United States District Court, W.D. North Carolina, Charlotte Division
C. Mullen United States District Judge.
MATTER is before the Court on Defendant's Motion for
Summary Judgement (Doc. No. 12), Plaintiff's Response in
Opposition to the Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. No. 17),
and Defendant's Reply to the Response to the Motion for
Summary Judgment (Doc. No. 21). The parties' motions are
ripe for disposition.
Defendant Family Innovations, LLC is a provider of services
for individuals dealing with substance abuse and mental
health issues. (Doc. No. 13 at 1). It is owned by Willie Gray
and Linda Olige. Id. Mr. Gray is the Operations
Director and Ms. Olige is the Executive Director.
Id. The third member of the senior management team
is Kim Olige, Ms. Olige's husband. Id.
Adams was hired by Family Innovations on July 1, 2014 as a
probationary employee with a six-month probationary period.
(Doc. No. 13 at 2). She was hired as a Program Coordinator
and several weeks later became the Assertive Community
Treatment Team Leader (“ACTT”). Id.
November 2014 Family Innovations faced a financial crises; a
consequence of which the agency only paid its employees $1000
each for that month's work. Id. So, Adams filed
an unpaid wage claim with the North Carolina Department of
Labor (“NCDOL”) on December 30, 2014. (Doc. No.
18 at 2). Defendant was notified of the complaint on December
31. 2014. Id. Defendant has paid the full wages
requested in the claim. Id.
December 29, 2014, the senior management met and decided to
terminate the probationary employment of Plaintiff Adams.
(Doc. No. 13 at 3). Because of the upcoming holiday weekend,
the agency did not open again until January 5, 2015.
Id. On the morning of January 5, 2015, Adams
received her termination letter. Id. She packed up
her belongings and left the premises. Id.
commenced this action on February 18, 2016. She has three
claims for relief: sexual harassment under Title VII;
violation of North Carolina's Retaliatory Employment
Discrimination Act; and wrongful discharge. (Compl. at 4-6).
Defendant filed its motion for summary judgment February 28,
12(c) motion for judgment on the pleadings is subject to the
same standards as a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss for
failure to state a claim. Portales Place Prop., LLC v.
Guess, No. 3:08CV143, 2009 WL 112847, at *1 (W.D. N.C.
Jan. 15, 2009) (citing Burbach Broadcasting Co.
v. Elins Radio Corp., 278 F.3d 401, 405-06 (4th Cir.
2002)). When faced with a motion to dismiss under Rule
12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, the Court
must accept as true all well-pleaded allegations and view the
complaint in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party.
Mylan Labs, Inc. v. Matkari, 7 F.3d 1130, 1134 (4th
Cir. 1993). The Court “assume[s] the veracity”
of these factual allegations, and “determine[s] whether
they plausibly give rise to an entitlement to relief.”
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 679 (2009). Thus, a
“complaint may proceed even if it strikes a savvy judge
that actual proof of [the facts alleged] is improbable, and
that a recovery is very remote and unlikely.” Bell
Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 556 (2007)
(internal quotation marks and citation omitted). However, the
Court “need not accept as true unwarranted inferences,
unreasonable conclusions, or arguments.” Eastern
Shore Mkts., Inc. v. J.D. Assocs. LLP, 213 F.3d 175, 180
(4th Cir. 2000).
Court will 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 dispute is genuine “if the
evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a
verdict for the nonmoving party.” Anderson v.
Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986).
“The mere existence of a scintilla of evidence”
in support of the non-movant's position is not sufficient
to establish a genuine dispute. Id. at 252. A
material fact affects the outcome of the suit under the
applicable substantive law. See Id. at 248. When
determining whether a dispute is genuine or a fact is
material, courts are required to view the facts and draw
reasonable inferences in the light most favorable to the
party opposing the summary judgment motion. Scott v.
Harris, 550 U.S. 372, 378 (2007). Unsupported
speculation, however, is insufficient to defeat a motion for
summary judgment. Evans v. Techs. Applications &
Serv. Co., 80 F.3d 954, 960 (4th Cir. 1996).
Claim One: Title VII Sexual Harassment
“[W]hen the harasser is a supervisor, the employer is
presumptively liable under the doctrine of respondeat
superior, unless the Faragher-Ellerth defense
applies.” Dulaney v. Packaging Corp. of
America, 673 F.3d 323, 330 n.7 (4th Cir. 2012) (citing
Whitten v. Fred's, inc., 601 F.3d 231, 243
(4th Cir. 2010)). This affirmative defense may
only be raised when no tangible employment action is taken.
Burlington Industries, Inc. v. Ellerth, 524 U.S.
742, 765 (1998). The Faragher-Ellerth doctrine
provides a defense to a defending employer comprising two
elements “(a) that the employer exercised reasonable
care to prevent and correct promptly any sexually harassing