United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Charleston Division
David M. Kunda, Plaintiff,
Honeywell International, Inc., Defendant.
Honorable Bruce Howe Hendricks, United States District Judge.
matter is before the Court upon Plaintiff David M.
Kunda's (“Plaintiff” or “Kunda”)
complaint against Defendant Honeywell International, Inc.
(“Defendant” or “Honeywell”),
alleging racial discrimination in violation of Title VII of
the Civil Rights Act of 1964. On December 28, 2018, Defendant
filed a motion for summary judgment, to which Plaintiff
accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(A) and (B) and
Local Civil Rule 73.02(B)(2)(g), D.S.C., United States
Magistrate Judge Mary Gordon Baker issued a Report and
Recommendation (“Report”) on February 27, 2019,
outlining the issues and recommending that the Court grant
Defendant's motion for summary judgment. Plaintiff filed
written objections to the Report, but for the reasons set
forth below, the Court finds Plaintiff's objections
without merit, and the Court adopts the Magistrate
Judge's Report in full and grants Defendant's motion
for summary judgment.
The Magistrate Judge's Report
Magistrate Judge makes only a recommendation to the Court.
The recommendation has no presumptive weight, and the
responsibility to make a final determination remains with the
Court. Mathews v. Weber, 423 U.S. 261 (1976). The
Court is charged with making a de novo determination
only of those portions of the Report to which specific
objections are made, and the Court may accept, reject, or
modify, in whole or in part, the recommendation of the
Magistrate Judge, or recommit the matter to the Magistrate
Judge with instructions. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1).
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56
shall grant summary judgment if a party shows that there is
no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the party is
entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a).
The judge is not to weigh the evidence, but rather to
determine if there is a genuine issue of fact. Anderson
v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 249 (1986). If no
material factual disputes remain, then summary judgment
should be granted against a party who fails to make a showing
sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential
to that party's case, and on which the party bears the
burden of proof. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S.
317, 323 (1986). All evidence should be viewed in the light
most favorable to the non-moving party. See Perini Corp.
v. Perini Constr., Inc., 915 F.2d 121, 123-24 (4th Cir.
Report, the Magistrate Judge first explained Plaintiff's
employment history and the alleged employment infractions.
Next, the Magistrate Judge outlined the proper way to analyze
Plaintiff's employment discrimination claims. As the
Magistrate Judge explained, a Plaintiff may establish a
discrimination claim either by direct evidence or pursuant to
the burden-shifting scheme set forth in McDonnell Douglas
Corp. v. Green, 411 U.S. 792 (1973). Direct evidence of
discrimination is “evidence of conduct or statements
that both reflect directly on the alleged discriminatory
attitude and that bear directly on the contested employment
decision.” Cassity v. Green, 749 F.Supp.2d
380, 402 (D.S.C. 2010) (citing Taylor v. Va. Union.
Univ., 193 F.3d 219, 232 (4th Cir. 1999) (en
banc), abrogated on other grounds, Desert Palace,
Inc. v. Costa, 539 U.S. 90 (2003)). In the absence of
direct evidence of discrimination, a plaintiff may establish
a claim using the McDonnell Douglas burden-shifting
scheme, which requires a plaintiff to first demonstrate a
prima facie case of discrimination. If a plaintiff succeeds
in establishing a prima facie case, then the burden shifts to
the defendant to articulate some legitimate,
nondiscriminatory reason for the adverse employment action.
Reeves v. Sanderson Plumbing Prods., Inc., 530 U.S.
133, 142 (2000); see also Hux v. City of Newport
News, 451 F.3d 311, 314-15 (4th Cir. 2006). If the
defendant does so, then the ultimate burden falls on the
plaintiff to establish “that the legitimate reasons
offered by the defendant were not its reasons, but were a
pretext for discrimination.” Reeves, 530 U.S.
at 142. “Although intermediate evidentiary burdens
shift back and forth under this framework, ‘[t]he
ultimate burden of persuading the trier of fact that the
defendant intentionally discriminated against the plaintiff
remains at all times with the plaintiff.'”
Id. (quoting Community Affairs v. Burdine,
450 U.S. 248, 252-53 (1981)).
the Magistrate Judge noted that Defendant Honeywell does not
dispute that Plaintiff is a member of a protected class or
that he suffered an adverse employment action. Accordingly,
the Magistrate Judge next considered whether Plaintiff showed
that he was satisfactorily performing his job duties and
meeting his employer's legitimate expectations. The
Magistrate Judge outlined the evidence related to complaints
that Defendant received about Plaintiff's alleged
violations of company policy, and the Magistrate Judge also
considered Plaintiff's adamant denial of the allegations
against him. However, because Plaintiff offered nothing more
than conclusory assertions to dispute the allegations and the
evidence offered by Defendant, the Magistrate Judge found
that “there is no evidence from which a jury could
conclude that Defendant did not honestly believe Plaintiff
had violated the Company's books and records
policy.” (ECF No. 27 at 12 (citation omitted).)
Accordingly, the Magistrate Judge found that Plaintiff failed
to show that he was performing his job duties at a level that
met his employer's legitimate expectations at the time of
the adverse employment action.
objections to the Magistrate Judge's Report, Plaintiff
asserts that he has provided sufficient evidence to create a
genuine issue of material fact as to whether he was meeting
his employer's job expectations, and Plaintiff again
points to the fact that he received satisfactory performance
reviews and promotions. Importantly, however, nowhere does
Plaintiff point to any evidence that creates a genuine issue
of material fact as to Defendant's belief that Plaintiff
violated the company's books and records policies.
Plaintiff summarily asserts that “[t]he fact that
Defendant chose [to] pursue allegations from an unknown
source and unilaterally determined the Plaintiff (an employee
with a history of exemplary performance) was
“lying” is certainly evidence of bad
faith.” (ECF No. 28 at 3.) However, the Court is not
convinced by Plaintiff's argument and finds this
objection wholly without merit.
the Magistrate Judge determined that even if Plaintiff could
create a genuine issue of material fact as to his job
performance, he still failed to produce evidence that other
employees outside of his protected class were retained under
objects to this conclusion and asserts that “Plaintiff
has set forth multiple instances wherein Caucasian employees
were treated more favorably, ” and asserts that
Caucasian employees were mentored more than he was and were
not written up for using terms like “stupid” or
“idiot.” The Magistrate Judge considered
Plaintiff's allegation that white employees were treated
more favorably but found that there was no evidence
indicating that white employees were retained under
circumstances similar to those surrounding Plaintiff's
termination. As the Magistrate Judge noted, Plaintiff even
testified at his deposition that he was not aware of any
other employees who were alleged to have violated the
company's books and records policy and were more
favorably treated. After review, the Court agrees ...