Searching over 5,500,000 cases.

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Nowlin v. Terminix Service Inc.

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

March 28, 2018




         Plaintiff Christopher Nowlin (“Plaintiff”) filed this action on February 7, 201');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">16, seeking recovery against former employer Defendant Terminix Service, Inc. (“Terminix”), and against former co-workers Defendants John Stroman and Larry Parker. The Complaint asserts that, during his employment with Terminix, Plaintiff complained to his supervisor that he believed he was being subjected to race discrimination. [ECF #1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1, 2');">p. 2]. Within the Complaint, Counts One, Two, and Three allege that Plaintiff was subject to disparate discipline/race discrimination, retaliation and wrongful termination by Terminix in violation of Title VII, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e, et seq. and/or in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1981');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1. [ECF #1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1, pp. 1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">14-1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">17]. Plaintiff also alleges in Count Ten that Terminix violated 29 U.S.C. § 201');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1, the Fair Labor Standards Act (the “FLSA”). [ECF #1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1, 2');">p. 23]. Plaintiff alleges in Count Six that Terminix engaged in negligent supervision of its employees. [ECF #1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1, p. 1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">19]. Plaintiff further alleges in Counts Four and Seven that all Defendants made false and slanderous statements about him and were engaged in a civil conspiracy. [ECF #1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1, p. 1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">18, 20]. Plaintiff alleges in Counts Five and Eight that Defendants Stroman and Parker engaged in third party interference with a contract. [ECF #1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1, p. 1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">18]. Plaintiff also brings a claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress against what appears to be all Defendants. [ECF #1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1, 2');">p. 22].

         Discovery ended on February 3, 201');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">17. On March 3, 201');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">17, Defendants filed a motion for summary judgment. [ECF #34]. On April 7, 201');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">17, Plaintiff filed his response in opposition to Defendant's motion. [ECF #40]. Defendants filed their reply in support of their motion on April 1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">14, 201');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">17. [ECF #41');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1]. In accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1)(A) and Local Civil Rule 73.02(B)(2)(g) (D.S.C.), this matter was referred to a Magistrate Judge for pretrial handling. This matter is now before the Court after issuance of the Report and Recommendation (“R&R”) of United States Magistrate Judge Thomas E. Rogers, III. [ECF #2');">52]. In the R&R, the Magistrate Judge recommends granting the motion for summary judgment in its entirety. This matter is now before the Court for review. Plaintiff filed his objections to the R&R on February 1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">13, 201');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">18. [ECF #55]. Defendants replied to these objections on February 26, 201');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">18. [ECF #57].

         Standards of Review

         I. Review of the Magistrate Judge's R&R

         The Magistrate Judge makes only a recommendation to the district court. The recommendation has no presumptive weight. The responsibility to make a final determination remains with the district court. Mathews v. Weber, 23 U.S. 261');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">423 U.S. 261');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1, 270-71');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1 (1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1976). The district court is charged with making a de novo determination of those portions of the Report to which specific objection is made, and the court may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the recommendation of the Magistrate Judge, or recommit the matter with instructions. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1).

         The district court is obligated to conduct a de novo review of every portion of the Magistrate Judge's report to which objections have been filed. Id. However, the court need not conduct a de novo review when a party makes only “general and conclusory objections that do not direct the [C]ourt to a specific error in the [M]agistrate's proposed findings and recommendations.” Orpiano v. Johnson, 687 F.2d 44, 47 (4th Cir. 1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1982). The Court reviews only for clear error in the absence of a specific objection. See Diamond v. Colonial Life & Accident Ins. Co., 41');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">16 F.3d 31');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">10, 31');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">15 (4th Cir. 2005).

         II. Summary Judgment Standard

         Summary judgment “shall be rendered forthwith if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). The moving party has the burden of proving that summary judgment is appropriate. Once the moving party makes the showing, however, the opposing party must respond to the motion with “specific facts showing there is a genuine issue for trial.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e).

         When no genuine issue of any material fact exists, summary judgment is appropriate. Shealy v. Winston, 29 F.2d 1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1009');">929 F.2d 1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1009, 1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">101');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">11');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1 (4th Cir. 1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1991');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1). The facts and inferences to be drawn from the evidence must be viewed in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. Id. However, “the mere existence of some alleged factual dispute between the parties will not defeat an otherwise properly supported motion for summary judgment; the requirement is that there be no genuine issue of material fact.” Id. (quoting Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247-48 (1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1986)).

