United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Charleston Division
ORDER AND OPINION
Richard Mark Gergel, United States District Court Judge.
the Court is the Report and Recommendation ("R &
R") of the Magistrate Judge. (Dkt. No. 52.) recommending
that the Court grant in part, deny in part Defendants'
Motion for Summary Judgment. (Dkt. No. 36.) For the reasons
set forth below, the Court adopts the R & R and grants in
part, denies in part Defendants' Motion for Summary
Penny Sambrano, brought the current action against Defendants
Palmetto Heights Management, LLC d/b/a Airport Inn, Archdale
Development, LLC, and Kamlesh Shah, as an individual,
alleging claims for sexual harassment and retaliation in
violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42
U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. Plaintiff was employed
as a sales representative clerk at the Clarion Inn &
Suites ("Clarion") in North Charleston. (Dkt. No.
36-2 at 50:18-19.) The Clarion is owned and operated by
Archdale Development, LLC ("Archdale"), a South
Carolina limited liability company owned by Defendant Kamlesh
Shah ("Shah"). Shah is the sole owner and member of
Defendant Palmetto Heights, LLC ("Palmetto
Heights"), which owns and operates a neighboring hotel
called the Airport Inn.
employed at the Clarion, Plaintiff alleges she was subjected
to ongoing sexual harassment. (Dkt. No. 1-1 at 6.) In her
deposition, Plaintiff testified that Shah pressured her to
wear short skirts and low-cut shirts to expose her breasts.
(Dkt. No. 36-2 at 80:14-15, 81:2-4, 82:19-83:2.) She
testified Shah made frequent comments regarding her breasts.
(Dkt. No. 36-2 at 87:23-88:7.) She testified that Shah made a
comment to her about "wet pussy" and "getting
head" (Dkt. No. 36-2 at 102:25-103:8) and told Plaintiff
that his two favorite things in life are "money and good
pussy". (Dkt. No. 36-2 at 89:13-19.) Shah also commented
that he liked "big asses" and once grabbed his
genitals in front of Plaintiff and stated "it's
large." (Dkt. No. 36-2 94:1-9, 109:11-22, 110:17-20.)
Plaintiff testified that Shah once commented that a woman is
nothing without a man behind her. (Dkt. No. 36-2 at 89:13-19,
91:21-92:2.) Plaintiff found Shah's conduct to be
unwelcome and offensive and came to expect his
"unethical" behavior on a daily basis. (Dkt. No.
36-2 at 84:4-6, 22-85:2, 111:2-16.) Plaintiff did not
formally report Shah's conduct because she feared Shah
would fire her. (Dkt. No. 36-2 at 87: 12-13.) Plaintiff also
testifies the Regional Manager, Tom Slawson ("Mr.
Slawson"), was generally aware of Shah's
inappropriate conduct. (Dkt. No. 36-2 at 119:25-120: 10,
was terminated from the Clarion in April 2014. After she was
terminated, she met with Tiffany Slawson ("Ms.
Slawson") and now other former Clarion/Airport Inn
employees to discuss their personal experiences with
Shah's sexual harassment and avenues for recourse for his
behavior. (Dkt. No. 36-2 at 113: 3-5, 115 1-23, 117: 1-19,
147:19-24.) Plaintiff filed a charge of discrimination with
the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
("EEOC") and the South Carolina Human Affairs
Commission ("SCHAC") around July 2, 2014 alleging
sex discrimination. (Dkt. No. 40-4.) The EEOC determined
there was reasonable cause to conclude that Plaintiff was
discriminated against because of sex (female/sexual
harassment), in violation of Title VII. (Dkt. No. 40-8.)
filed a lawsuit on December 27, 2017 (Dkt. No. 1-1) and
Defendants removed the case to the United States District
Court for the District of South Carolina on January 25,
2018. (Dkt. No. 1) Defendants filed a motion for
summary judgment seeking to dismiss all of Plaintiff s
claims. (Dkt. No. 36.) Plaintiff filed a motion in opposition
on April 24, 2019 (Dkt. No. 40) and Defendants filed their
reply on May 13, 2019. (Dkt. No. 45.) The Magistrate Judge
issued an R & R recommending the Court dismiss Plaintiffs
retaliation claim and claims against the individual
Defendant, Mr. Shah, but allow Plaintiffs sexual harassment
claim to go forward. (Dkt. No. 52.) Defendants filed timely
objections to the R & R on October 15, 2019. (Dkt. No.
prevail on a motion for summary judgment, the movant must
demonstrate that there is no genuine issue of any material
fact and that the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter
of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). The party seeking summary
judgment has the burden of identifying the portions of the
"pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, any
admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any,
which show there is no genuine issue as to any material fact
and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter
of law." Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S.
317, 322 (1986). The Court will construe all inferences and
ambiguities against the movant and in favor of the non-moving
party. US. v. Diebold, Inc., 369 U.S. 654, 655
(1962). The existence of a mere scintilla of evidence in
support of the non-moving party's position is
insufficient to withstand a motion for summary judgment.
Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 252
(1986). However, an issue of material fact is genuine if the
evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a
verdict in favor of the non-movant. Id. at 257.
the moving party has carried its burden under Rule 56(c), its
opponent must do more than simply show that there is some
metaphysical doubt as to the material facts."
Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp.,
475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986). "In the language of the Rule,
the nonmoving party must come forward with "specific
facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial."
Id. at 587. "Where the record taken as a whole
could not lead a rational trier of fact to find for the
non-moving party, there is no 'genuine issue for
trial.'" Id. quoting First Nat'l Bank of
Ariz. v. Cities Serv. Co., 391 U.S. 253, 289 (1968)).
Report and Recommendation
Magistrate Judge makes only a recommendation to this Court.
The recommendation has no presumptive weight, and the
responsibility for making a final determination remains with
this Court. See Mathews v. Weber, 423 U.S. 261, 270
- 71 (1976). This Court is charged with making a de novo
determination of those portions of the Report and
Recommendation to which specific objection is made.
Additionally, the Court may "accept, reject, or modify,
in whole or in part, the findings or recommendations made by
the magistrate judge." 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1). In
the absence of any specific objections, "a district
court need not conduct a de novo review, but instead must
only satisfy itself that there is no clear error on the face
of the record in order to accept the recommendation."
See Diamond v. Colonial Life & Accident Ins.
Co., 416 F.3d 310, 315 (4th Cir. 2005) (internal
quotation omitted). Defendants timely filed objections and
the R & R is reviewed de novo.