United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Charleston Division
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
Bristow Marchantlr United States Magistrate Judge.
action has been filed by the Plaintiff asserting claims of
sexual harassment and retaliation against the Defendants in
violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42
U.S.C. § 2000e, et. seq. Plaintiff
also asserts a state law claim for negligent hiring,
training, and supervision.
Defendants filed a motion for summary judgment pursuant to
Rule 56, Fed.R.Civ.P., on August 29, 2017. Plaintiff filed a
memorandum in opposition to the Defendants' motion on
September 26, 2017. The Defendants were thereafter granted
any extension of time until September 29, 2017 file a reply
memorandum, but no reply was ever filed. The Defendants'
motion is now before the court for disposition.
alleges in her Complaint that on or about March 2015, she
“began working for Defendant Detyens through Defendant
Hitrak, as a laborer”. Complaint ¶
Plaintiff alleges that on or about June 14, 2015, she was
sexually harassed by another employee, Herman Johnson.
Plaintiff alleges that she reported this harassment to
various supervisors, and that she was thereafter terminated
in retaliation for reporting this sexual harassment.
First Cause of Action, which is titled
“Sexual Harassment Title VII of Civil Rights Act of
1964”, Plaintiff asserts a sexual harassment claim
against the “Defendant Company” for allowing
continued sexual harassment to occur after the Defendant had
been informed that the contact was unwanted, by allowing
Johnson to maintain his presence near the Plaintiff while at
work, and by refusing to remove the Plaintiff from the
hostile work environment and sexual harassment. Plaintiff
also alleges that the “Defendant Company”
retaliated against her by terminating her employment for
engaging in protected conduct; i.e., reporting sexual
harassment. In her Second
Cause of Action, for “negligent
hiring, training and supervision”, Plaintiff alleges
that the “Defendant” was negligent, wanton,
reckless and/or acted with deliberate indifference by failing
to adequately monitor and supervise the hiring practices of
its personnel to ensure that only qualified applicants were
hired, by failing to adequately train personnel, and by
failing to supervise and correct actions of its personnel
when they knew or should have known of improper conduct.
Plaintiff seeks monetary damages against the
“Defendant”. See generally,
evidence submitted with respect to the harassment incident at
issue is essentially undisputed. This evidence shows that on
June 14, 2015, Plaintiff was working in the hold of the cargo
section of a ship when at one point she was bending over to
do something when another employee, Herman Johnson, grabbed
her from behind. Plaintiff's Deposition, pp.
56-57. Plaintiff described the incident as follows:
When I was bending over, when he came down, when he, you
know, touched me - -grabbed me from the back, I stood up and
I said, what the f***? And I turned around and I started
fighting him. I started hitting him. He was just standing
there and just looking at me. And I was like - - I was like,
okay, Vania calm down, because this guy could rape you, kill
you and throw you in one of these tanks and no one will ever
find you. And after, when I fought him, when I
started hitting him, he looked at me. And I stood there and I
looked at him to see what he was going to do. He walked away.
When he walked away, I went to a different part, different
section of the area. And I was saying, you know, I hope he
hurries and leaves so I can leave, because I didn't want
- - I was thinking, should I run up the ladder? I didn't
want to entice - - I didn't want to do anything
that's going to get him to - - you know, get him angry or
whatnot. I didn't know where his mind was at.
Deposition, p. 58.
testified that prior to this incident, she was not familiar
with Johnson, and that she had never seen Johnson on a boat
with her crew. Plaintiff testified that “that's
what scared me about the situation, that he obviously was
watching me”. Id., p. 65. Plaintiff testified
that after Johnson went up the ladder, she went up after him,
and “just took off” and went to her supervisor.
Id., pp. 58-59. Plaintiff testified that she
immediately reported what had happened to her supervisor
“Waddell”, and that Waddell then reported what
had happened to Joe Gordine. Id., pp. 59-60.
Plaintiff testified that Gordine then called her in (this was
that same day), and that she told Gordine that Johnson had
come up behind her while she was bending over and
“grabbed me from my vagina to my rear end. His hand is
big. When he touched my butt area, he touched my
vagina”. Id., pp. 60-61. When asked if Gordine
believed her, Plaintiff testified “yes”.
Id., p. 61. Gordine told Plaintiff that he was going
to report what had happened to “Andy”, who was
Gordine's boss. Id., pp. 61-62. Plaintiff
testified that she then went home. Id.
testified that when she reported to work the following day,
she was “called off the job” to go meet with Andy
Anderson, Joe Mack, “Ray”, “Paul” and
“Ms. Vicky”. Id., pp. 63-64, 66.
Plaintiff testified that during her meeting with the
supervisors, they asked Plaintiff what she wanted to have
done, and that she told them she wanted Johnson arrested.
Plaintiff further testified that she also wanted him not to
work in the same ships as she worked in. When Plaintiff was
Did you tell them, you guys don't have to fire him, but
just keep him away from me in a different ship? You made it
clear that you wanted him to work on ships other than ones
you were on?
I said - - yeah, I probably said that. Yeah, I did say I
don't want him near me.
Id., p. 67.
further testified that after she met and spoke with her
supervisors, when she went back to the ship she saw Johnson
“being escorted off the ship”. Id., p.
66. When Plaintiff was asked is she knew what had happened to
Johnson, Plaintiff testified that it was her understanding
that he was terminated “that very day”, and that
she had never seen him again since then. Id., p. 68.
Plaintiff also testified that she had never talked to Johnson
before this incident other than to say “hi” -
that she had never had a conversation with him, and that the
only time she had ever seen him was at the shipyard when he
was introduced to her and a coworker as Chris Johnson's
brother. Id., p. 68.
Plaintiff was asked if she thought Joe Gordine had handled
the situation properly, Plaintiff said “yes”.
When asked the same question about Andy Anderson, Plaintiff
said “yes”. Plaintiff testified she could not say
how anyone else had handled the situation - - that she had
told them what happened but did not know what they had done
afterwards. However, Plaintiff confirmed that Johnson was
terminated, that she “felt relieved” that Johnson
had been terminated, and that she had then returned to work.
Id., p. 70. Plaintiff also testified that she never
had any further meetings with anybody about the Herman
Johnson incident after the day he was terminated, but that
she did try to pursue criminal charges through the police,
who advised her that she should talk to a lawyer.
Id., pp. 71-73.
Defendants have moved for summary judgment on all of
Plaintiff's claims. Summary judgment shall be rendered
forthwith if the pleadings, depositions, answers to
interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the
affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to
any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to
judgment as a matter of law. Rule 56, Fed.R.Civ.P.
moving party has the burden of proving that judgment on the
pleadings is appropriate. Temkin v. Frederick County
Comm'rs, 945 F.2d 716, 718 (4th Cir. 1991). Once the
moving party makes this showing, however, to avoid summary
judgment the opposing party must respond to the motion with
specific facts showing there is a genuine issue for trial.
Baber v. Hosp. Corp. of Am., 977 F.2d 872, 874-75
(4th Cir. 1992).