         In this case, Defendants bear the “initial burden of pointing to the absence of a genuine issue of material fact.” Temkin v. Frederick Cnty. Comm'rs, 2d 71');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">16');">945 F.2d 71');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">16, 71');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">18 (4th Cir. 1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1991');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1) (citing Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 77 U.S. 31');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">17');">477 U.S. 31');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">17, 322 (1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1986)). If Defendants carry this burden, “the burden then shifts to the non-moving party to come forward with fact sufficient to create a triable issue of fact.” Id. at 71');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">18-1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">19 (citing Anderson, 477 U.S. at 247-48).

         Moreover, “once the moving party has met its burden, the nonmoving party must come forward with some evidence beyond the mere allegations contained in the pleadings to show there is a genuine issue for trial.” Baber v. Hosp. Corp. of Am., 77 F.2d 872');">977 F.2d 872, 874-75 (4th Cir. 1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1992). The nonmoving party may not rely on beliefs, conjecture, speculation, of conclusory allegations to defeat a motion for summary judgment. See id; Doyle v. Sentry, Inc., 77 F.Supp. 1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1002');">877 F.Supp. 1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1002, 1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1005 (E.D. Va. 1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1995). Rather, the nonmoving party is required to submit evidence of specific facts by way of affidavits, depositions, interrogatories, or admissions to demonstrate the existence of a genuine and material factual issue for trial. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c), (e); Baber, 977 F.2d at 875 (citing Celotex, 477 U.S. at 324)). Moreover, the nonmovant's proof must meet “the substantive evidentiary standard of proof that would apply at a trial on the merits.” Mitchell v. Data Gen. Corp., 1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">12 F.3d 1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">131');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">10');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">12 F.3d 1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">131');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">10, 1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">131');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">16 (4th Cir. 1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1993); DeLeon v. St. Joseph Hosp., Inc., 71');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1 F.2d 1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1229');">871');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1 F.2d 1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1229, 1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1223 n.7 (4th Cir. 1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1989). In discrimination cases, a party is entitled to summary judgment if no reasonable jury could rule in the non-moving party's favor. See Dennis v. Columbia Colleton Med. Ctr., Inc., 290 F.3d 639');">290 F.3d 639, 645 (4th Cir. 2002).

         Factual Background and Procedural History

         The facts of this case, including the citations to the record, are adequately set forth in the Magistrate Judge's R&R. [ECF #2');">52, p2');">p. 2-1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">14]. Briefly stated, Plaintiff was hired by Larry Parker, the branch manager for Defendant Terminix's Florence branch, as a full-time employee on January 1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">16, 201');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">12. Defendant Parker testified that Plaintiff was hired to perform “moisture work” which consisted of encapsulations, moisture barriers, sump pumps, and insulation work.[1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1" name="FN1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1" id= "FN1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1] Prior to this date, Plaintiff had performed work with one of Terminix's contractors; thus, Defendant Parker was familiar with Plaintiff's work. Plaintiff asserts he was hired as a carpenter, and Defendant Parker testified that this title was listed on his employee form.[2" name="FN2" id= "FN2">2] However, Defendant Parker explained that Plaintiff was given that listing on his new employee form because while Plaintiff lacked the formal training or experience to be considered for that role, Terminix did not have an official position titled “Carpenter's Assistant.”[3] In fact, Plaintiff testified that he was hired on as a carpenter with “no job title” but instead for the duties that go under the “Carpenter” title.[4]Nonetheless, the parties agree that the job duties for either position, regardless of title, were substantially the same.

         According to Plaintiff, sometime in 201');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">13, another employee, Jimmy Hewitt, stated something like “we put people like you in a septic tank” or “people like you we kill them and put them in the septic tanks” and directed the comment at Plaintiff while working together.[5]Plaintiff testified that on that day, Mr. Hewitt had been saying “crazy” stuff prior to the comment.[6] Plaintiff further testified that no one had ever used a racial or derogatory term toward him while he was employed at Terminix.[7" name="FN7" id= "FN7">7] Afterward, he testified that he told Defendant Parker about this comment, that he did not work with Mr. Hewitt anymore unless they “had to, ” and that Mr. Parker pulled him off that job site for a while to do other tasks.[8] Plaintiff testified that Mr. Hewitt never made a racial comment toward him or any other employees.

