he was told that MAU would have to give the testing
center permission to accept his submission of a prescription.
13, 2013, Gray filed charges of discrimination with the EEOC
alleging that MAU and BMW had discriminated against and
retaliated against him on the basis of a disability. The EEOC
issued a notice of right to sue on July 8, 2015, and this
lawsuit was filed on October 6, 2015.
MAU seek summary judgment on all causes of action. In
general, they argue that Gray's termination was the
routine result of a certified positive drug test, conducted
in accordance with MAU's alcohol and substance abuse
policy. According to Defendants, Gray was provided with
multiple opportunities to substantiate his lawful Adderall
use by providing a valid prescription and never did so. Thus,
Defendants argue, MAU was justified in terminating Gray, and
the Court should not second guess its business judgment. Gray
opposes summary judgment, arguing generally that Defendants
knew he was taking Adderall, and knew that he had a
prescription, but decided to fire him anyway. Gray asserts
that his ADD was the real reason for his termination, and
that Defendants failed to make reasonable accommodation for
this disability when he asked to produce a valid prescription
during the termination meeting so that he could keep taking
Adderall while working for Defendants. In addition, Gray
argues that his termination was ultimately in retaliation for
him making this accommodation request.
Court has thoroughly reviewed the objections to the Report
and the relevant case law. Additionally, the parties appeared
before the Court for oral argument on their objections on
July 26, 2017. (ECF No. 51.) After due consideration, the
Court finds that the law entirely supports the Magistrate
Judge's conclusions and recommendations; thus, the Court
will overrule the parties' objections and enter judgment
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). The Court need not
conduct a de novo review when a party makes only
“general and conclusory objections that do not direct
the court to a specific error in the magistrate's
proposed findings and recommendations.” Orpiano v.
Johnson, 687 F.2d 44, 47 (4th ...