United States District Court, W.D. North Carolina, Asheville Division
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
Carleton Metcalf United States Magistrate Judge.
matter is before the Court on Defendants' Renewed Motion
for Summary Judgment (Doc. 26). The issues have been fully
briefed, and the matter is ripe for ruling. For the reasons
addressed below, Defendants' Renewed Motion for Summary
Judgment is granted.
initiated this employment discrimination action on September
15, 2017 in the Superior Court Division of the General Court
of Justice of Burke County, North Carolina. Defendants
removed the case to this Court, and the parties consented to
the jurisdiction of a United States Magistrate Judge.
See (Doc. 7).
11, 2018, Defendants filed their Motion for Summary Judgment
(Doc. 16) and Brief in Support (Doc. 17). Plaintiff
subsequently responded (Doc. 23), and Defendants replied
August 28, 2018, Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment
was denied without prejudice. See (Doc. 25).
September 11, 2018, Defendants filed the instant Renewed
Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 26) and a supporting brief
(Doc. 27). Plaintiff filed a memorandum in opposition (Doc.
28), and Defendants replied (Doc. 29).
November 20, 2018, the undersigned conducted a hearing on
Defendants' Motion. Plaintiff and her attorney, James B.
Hogan, appeared, as did counsel for Defendants, Michael S.
purpose of Defendants' Motion, the facts are viewed in
the light most favorable to Plaintiff. See Scott v.
Harris, 550 U.S. 372, 380 (2007).
details of the relationship between the two Defendants,
Weathersfield Management, LLC (formerly known as AccuForce
Staffing Services, LLC) and AccuForce HR Solutions, LLC, are
not entirely clear. At the hearing, Defendants' counsel
indicated that a single individual had owned several
companies which were later consolidated after bankruptcy
proceedings. Further clarification was not offered, and
defense counsel admitted that the companies' history was
“confusing.” See also Parsons Dep. (Doc.
28-1) 10-19. Nonetheless, Defendants appear to be closely
related, and Defendants concede that Plaintiff was employed
by one or both companies for purposes of her claims,
see Defs.' Mem. Supp. (Doc. 27). Consequently,
this Order will refer to both Defendants jointly as
“Defendants” or the “Company.”
operate as an employment agency, supplying employees to other
companies. Parsons Dep. (Doc. 28-1) at 14; Compl. (Doc. 2-1)
¶ 9. Defendants conduct business in Tennessee, North
Carolina, Virginia, and Kentucky. Parsons Dep. (Doc. 28-1)
Dep. at 20; Fleenor Dep. (Doc. 28-3) at 13. The Tennessee
region does the most business of any in the Company and is
also the home of the corporate offices. Parsons Dep. (Doc.
28-1) at 20; Parsons Aff. (Doc. 27-1) ¶ 3.
March 21, 2001, Plaintiff was hired as a Staffing Supervisor
in Defendants' office in Morganton, North Carolina, which
office is part of the Company's North Carolina region.
Compl. (Doc. 2-1) ¶¶ 11, 20; Baker Aff. (Doc. 28-9)
¶ 2. Initially, Plaintiff was hired on a part-time
basis, but by April 2, 2001, she was working full-time.
Parsons Dep. (Doc. 28-1) at 49-50; Baker Aff. (Doc. 28-9)
¶¶ 3, 4. When Plaintiff's status changed to
full-time, she was made a salaried employee. Parsons Dep.
(Doc. 28-1) at 52.
August of 2013, Defendants' owner passed away, and Dreama
Parsons (“Parsons”) assumed the role of COO, the
most senior position in the Company. Parsons Dep. (Doc. 28-1)
at 12, 21-22; Parsons Aff. (Doc. 27-1) ¶ 2.
point prior to 2014, Plaintiff became the Regional Manager
for the Company's North Carolina region. Baker Aff. (Doc.
28-9) ¶ 6; Parsons Aff. (Doc. 27-1) ¶ 6. The
Regional Manager position was one of the highest positions in
the Company. Parsons Aff. (Doc. 27-1) ¶ 6.
and 2015, the Company was struggling financially. Parsons
Aff. (Doc. 27-1) ¶ 8. The Company lost several major
customers, and the North Carolina region was a financial
drain on the Company. Parsons Aff. (Doc. 27-1) ¶ 8. In
both 2014 and 2015, the North Carolina region's losses
exceeded $100, 000. Parsons Aff. (Doc. 27-1) ¶ 7.
these problems, Parsons advised Plaintiff that the North
Carolina region had to improve its sales in order to continue
operations. Parsons Dep. (Doc. 28-1) at 59; Parsons Aff.
(Doc. 27-1) ¶ 8. Parsons explained to Plaintiff that
something had to happen to turn things around, or Parsons
would have to “make a decision.” Parsons Dep.
(Doc. 28-1) at 60. Possible closure of the North Carolina
offices was also discussed at managers' meetings. Parson
Dep. (Doc. 28-1) at 65.
point between mid-summer and October of 2015, Plaintiff was
named the Director of Risk Management for the Company, a
position that was created for her. Baker Aff. (Doc. 28-9)
¶ 8; Parsons Aff. (Doc. 27-1) ¶¶ 9, 15.
held the Director of Risk Management position and the North
Carolina Regional Manager position simultaneously, with no
change in salary, until October of 2015, at which time she
was removed from the Regional Manager position. Baker Aff.
(Doc. 28-9) ¶ 8; Compl. (Doc. 2-1) ¶ 25; Baker Dep.
(Doc. 27-2) at 87; Parsons Aff. (Doc. 27-1) ¶ 9.
North Carolina Regional Manager duties were assigned to Kim
Muncy (“Muncy”), who was a Regional Manager for
the Company in Tennessee. Parsons Aff. (Doc. 27-1) ¶ 10;
Baker Dep. (Doc. 29-1) at 87.
November of 2015, the Company's Chief Financial Officer
made it clear that something had to be done about the
financial issues the North Carolina region was creating for
the Company, and Parsons decided that a complete evaluation
of the future and viability of the ...