         Thereafter, Plaintiff states that in October of 201');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">14, Plaintiff complained to Larry Parker that he made less money than two other employees, Jimmy Hewitt and John Teal, and that he was doing additional work that these two individuals were not doing. In a daily report journal that he kept, Plaintiff indicated that he met with Defendant Parker, Defendant Stroman, and Parker's supervisor, as well as spoke to an individual in human resources about this issue regarding pay. Plaintiff indicated that he felt the difference in pay was based on race. Defendant Terminix, on the other hand, states that the difference in pay was a result of the difference in training, experience, job duties and time with the company. Specifically, Mr. Hewitt had been hired with the company in 1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1998, while Plaintiff had been hired in 201');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">12.[9] Mr. Hewitt also had specialized training as a carpenter that Plaintiff did not have.[1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">10" name="FN1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">10" id= "FN1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">10">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">10] Mr. Teal had also been employed with the company as a carpenter, but he was out on workers' compensation in 201');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">14.[1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">11');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1" name="FN1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">11');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1" id="FN1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">11');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">11');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1] In the course of this discussion, Defendant Parker informed Plaintiff that he had actually been hired as a carpenter's assistant, and that he was unable to increase Plaintiff's pay because the work that he had been performing was decreasing. Plaintiff testified that he did not have any knowledge of Hewitt and Teal's qualifications prior to making this complaint, and he further acknowledged that he had been doing less encapsulation work and more re-inspections because there was not as much encapsulation work to be performed.[1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">12" name="FN1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">12" id="FN1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">12">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">12] Plaintiff testified that he did not have any knowledge on the basis for the difference in pay other than the fact that he knew they were being paid different hourly rates.[1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">13" name="FN1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">13" id="FN1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">13">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">13] Defendant Parker further testified that based on the amount of moisture work at the time Plaintiff asked for a raise, it was not something the company could justify. Instead, they discussed incentive pay to give him the opportunity to earn more money.[1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">14" name="FN1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">14" id="FN1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">14">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">14]

         On October 1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">17, 201');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">14, three days after Plaintiff's initial complaint about his pay, Defendant Parker informed Plaintiff that his position was being dissolved, and that the company planned to move him into a keyman position. According to the testimony of Human Resources manager Ms. Christina Thoesen, John Teal was also a carpenter who worked at the same time as Plaintiff, and he was also offered a keyman position once he returned from workers' compensation leave.[1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">15" name="FN1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">15" id="FN1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">15">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">15] On October 20, 201');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">14, Plaintiff and Defendant Parker met to discuss the keyman position and the training that would be required in order to obtain this position. Plaintiff was to begin his training in December of 201');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">14, however during that month, he was scheduled to take off work for vacation.[1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">16" name="FN1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">16" id="FN1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">16">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">16] Plaintiff alleges that right around this time period Defendant Terminix gave him a higher quota one month than other employees. Defendant Parker explained that he initially gave Plaintiff a higher quota because there was little moisture work to be done during that particular month, and he felt Plaintiff would have additional time to complete these jobs. However, once Plaintiff let him know the quota was too high, Defendant Parker testified he reduced his quota. When asked why Jimmy Hewitt did not have the same quota, Defendant Parker explained that Mr. Hewitt was a full-time carpenter, so his quota changed based on his amount of “down time”.[1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">17" name="FN1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">17" id= "FN1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">17">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">17]

         When he returned from vacation, Plaintiff signed a document changing his position from hourly to incentive pay (under the “Keyman” position). At some point after the new year, Plaintiff testified that he became curious as to how he could perform the work as a “Keyman, ” even though he did not complete his training.[1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">18" name="FN1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">18" id="FN1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">18">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">18] Therefore, he requested paperwork related to his training from Human Resources via e-mail on January 21');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1, 201');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">15.[1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">19" name="FN1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">19" id="FN1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">19">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">19] That e-mail was forwarded by Human Resources to Defendant Parker. Defendant Parker printed the e-mail and placed a copy of it in Plaintiff's box at work to discuss the requested documents. Rather than contact Defendant Parker, Plaintiff sought the information of an individual he could contact in the training department. Rose Thomas, an employee in the Florence branch, provided copies of his training materials to him.[20" name="FN20" id= "FN20">20]It was at this time that Plaintiff realized someone had signed his signature to the training materials while he was on vacation. He then sent an e-mail to Christina Thoesen on January 28, 201');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">15, an employee in Human Resources alerting her to this issue and stating that this “created a hostile working environment for me” and that the actions violated a federal statute and the “Fair Labor Act.”[21');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1" name= "FN21');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1" id="FN21');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1">21');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1] Ms. Thoesen began investigating what happened with the training materials. It was during her investigation that she learned John Stroman had signed the documents on Plaintiff's behalf in order to move him to incentive pay so that he could make more money.[22" name="FN22" id= "FN22">22] Defendant Stroman admitted to signing two graphs and initialing with Plaintiff's initials to indicate he watched a video. Defendant Parker testified that he was not aware nor did he instruct Defendant Stroman to engage in this behavior.[23" name="FN23" id="FN23">23] According to Ms. Thoesen, Mr. Stroman was disciplined by Defendant Terminix as a result of this incident.[24" name="FN24" id= "FN24">24]

