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Kelly v. QVC

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

July 6, 2018

Marcus D. Kelly, Plaintiff,
QVC, Defendant.


          R. Bryan Harwell United States District Judge

         This matter is before the Court for consideration of Plaintiff's objections to the Report and Recommendation (“R & R”) of United States Magistrate Judge Kaymani D. West.[1] See ECF Nos. 37, 39, & 43. The Magistrate Judge recommends that the Court grant Defendant's motion to dismiss but also consider giving Plaintiff leave to file an amended complaint as to several claims. R & R at p. 19.

         Standard of Review

         The Magistrate Judge makes only a recommendation to the Court. The Magistrate Judge's recommendation has no presumptive weight, and the responsibility to make a final determination remains with the Court. Mathews v. Weber, 423 U.S. 261, 270-71 (1976). The Court must conduct a de novo review of those portions of the R & R to which specific objections are made, and it 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); Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b).

         The Court must engage in 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 [Judge]'s proposed findings and recommendations.” Orpiano v. Johnson, 687 F.2d 44, 47 (4th Cir. 1982). In the absence of specific objections to the R & R, the Court reviews only for clear error, Diamond v. Colonial Life & Acc. Ins. Co., 416 F.3d 310, 315 (4th Cir. 2005), and the Court need not give any explanation for adopting the Magistrate Judge's recommendation. Camby v. Davis, 718 F.2d 198, 199-200 (4th Cir. 1983).


         Plaintiff Marcus D. Kelly, proceeding pro se, filed this employment action against his former employer, QVC (“Defendant”), [3] alleging discriminatory retaliation and termination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII”), the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (“ADEA”), and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (“ADA”).[4] See ECF No. 1-2. Plaintiff alleges Defendant wrongfully terminated him based upon a “falsified” background check obtained after a coworker secured a restraining order against him. Defendant filed a motion to dismiss pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) asserting Plaintiff failed to exhaust administrative remedies regarding some claims and fails to state a claim as to the remaining claims. See ECF No. 26. The Magistrate Judge recommends granting Defendant's motion but notes the Court may find it appropriate to permit Plaintiff to file an amended complaint regarding his administratively exhausted claims. See R & R at p. 19. Plaintiff has filed objections to the R & R, and Defendant has responded to Plaintiff's objections. See ECF Nos. 39, 41, 43, & 44.

         Initially, the Court notes Plaintiff does not specifically object to the Magistrate Judge's construction of his particular Title VII, ADA, and ADEA claims. The Court reiterates that absent a specific objection, it need only review the R & R for clear error and need not explain its reason for adopting a proposed finding. See Diamond, 416 F.3d at 315; Camby, 718 F.2d at 199-200. The Court discerns no clear error in the Magistrate Judge's interpretation of Plaintiff's claims and will address them below.

         I. Unexhausted Claims

         The Magistrate Judge recommends dismissing Plaintiff's claims of (a) retaliation under Title VII, the ADA, and the ADEA, (b) national origin and religion discrimination under Title VII, and (c) disability discrimination under the ADA because he failed to exhaust his administrative remedies as to these claims.[5] See R & R at pp. 8-12, 19. Plaintiff does not appear to specifically object to the Magistrate Judge's conclusion that these claims were not administratively exhausted, [6] but in any event, the Court agrees with the Magistrate Judge's conclusion. The Charge of Discrimination that Plaintiff filed with the South Carolina Human Affairs Commission[7] indicated he was claiming discrimination based on race, color, sex, and age-not retaliation, national origin, religion, or disability. See ECF No. 26-1 at p. 2. Thus, Plaintiff cannot now pursue a claim he did not present in his Charge of Discrimination. See Balas, 711 F.3d at 408 (“In determining what claims a plaintiff properly alleged before the EEOC, we may look only to the charge filed with that agency.”); Jones, 551 F.3d at 300 (“The scope of the plaintiff's right to file a federal lawsuit is determined by the charge's contents.”); El-Reedy, 273 F.Supp.3d at 602 (“[I]n determining the scope of Plaintiff's exhausted claims, the Court is bound by the scope of Plaintiff's claims as are set forth in her administrative charge, and only those discrimination claims set forth in the administrative charge, reasonably related thereto, or which were developed by a reasonable investigation of the claims set forth in the original charge may be maintained in a subsequent [] lawsuit.”). Accordingly, the Court will dismiss with prejudice Plaintiff's claims of retaliation and discrimination based on national origin, religion, and disability because he did not exhaust his administrative remedies as to these claims.[8]

         II. Exhausted Claims

         The Magistrate Judge recommends dismissing Plaintiff's remaining claims-(a) Title VII race, color, and gender/sex discrimination claims and (b) ADEA discrimination claims-pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim. See R & R at pp. 12-19. Plaintiff objects to this recommendation. See ECF No. 39 at pp. 1, 3-4.

         “To survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Elliott v. Am. States Ins. Co., 883 F.3d 384, 395 (4th Cir. 2018) (quoting Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009), and Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). “[A] plaintiff must provide sufficient detail to show that he has a more-than-conceivable chance of success on the merits.” Upstate Forever v. Kinder Morgan Energy Partners, L.P., 887 F.3d 637, 645 (4th Cir. 2018) (alterations omitted).

         Title VII prohibits an employer from terminating an employee on the basis of, inter alia, race, color, and sex, see 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2(a)(1), and the ADEA prohibits such termination on the basis of age. See 29 U.S.C. § 623(a)(1). “[A]lthough the plaintiff need not plead facts that constitute a prima facie case under the framework of McDonnell Douglas Corp. v. Green, 411 U.S. 792 (1973), in order to survive a motion to dismiss, Swierkiewicz v. Sorema N.A., 534 U.S. 506, 510-15 (2002), a civil rights plaintiff retains the burden of alleging facts sufficient to state a claim entitling her to relief.” Harman v. Unisys Corp., 356 Fed.Appx. 638, 640 (4th Cir. 2009); see Goode v. Cent. Virginia Legal Aid Soc'y, Inc., 807 F.3d 619, 627 (4th Cir. 2015) (considering ...

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