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Coleman v. Schneider Electric USA Inc

United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Anderson/Greenwood Division

February 5, 2018

Samantha L. Coleman, Plaintiff,
v.
Schneider Electric USA, Inc., Defendant.

          OPINION & ORDER

          Henry M. Herlong, Jr. Senior United States District Judge.

         This matter is before the court with the Report and Recommendation of United States Magistrate Judge Kevin F. McDonald, made in accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 636(b) and Local Civil Rule 73.02 of the District of South Carolina.[1] Samantha L. Coleman (“Coleman”) alleges race discrimination and retaliation claims against her employer, Schneider Electric USA, Inc. (“Schneider Electric”) under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (“Title VII”), as amended by the Civil Rights Act of 1991, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e, et seq., and the Equal Pay Act of 1963 (“EPA”), 29 U.S.C. § 206(d). Schneider Electric filed a motion for summary judgment on July 13, 2017. (Mot. Summ. J., ECF No. 70.) Magistrate Judge McDonald recommends granting Schneider Electric's motion for summary judgment. (R&R, ECF No. 78.) After review, the court adopts the magistrate judge's Report and Recommendation and grants Schneider Electric's motion for summary judgment.

         I. Factual and Procedural History

         Coleman, an African American female, was hired by Schneider Electric as an electrical drafter in its Switchboard Order Engineering Group in September 1992 at its manufacturing facility in Seneca, South Carolina. (Mot. Summ. J. Attach. 3 (Pl. Dep. 18), ECF No. 70-3.) In June 1995, Coleman was promoted to Application Engineer in the Switchboard Order Engineering Group. (Id. Attach. 3 (Pl. Dep. 19-21), ECF No. 70-3.) In 1999, Schneider Electric transferred its switchboard production to its Columbia, South Carolina facility and moved its enclosed drives production from Columbia to its Seneca facility. (Id. Attach. 3 (Pl. Dep. 22), ECF No. 70-3.) Coleman remained at the Seneca facility and was transferred to the Enclosed Drives Group. (Id. Attach. 3 (Pl. Dep. 22-24), ECF No. 70-3.) Ammon L. “Lanny” Sullivan, Jr. (“Sullivan”), the Order Engineering Supervisor over the Enclosed Drives Group at the time, relocated to the Seneca facility and became Coleman's supervisor. (Id. Attach. 3 (Pl. Dep. 22-24), ECF No. 70-3.)

         In 2002, Sullivan assigned Coleman as the coordinator for engineering training. (Mot. Summ. J. Attach. 3 (Pl. Dep. 25-26), ECF No. 70-3.) Coleman did not obtain a promotion or receive any additional pay in connection with this assignment. (Id. Attach. 3 (Pl. Dep. 25-29), ECF No. 70-3.) In 2006, Coleman was promoted to Senior Application Engineer. (Id. Attach. 3 (Pl. Dep. 26-27), ECF No. 70-3.) Coleman's annual performance reviews were consistently well above average. (Id. Attach. 5 (Stokes Dep. Exs. 3, 5, 7, 10), ECF No. 70-5.) Salary increases were, in significant part, dependent upon these annual performance reviews. (Id. Attach. 5 (Stokes Dep. 45-48), ECF No. 70-5.)

         Sullivan retired on July 1, 2012, and Schneider Electric elected not to fill his position. (Resp. Opp'n Mot. Summ. J. Attach. 1 (Coleman Aff. ¶¶ 18-19), ECF No. 73-1.) Sullivan's duties and responsibilities were delegated among the members of the Enclosed Drives Group. (Id. Attach. 1 (Coleman Aff. ¶ 19), ECF No. 73-1.) Coleman was designated the Administrative Lead in Enclosed Drives. (Mot. Summ. J. Attach. 5 (Stokes Dep. 144), ECF No. 70-5.) According to Ted Stokes (“Stokes”), the Enclosed Drives Manager, Coleman's salary increase in July 2012, reflected the new duties she was assigned as Administrative Lead. (Id. Attach. 5 (Stokes Dep. 48), ECF No. 70-5.) However, Coleman's 2012 Individual Salary Statement does not indicate that the increase was related to the additional duties and Coleman was never informed that her annual salary increase was compensation for these additional duties. (Id. Attach. 5 (Stokes Dep. Ex. 4 (2012 Individual Salary Statement), ECF No. 70-5.)