         Before Ms. Thoesen had the opportunity to contact Plaintiff, Plaintiff called her to verify she received his January 28th email.[25" name="FN25" id= "FN25">25] In that conversation, Ms. Thoesen testified that she thanked Plaintiff for bringing this to their attention and that she was investigating the matter. In response, she states that Plaintiff was angry and accusatory toward her.[26" name="FN26" id= "FN26">26] When Ms. Thoesen asked Plaintiff what additional training he needed to complete prior to becoming a Keyman, he again stated that this incident created a hostile working environment.[27" name="FN27" id= "FN27">27] Over the course of this day, Thoesen alleges that Plaintiff hung up the phone on her when she tried to discuss the matter. She bases this off of the fact that she states Plaintiff said “you have a good day” each time prior to hanging up the phone, and he did not attempt to call her back after any of these dropped calls.[28" name="FN28" id= "FN28">28] By contrast, Plaintiff alleges that he received poor cell phone reception and the calls got dropped.[29" name="FN29" id= "FN29">29] The following day, she and another employee traveled to Florence to speak with Plaintiff in order to figure out what additional training he needed to perform and to discuss the incident in person.[30]In discussing Plaintiff's complaints, he alleged that the comment from Jimmy Hewitt in 201');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">13 about putting people in septic tanks, a comment from Jimmy Hewitt calling Plaintiff's brother a “bitch, ” the fact that in 201');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">13 three black guys were taken off a job site and replaced by white guys who he felt did a poor job, and his concerns about his duties as a carpenter's assistant all contributed to a hostile work environment.[1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1" name="FN31');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1" id= "FN31');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1">31');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1] At this same meeting, Plaintiff and Ms. Thoesen also discussed the training he needed to complete for the Keyman position. Ms. Thoesen attempted to schedule a time for him to complete training, but Plaintiff would not commit to a date.[2" name="FN32" id= "FN32">32] Later that day, after the meeting had concluded, Defendant Parker called Ms. Thoesen to let her know that Plaintiff stated he would not complete training until HR finished an investigation.[33] When Ms. Thoesen contacted Plaintiff to clear up any mis-communication, she stated that Plaintiff was abrupt, difficult to communicate with, and hung up the phone on her for the third time in the course of the investigation.[34] Defendant Terminix terminated Plaintiff as a result of his behavior during the investigation and the fact that he was “insubordinate” to his supervisors.[35] The decision to terminate was made by Defendant Parker and Human Resources.[36] On March 1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">15, 201');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">15, Plaintiff filed a Charge of Discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”), alleging discrimination based on race, retaliation, and hostile work environment. [ECF #2');">52, p. 1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">14]. The EEOC issued a right to sue letter on November 1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">13, 201');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">15. Plaintiff filed his Complaint in this Court on February 2, 201');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">16. [ECF #1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1].


         I. R&R and Objections

         A review of Plaintiff's objections to the R&R reveals a general disagreement with the Magistrate Judge's recitation of the facts and an overall objection as to the finding that he did not substantiate his claims against Defendants. In its response, Defendants point out that Plaintiff's objections are not specific to the findings of the Magistrate Judge; rather, Plaintiff reiterates many, if not all, of the same arguments he raised in his initial brief. This Court agrees that rather than raising specific objections, Plaintiff again lists in numerical format his recitation of the facts and suggests that these facts “show a completely different story” than those set forth by the Magistrate Judge in the R&R. Plaintiff does object to the Court's finding that Plaintiff's retaliation claim must be dismissed because he asserts he offered a plausible reason for the alleged “insubordination” in that he explained why his phone had been disconnected. [ECF #53');">53, p. 1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">14]. With respect to the FLSA claims, Plaintiff again makes a general objection that “Defendant failed and refused to pay overtime” asserting that a three year statute of limitations applies. As to the state law claims, Plaintiff asserts simply that the dismissal of these claims will have a prejudicial effect on Plaintiff. [ECF #53');">53, p. 1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">15]. In the absence of specific objections, this Court reviews the R&R for clear error. See Diamond v. Colonial Life & Accident Ins. Co., 1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">16 F.3d 31');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">10');">41');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">16 F.3d 31');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">10, 31');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">15 (4th Cir. 2005). While this Court in reviewing the R&R does not find clear error, this Court, in its discretion, has conducted a de novo review of Plaintiff's claims and now issues the following Order.

