United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Spartanburg Division
TIMOTHY M. CAIN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Jimmy Stewart, Jr. (“Plaintiff”), filed this
action alleging race discrimination in violation of Title VII
of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, and 42 U.S.C.
§§ 1981 and 1983. (ECF No. 1). In accordance with
28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1) and Local Civil Rule 73.02,
D.S.C., this matter was referred to a magistrate judge for
pretrial handling. Before the court is the magistrate
judge's Report and Recommendation (“Report”)
(ECF No. 51), issued June 8, 2018, recommending that the
court grant defendant Gestamp South Carolina LLC's
(“Defendant”) motion for summary judgment (ECF
No. 31). On June 22, 2018, Plaintiff filed objections to the
Report. (ECF No. 52). On June 29, 2018, Defendant filed a
response to Plaintiff's objections. (ECF No. 54).
recommendations set forth in the Report have no presumptive
weight and the responsibility to make a final determination
in this matter remains with this court. See Mathews v.
Weber, 423 U.S. 261, 270-71 (1976). The 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).
However, 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 Cir. 1982). In the absence of a timely filed,
specific objection, the magistrate judge's conclusions
are reviewed only for clear error. See Diamond v.
Colonial Life & Accident Ins. Co., 416 F.3d 310, 315
(4th Cir. 2005).
magistrate judge summarized the facts of this action in his
Report (ECF No. 51 at 1- 10). Briefly, in the amended
complaint, Plaintiff, an African American male, alleges that
Defendant, the company that employed him from August 20,
2007, to February 19, 2015, discriminated against him based
on his race. (ECF No. 1). Over the course of his employment,
Plaintiff worked as a packer, line tech, CMM tech, and
quality auditor. (ECF No. 51 at 4-5).As a quality auditor, he
received performance based discipline on June 25, 2014;
September 15, 2014; November 18, 2014; and February 19, 2015.
Id. at 7-8. Defendant discharged Plaintiff upon
issuing his February 19, 2015 discipline. Id. at 8.
Plaintiff argues that race was a factor in his discharge due
to the fact that E.Y., a white employee, remained employed by
Defendant despite also receiving four disciplinary
actions. Id. Defendant argues that it
retained E.Y. because he had not received four disciplinary
actions within a 12-month period and that Defendant
consistently discharged employees receiving four disciplinary
actions within a 12-month period. Id. at 8-9.
Defendant argues that it applied its Corrective Counseling
and Discharge Policy so as to never allow an employee to
remain employed with the company if he or she received four
disciplines within 12 months. Id. Further, according
to Defendant, if an employee received three disciplines
within 12 months and received another discipline after the
12-month anniversary of receiving the earliest discipline,
his or her earliest discipline would roll off and he or she
would receive a repeat of the last discipline rather than a
discharge as long as the last infraction constituted an
offense that the company did not consider sufficiently
serious as to skip a step and proceed with termination.
Id. As noted above, Plaintiff seeks relief pursuant
to the Title VII and 42 U.S.C. § 1981. Id. at
judgment is appropriate if the moving party “shows that
there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the
[moving party] is entitled to judgment as a matter of
law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). A party may support or refute
that a material fact is not disputed by “citing to
particular parts of materials in the record” or by
“showing that the materials cited do not establish the
absence or presence of a genuine dispute, or that an adverse
party cannot produce admissible evidence to support the
fact.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1). Rule 56 mandates entry of
summary judgment “against a party who fails to make a
showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element
essential to that party's case.” Celotex Corp.
v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986).
deciding whether there is a genuine issue of material fact,
the court must construe all inferences and ambiguities
against the movant and in favor of the non-moving party.
See Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242,
255 (1986). However, “[o]nly disputes over facts that
might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law
will properly preclude the entry of summary judgment. Factual
disputes that are irrelevant or unnecessary will not be
counted.” Id. at 248.
moving party shoulders the initial burden of demonstrating to
the court that there is no genuine issue of material fact.
Once the moving party makes this showing, however, the
opposing party may not rest upon mere allegations or denials,
but rather must, by affidavits or other means permitted by
the Rule, set forth specific facts showing that there is a
genuine issue for trial. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c),
(e); Celotex Corp., 477 U.S. at 322.
this standard, the existence of a mere scintilla of evidence
in support of the plaintiff's position is insufficient to
withstand the summary judgment motion. Anderson, 477
U.S. at 252. Likewise, conclusory allegations or denials,
without more, are insufficient to preclude the granting of
the summary judgment motion. Id. at 248.
Report, the magistrate judge recommended that Defendant's
motion for summary judgment be granted. (ECF No. 51 at 17).
Assuming for the purposes of the Report that Plaintiff could
establish a prima facie case of race discrimination, the
magistrate judge found that Defendant articulated a
legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason for its termination of
Plaintiff's employment and that no reasonable trier of
fact could find that Plaintiff's race was the reason he
was terminated from employment. Id. Plaintiff
articulated two objections to the Report. (ECF No. 52).
Plaintiff alleges that the magistrate judge erred by finding
that Defendant showed a legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason
for Plaintiff's dismissal because Defendant's
12-month rolling practice was not stated in Defendant's
employee handbook, because employees are not notified of this
practice during employment, and because Defendant provides no
proof of where the practice is implemented into written
policy. (ECF No. 52 at 6).
this objection merely repeats Plaintiff's arguments from
his brief. As the magistrate judge found, Defendant
articulated a legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason for its
termination of Plaintiff: the fact that he had received four
disciplinary actions within a 12-month period while E.Y. did
not. And Plaintiff failed to meet his burden of showing by a