         Schneider Electric has an internal recruiting department that is responsible for coordinating and handling the process of filling vacant positions. (Id. Attach. 6 (Burke Dep. 23-24), ECF No. 70-6.) Schneider Electric employees can apply for vacant positions online. (Id. Attach. 6 (Burke Dep. 115-16), ECF No. 70-6.) On February 5, 2014, Coleman submitted an application for Schneider Electric's Customer Service Supervisor position. (Resp. Opp'n Mot. Summ. J. Attach. 1 (Coleman Aff. ¶ 20), ECF No. 73-1.) While Schneider Electric's recruiting department was searching for a candidate to fill the position, Ken Hooker (“Hooker”), the hiring manager, requested that Jeff Marcengill (“Marcengill”), Technical Assistant Group (“TAG”) Supervisor in Hooker's department, assume the duties of the Customer Service Supervisor position on an interim basis. (Mot. Summ. J. Attach. 3 (Pl. Dep. 101), ECF No. 70-3.)

         Before any candidates were formally interviewed for the position, the Seneca Plant Manager, Larry Smith (“Smith”), received a directive to reduce base costs at the facility. (Id. Attach. 8 (Hooker Dep. 44), ECF No. 70-8.) Hooker suggested to Smith that he could achieve a cost reduction in his department by not filling the Customer Service Supervisor position and having Marcengill assume those duties on a permanent basis. (Id. Attach. 8 (Hooker Dep. 45-46), ECF No. 70-8.) Smith discussed Hooker's proposal with Jamie McDonald (“McDonald”), Vice President responsible for overseeing Schneider Electric's plants, and agreed that the Customer Service Supervisor position would not be filled, and the duties would be permanently assigned to Marcengill. (Id. Attach. 8 (Hooker Dep. 48-49), ECF No. 70-8.) Accordingly, Schneider Electric consolidated the Customer Service and TAG Supervisor positions, and Marcengill assumed the Customer Service Supervisor duties on a permanent basis. (Id. Attach. 8 (Hooker Dep. 48-50), ECF No. 70-8.) Marcengill did not receive a pay raise as a result of this consolidation. (Mot. Summ. J. Attach. 8 (Hooker Dep. 50), ECF No. 70-8.)

         Hooker and Jeff Brown (“Brown”), the Senior Human Resources Representative, met with Coleman and advised her that she was not going to be interviewed for the Customer Service Supervisor position because it was being consolidated with the position of TAG Supervisor. (Id. Attach. 3 (Pl. Dep. 100-01), ECF No. 70-3.) Schneider Electric's Customer Service Supervisor requisition history, Requisition 000U2L, provides that the requisition was cancelled on March 5, 2014: “Requisition cancelled: Req cancelled as internal promotion to strategize and reduce base costs.” (Resp. Opp'n Mot. Summ. J. Attach. 4 (Requisition History), ECF No. 73-4.)

         Marcengill does not have a four-year college degree. (Mot. Summ. J. Attach. 8 (Hooker Dep. 49), ECF No. 70-8.) Coleman holds a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering Technology. (Resp. Opp'n Mot. Summ. J. Attach. 1 (Coleman Aff. ¶ 3), ECF No. 73-1.) At the time that Marcengill assumed the Customer Service Supervisor duties, Schneider Electric had a requirement that an employee have a four-year degree in order to become a supervisor. (Mot. Summ. J. Attach. 7 (Brown Dep. 54), ECF No. 70-7.) However, employees with the title of supervisor were grandfathered in regardless of whether they had a four-year degree. (Id. Attach. 7 (Brown Dep. 54), ECF No. 70-7.)