         II. Plaintiff's Title VII and § 1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1981');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1 Claims (Counts One, Two, and Three)

         Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Terminix violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and 42 U.S.C. § 1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1981');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1, by engaging in disparate treatment based on his race, retaliating in response to his complaints regarding this alleged treatment, creating a hostile work environment and wrongfully terminating him. With respect to the different claims, the Magistrate Judge recommends the Court grant Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment on the basis that Plaintiff has not established, either by direct evidence or under the McDonnell Douglas[7" name= "FN37" id="FN37">37] burden shifting scheme, a prima facie case of race discrimination. Further, the Magistrate Judge recommends finding that Plaintiff has not submitted sufficient evidence to demonstrate that the explanation provided by Defendant Terminix for its alleged treatment of Plaintiff was pretext, or otherwise provided evidence of a decision based on Plaintiff's membership in a protected class. The Magistrate Judge also recommends granting summary judgment to Defendants with respect to Plaintiff's allegations of a hostile work environment because under the Fourth Circuit's four factor approach to evaluate whether any alleged conduct was “severe or pervasive, ” Plaintiff cannot establish a genuine issue of material fact such that any claim based on a hostile work environment can survive the summary judgment stage. Plaintiff summarily objects to the dismissal of his Title VII claims.

         Title VII makes it unlawful for an employer to fail or refuse to hire or to discharge any individual, or otherwise to discriminate against an individual with respect to his or her compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges, of employment, because of such individual's race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2(a)(1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1). In order to establish a cause of action under Title VII, a plaintiff may either provide direct evidence or evidence sufficient to satisfy the burden-shifting scheme under McDonnell Douglas. Under the burden-shifting scheme announced in McDonnell Douglas, the three-step framework involved is that a plaintiff must first prove a prima facie case of discrimination by a preponderance of the evidence. Evans v. Tech. App. & Serv. Co., 80 F.3d 954, 959 (4th Cir. 1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1996). If successful, then the defendant employer must present a legitimate, non-discriminatory reason for its employment action. Id. If the employer meets this burden, the presumption of unlawful discrimination established by a plaintiff “drops out of the picture” and the burden shifts back to the employee to show the reason given by his or her employer was pretext for discrimination. Id. Ultimately, the plaintiff bears the burden of proving the employer intentionally discriminated against him or her. Id. Section 1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1981');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1 states, in relevant part, that “[a]ll persons . . . shall have the right . . . to make and enforce contracts . . . as is enjoyed by white citizens.” 42 U.S.C. § 1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1981');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1. The standards that apply to lawsuits filed under this statute are the same as those standards applied to Title VII claims, with the same precedent being used to evaluate either claim. Love-Lane v. Martin, 766');">355 F.3d 766, 786 (4th Cir. 2004) (explaining that the McDonnell Douglas framework, developed for Title VII, has been used to evaluate race discrimination under this statute). Thus the analysis is the same under both federal statutes.

         Plaintiff concedes that he does not have direct evidence of discrimination;[38] thus, the Magistrate Judge appropriately analyzed this case under the burden-shifting scheme. The Magistrate Judge first considered Plaintiff's evidence of a prima facie case of discrimination. Plaintiff's evidence includes his allegations that he was subjected to “disparate discipline” in that while he, as an African-American employee was terminated by Defendant Terminix for allegations of insubordination, other white employees remained employed despite “inappropriate behavior” during the work day. The Magistrate Judge determined that this claim was akin to wrongful termination because Plaintiff appears to argue that he was terminated for alleged inappropriate behavior while other employees were not terminated for their behavior. [ECF #2');">52, pp. 2');">52]. In his objections, Plaintiff argues that the R&R “ignores” his ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.