United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Spartanburg Division
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION OF MAGISTRATE
Jacquelyn D. Austin United States Magistrate Judge
matter is before the Court on Defendant's motion for
summary judgment. [Doc. 44.] Plaintiff alleges race
discrimination and retaliation claims pursuant to Title VII
of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended (“Title
VII”). [Doc. 1.] Pursuant to the provisions of 28
U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(A) and Local Civil Rule
73.02(B)(2)(g), D.S.C., all pretrial matters in employment
discrimination cases are referred to a United States
Magistrate Judge for consideration.
proceeding pro se, filed this action on August 31, 2017.
[Doc. 1.] On June 25, 2018, Defendant filed a motion for
summary judgment. [Doc. 44.] Plaintiff filed a response in
opposition on July 24, 2018 [Doc. 53], and Defendant filed a
reply on July 31, 2018 [Doc. 55]. Accordingly, the motion for
summary judgment is ripe for review.
hired Plaintiff to work as a Technical Support Technician in
the IT department July 2013. [Doc. 44-2 at 2-3.]
Plaintiff's direct supervisor was Wyatt Shennan
(“Shennan”), Client Services Manager, and
Shennan's supervisor was Kim Danner
(“Danner”), Director of Information Technology.
[Id. at 3, 4; Doc. 55-2 ¶ 1.] On June 28, 2014,
Plaintiff was promoted to work in the Communications/911
department. [Docs. 44-2 at 3; 55-2 ¶ 2.] Danner; Mike
Flynn (“Flynn”), Director of Spartanburg County
Communications/911; and Kevin White (“White”), IT
Infrastructure Manager, selected Plaintiff for the position
in the Communications/911 department. [Doc. 44-2 at 4.]
Although Plaintiff's physical workplace changed, he never
relinquished responsibilities in the IT department. [Doc.
55-2 ¶ 2; see Doc. 44-2 at 4, 10.] After
Plaintiff was promoted to the Communications/911 department,
Flynn was his director, and he could attend training with
White. [Doc. 44-2 at 4.]
who is African American, alleges that he was discriminated
against on October 2, 2014, when he was told he was not
supposed to disable user accounts but white males were
allowed to disable accounts. [Docs. 1-1 at 3; 53 at 3 (citing
Doc. 53-1 at 1-4).] On May 8, 2015, he was not allowed to
order cell phones even though his white, male co-worker was
allowed to order cell phones without any cell phone
experience. [Docs. 1 at 5, 6; 53 at 2 (citing Doc. 53-1 at
18, 20, 30-31).] Plaintiff contends that he was threatened
with disciplinary action on December 22, 2015, for suggesting
to a white male with 30 years of technology experience that
he use new technology. [Docs. 1 at 5, 7; 53 at 1 (citing Doc.
53-1 at 11-14).]
February 10, 2016, Plaintiff completed an intake
questionnaire with the United States Equal Employment
Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”), asserting that
Defendant had discriminated against him on the basis of race.
[Docs. 1 at 5; 1-1 at 3-6.] Plaintiff contends that he was
subsequently retaliated against when his name was removed
from an electronic mail distribution list that received help
desk tickets from 911 [Doc. 53 at 3 (citing Doc. 53-1 at 8)],
he was moved to a new office in March 2016 [Docs. 1 at 5, 7;
53 at 1], he was not invited to a recognition meeting [Doc.
53 at 2 (citing Doc. 53-1 at 15-16)], his yearly evaluation
was changed [Docs. 1 at 5, 7; 53 at 3 (citing Doc. 53-1 at
63-64)], and he was denied training [Doc. 53 at 2 (citing
Doc. 53-1 at 38-41)]. Further, Plaintiff was told to move on
and that he was trying to set up another employee when he
reported the employee for tampering with the network.
[Id. at 3 (citing Doc. 53-1 at 54-57).] The EEOC
issued a Dismissal and Notice of Rights on June 12, 2017
[Doc. 1-1 at 1; see Id. at 2], and Plaintiff filed
this action on August 31, 2017, asserting race discrimination
and retaliation in violation of Title VII [Doc.
Construction of Pro Se Complaint
Plaintiff brought this action pro se, which requires the
Court to liberally construe his pleadings. Estelle,
429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976); Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S.
519, 520 (1972) (per curiam); Loe v. Armistead, 582
F.2d 1291, 1295 (4th Cir. 1978); Gordon v. Leeke,
574 F.2d 1147, 1151 (4th Cir. 1978). Pro se pleadings are
held to a less stringent standard than those drafted by
attorneys. Haines, 404 U.S. at 520. Even under this
less stringent standard, however, a pro se complaint is still
subject to summary dismissal. Id. at 520-21. The
mandated liberal construction means that only if the court
can reasonably read the pleadings to state a valid claim on
which the complainant could prevail, it should do so.
Barnett v. Hargett, 174 F.3d 1128, 1133 (10th Cir.
1999). A court may not construct the complainant's legal
arguments for him. Small v. Endicott, 998 F.2d 411,
417-18 (7th Cir. 1993). Nor should a court “conjure up
questions never squarely presented.” Beaudett v.
City of Hampton, 775 F.2d 1274, 1278 (4th Cir. 1985).
of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure states, as to a party
who has moved for summary judgment:
The court shall grant summary judgment if the movant shows
that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and
the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.
Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a). A fact is “material” if
proof of its existence or non-existence would affect
disposition of the case under applicable law. Anderson v.
Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). An issue
of material fact is “genuine” if the evidence
offered is such that a reasonable jury might return a verdict
for the non-movant. Id. at 257. When determining
whether a genuine issue has been raised, the court must
construe all inferences and ...