         On February 7, 2014, Coleman submitted an application for the position of LVMCC Assembly/Fabrication Manager. (Resp. Opp'n Mot. Summ. J. Attach. 1 (Coleman Aff. ¶ 24), ECF No. 73-1.) Three other candidates from the Seneca facility applied for the position, and Schneider Electric received two hundred applications from outside candidates. (Mot. Summ. J. Attach. 7 (Brown Dep. 39), ECF No. 70-7.) According to Schneider Electric, after reviewing the candidates' resumes and applications, it determined that none of the candidates, including Coleman, possessed the necessary supervisory or management experience. (Id. Attach. 7 (Brown Dep. Ex. 4), ECF No. 70-7.) Schneider Electric expanded its search and eventually hired Robert Ireton, who had eighteen years of experience as a production and business unit manager and, in his previous role as a manufacturing manager, was responsible for overseeing the entire manufacturing operations of a low volume, highly complex plant. (Id. Attach. 7 (Brown Dep. Ex. 4), ECF No. 70-7.)

         In April 2014, Coleman met with Brown, Schneider Electric's Senior Human Resources Representative at the Seneca facility, to discuss her concerns about not being interviewed for the Customer Service Supervisor and the LVMCC Assembly/Fabrication Manager positions. (Resp. Opp'n Mot. Summ. J. Attach. 1 (Coleman Aff. ¶ 27), ECF No. 73-1.) Coleman specifically told Brown that she was subjected to discrimination due to her race and gender, because she met the qualifications for each position, but was not granted an interview for either job. (Id. Attach. 1 (Coleman Aff. ¶ 27), ECF No. 73-1.) Coleman alleges that Brown told her that he did not want to hear her complaints about discrimination and asked her to leave his office. (Id. Attach. 1 (Coleman Aff. ¶ 28), ECF No. 73-1.)

         In July 2014, Coleman met with her manager, Stokes, to discuss Schneider Electric's failure to consider her applications for the positions and her claims of racial and gender discrimination. (Id. Attach. 1 (Coleman Aff. ¶ 29), ECF No. 73-1.) Coleman testified that Stokes refused to discuss the employment discrimination issues with her, telling her that she would have to discuss that with the Human Resources Department, and asked her to leave his office. (Id. Attach. 1 (Coleman Aff. ¶ 29), ECF No. 73-1.) On July 30, 2014, Coleman filed a Charge of Discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”), alleging that she had been discriminated against on the basis of her race and gender. (Mot. Summ. J. Attach. 3 (Coleman Dep. Ex. 23 (EEOC Charge of Discrimination)), ECF No. 70-3.) Specifically, Coleman alleged that she was unlawfully denied promotions to the positions of Customer Service Supervisor and LVMCC Assembly/Fabrication Manager, and that Schneider Electric was paying her less than Sullivan despite the fact that she was performing the same job duties. (Id. Attach. 3 (Coleman Dep. Ex. 23 (EEOC Charge of Discrimination)), ECF No. 70-3.)

         In October 2014, Coleman submitted her application for the position of Technical Trainer Application Engineer (“Trainer position”), which was a vacant position at Schneider Electric's Columbia facility. (Resp. Opp'n Mot. Summ. J. Attach. 1 (Coleman Aff. ¶ 31), ECF No. 73-1.) Coleman alleges that she met all of the requirements for the Trainer position. (Id. Attach. 1 (Coleman Aff. ¶ 34), ECF No. 73-1.) Further, Coleman claims that she was particularly well suited for this position because she had years of experience training order engineers in the Enclosed Drives Group in Seneca and had experience with the pertinent products. (Id. Attach. 1 (Coleman Aff. ΒΆ 34), ECF No. 73-1.) On October 29, 2014, Coleman had an ...


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