Cox v. Nucor Corporation
ORDER RULING ON 19 REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION, 7 Motion to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim, filed by Nucor Corporation. It is ordered that the plaintiff's objections are overruled, the R & R is adopted, and Defendant's motion to dismiss is granted. Signed by Honorable Patrick Michael Duffy on 08/22/2017. (egra, )
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF SOUTH CAROLINA
Nucor Corporation d/b/a Nucor Steel,
C.A. No.: 2:16-cv-3073-PMD
This matter is before the Court on Plaintiff William Cox’s objections to United States
Magistrate Judge Mary Gordon Baker’s report and recommendation (“R & R”) (ECF Nos. 23 &
19). In her R & R, the Magistrate Judge recommends granting Defendant Nucor Corporation’s
motion to dismiss. For the reasons stated herein, the Court overrules Plaintiff’s objections, adopts
the R & R, and grants Defendant’s motion to dismiss.
This employment discrimination action arises out of Plaintiff’s claim that Defendant failed
to accommodate his alleged disability, as well as Plaintiff’s claim that Defendant created a hostile
STANDARD OF REVIEW
The Magistrate Judge makes only a recommendation to this Court. The R & R has no
presumptive weight, and the responsibility for making a final determination remains with the
Court. Mathews v. Weber, 423 U.S. 261, 270–71 (1976). Parties may make written objections to
the R & R within fourteen days after being served with a copy of it. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1). This
Court must conduct a de novo review of any portion of the R & R to which a specific objection is
made, and it may accept, reject, or modify the Magistrate Judge’s findings and recommendations
in whole or in part. Id. Additionally, the Court may receive more evidence or recommit the matter
to the Magistrate Judge with instructions. Id. A party’s failure to object is taken as the party’s
agreement with the Magistrate Judge’s conclusions. See Thomas v. Arn, 474 U.S. 140 (1985).
Absent a timely, specific objection—or as to those portions of the R & R to which no specific
objection is made—this Court “must ‘only satisfy itself that there is no clear error on the face of
the record in order to accept the recommendation.’” Diamond v. Colonial Life & Accident Ins.
Co., 416 F.3d 310, 315 (4th Cir. 2005) (quoting Fed. R. Civ. P. 72 advisory committee’s note).
The bulk of Plaintiff’s “objections” to the R & R are devoted to a recitation of the standards
for a pleading and for a motion to dismiss, as well as a generalized discussion of the ADA and its
requirements. Those objections do not address the Magistrate Judge’s R & R and are neither
specific nor particularized to that R & R. Therefore, they are overruled.
Plaintiff’s first true objection relates to the Magistrate Judge’s analysis of his failure to
accommodate claim. The Magistrate Judge recommends that the Court dismiss Plaintiff’s failure
to accommodate claim because he failed to exhaust his administrative remedies. The Magistrate
Judge’s recommendation is based on Plaintiff’s failure to include that claim in the charge he filed
with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. See Sydnor v. Fairfax Cty., 681 F.3d 591,
593 (4th Cir. 2012) (noting that the Americans with Disabilities Act requires a plaintiff to exhaust
his administrative remedies for a claim by filing a charge with the EEOC before bringing suit in
Plaintiff argues that the charge he filed with the EEOC is not required to set forth all of his
claims. Not so. As noted by the Magistrate Judge, the “‘scope of the plaintiff’s right to file a
federal lawsuit is determined by the charge’s contents.’” Id. (quoting Jones v. Calvert Grp., 551
F.3d 297, 300 (4th Cir. 2009)). “‘[A] plaintiff fails to exhaust his administrative remedies where
. . . his administrative charges reference different . . . discriminatory conduct than the central factual
allegations in his formal suit.’” Id. (quoting Chacko v. Patuxent Inst., 429 F.3d 505, 406 (4th Cir.
2005)). Moreover, courts “are not at liberty to read into administrative charges allegations they
do not contain.” Balas v. Huntington Ingalls Indus., 711 F.3d 401, 408 (4th Cir. 2013). Thus,
Plaintiff’s first objection is overruled.
Next, Plaintiff claims that his charge does in fact raise his failure to accommodate claim.
The Court disagrees.
Plaintiff’s EEOC charge cannot be read to be raising a failure to
accommodate claim. In fact, the charge states that Plaintiff received a reasonable accommodation.
Accordingly, that objection is also overruled.
Finally, Plaintiff objects to the Magistrate Judge’s recommendation that the Court also
dismiss his hostile work environment claim. As to this claim, the Magistrate Judge concluded that
Plaintiff failed to plead sufficient facts to state a claim. Plaintiff argues that his complaint contains
sufficient facts to overcome Defendant’s motion to dismiss. Specifically, Plaintiff states that
Defendant required him to work with his harassers on a daily basis, that Defendant’s employees
were aware of Plaintiff’s disability and harassed him in order to exacerbate his condition, and that
Defendant refused to transfer Plaintiff in an effort to force Plaintiff to quit.
To state a hostile work environment claim under the ADA, Plaintiff must show that:
(1) he is a qualified individual with a disability; (2) he was subjected to unwelcome
harassment; (3) the harassment was based on his disability; (4) the harassment was
sufficiently severe or pervasive to alter a term, condition, or privilege of
employment; and (5) some factual basis exists to impute liability for the harassment
to the employer.
Fox v. Gen. Motors Corp., 247 F.3d 169, 177 (4th Cir. 2001). It is the severe or pervasive element
that dooms Plaintiff’s case. That element has both a subjective and an objective component, and
the objective component requires Plaintiff to “demonstrate that the conduct was such that a
reasonable person in the plaintiff’s position would have found the environment objectively hostile
or abusive.” E.E.O.C. v. Sunbelt Rentals, Inc., 521 F.3d 306, 315 (4th Cir. 2008). As noted by the
Magistrate Judge, Plaintiff’s allegations lack the specificity necessary for the Court to assess the
severity of Defendant’s alleged conduct. Plaintiff repeatedly uses the word harassment in his
complaint without specifying what that harassment entailed.
Such general allegations of
harassment are insufficient to withstand a motion to dismiss a hostile work environment claim.
See Young v. Giant Food Stores, LLC, 108 F. Supp. 3d 301, 312 (D. Md. 2015). Thus, Plaintiff’s
objection to the Magistrate Judge’s analysis of his hostile work environment claim is overruled.
For the reasons stated herein, Plaintiff’s objections are OVERRULED, the R & R is
ADOPTED, and Defendant’s motion to dismiss is GRANTED.
AND IT IS SO ORDERED.
August 22, 2017
Charleston, South Carolina
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