United States District Court, W.D. North Carolina, Statesville Division
KENNETH D. BELL UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
MATTER is before the Court on Defendant GKN
Driveline Newton, LLC's (“GKN”) Motion for
Summary Judgment (Doc. No. 33), which Plaintiff Dominic
Betourney (“Betourney”) opposes. The Court has
carefully reviewed the motion and considered the parties'
briefs and exhibits. For the reasons discussed below, the
Court will GRANT the motion and enter
Summary Judgment in favor of GKN.
judgment must be granted “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 factual dispute is considered 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).
“A fact is material if it might affect the outcome of
the suit under the governing law.” Vannoy v.
Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, 827 F.3d 296, 300 (4th
Cir. 2016) (quoting Libertarian Party of Va. v.
Judd, 718 F.3d 308, 313 (4th Cir. 2013)).
party seeking summary judgment bears the initial burden of
demonstrating the absence of a genuine issue of material fact
through citations to the pleadings, depositions, answers to
interrogatories, admissions or affidavits in the record.
See Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323
(1986); Bouchat v. Baltimore Ravens Football Club,
Inc., 346 F.3d 514, 522 (4th Cir.
2003). “The burden on the moving party
may be discharged by ‘showing' ... an absence of
evidence to support the nonmoving party's case.”
Celotex, 477 U.S. at 325. Once this initial burden
is met, the burden shifts to the nonmoving party. The
nonmoving party “must set forth specific facts showing
that there is a genuine issue for trial, ” Id.
at 322 n.3. The nonmoving party may not rely upon mere
allegations or denials of allegations in his pleadings to
defeat a motion for summary judgment. Id. at 324.
ruling on a summary judgment motion, a court must view the
evidence and any inferences from the evidence in the light
most favorable to the nonmoving party. Tolan v.
Cotton, 572 U.S. 650, 657 (2014); see also
Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255. “Summary judgment
cannot be granted merely because the court believes that the
movant will prevail if the action is tried on the
merits.” Jacobs v. N.C. Admin. Office of the
Courts, 780 F.3d 562, 568-69 (4th Cir. 2015) (quoting
10A Charles Alan Wright & Arthur R. Miller et al.,
Federal Practice & Procedure § 2728 (3d ed.1998)).
“The court therefore cannot weigh the evidence or make
credibility determinations.” Id. at 569
(citing Mercantile Peninsula Bank v. French (In
re French), 499 F.3d 345, 352 (4th Cir. 2007)).
“[w]here the record taken as a whole could not lead a
rational trier of fact to find for the nonmoving party, there
is no genuine issue for trial.” Ricci v.
DeStefano, 557 U.S. 557, 586 (2009) (internal citations
omitted). “Only disputes over facts that might affect
the outcome of the suit under the governing law will properly
preclude the entry of summary judgment. Factual disputes that
are irrelevant or unnecessary will not be counted.”
Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248. Also, the mere argued
existence of a factual dispute does not defeat an otherwise
properly supported motion. Id. If the evidence is
merely colorable, or is not significantly probative, summary
judgment is appropriate. Id. at 249-50.
end, the question posed by a summary judgment motion is
whether the evidence as applied to the governing legal rules
“is so one-sided that one party must prevail as a
matter of law.” Id. at 252.
AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
a Newton, North Carolina based company that develops, builds,
and supplies automotive driveline systems and
solutions. Mr. Betourney is currently employed as a
machine operator in GKN's Lap/Test department and has
been so employed since June 2016 (after a few months of
working at GKN as an employee of a temporary placement
alleges that on June 21, 2016 a “tall muscular
Caucasian male with a beard who worked for maintenance”
followed him around while he was on his break. When he
returned to his worksite, he allegedly saw two individuals,
one of whom he knew as “Mr. Bob” or “John,
” “acting very suspicious” near the machine
where he worked. Plaintiff then noticed a man he referred to
as “Mr. Thomas” close the lid on his lunch bag.
He alleges “Mr. Thomas” walked away when
Plaintiff returned to his machine. Plaintiff confirmed
nothing was stolen and then emptied his lunch bag in the
trash. Plaintiff allegedly later saw “Mr. Thomas”
and “Mr. Bob” or “John” talking
next day, Betourney gave a four-page, handwritten written
report regarding this incident to Tina Lineberger in
GKN's Human Resources (“HR”) department. In
this report, he does not claim that the alleged conduct was
the result of discrimination or harassment based on his race
or religion or a disability, nor did Plaintiff tell Ms.
Lineberger that he felt he was being discriminated against or
harassed based upon his race or religion or a disability. GKN
conducted an investigation into Plaintiff's allegations
but was unable to clearly identify the alleged perpetrators
or any witnesses to the incident. On August 4, 2016, Ms.
Lineberger by email asked Betourney's supervisor Larry
Johnson to inform Betourney that she had completed the
investigation and found nothing to support his claim. While
Betourney was (and remains) unsatisfied with both how the
investigation was handled and its conclusion, he did not
raise any issues of racial, religious, or disability-based
discrimination or harassment during the Company's
investigation or when he was told that GKN did not intend to
take any further action.
April 2017, GKN terminated Betourney because he had allegedly
accumulated too many “points” due to excessive
absences. Betourney disputed the total allocation of points,
claiming that he received points for days off that should
have been counted as vacation time. GKN was unable to confirm
that the termination based on the attendance record was
justified so Defendant decided to rehire Betourney one week
later. Betourney did not raise any concerns of unlawful
discrimination, harassment, or retaliation at the time of
this one-week termination.
September 7, 2017, more than a year after his June 2016
complaint to HR, Betourney filed a charge with the EEOC. In
his charge, Betourney alleged that he complained to HR of an
incident of “harassment and discrimination” in
June 2016 and that HR stated that they investigated but found
nothing to support the claim and took no further action.
Betourney also alleged that “the harassment in my
workplace continued after my complaint, ” but he did
not describe the continuing harassment nor did he specify how
long the harassment continued. Regarding his brief
termination, he alleged that “I was discharged for
about one week, based on incorrect disciplinary records that
failed to take account of documentation of my disability that
I had provided. After I explained the circumstances to HR, I
was rehired.” Finally, Betourney alleges generally that
he was discriminated against on the basis of his race
(African American), his religion (American Muslim) and his
disability and that he has been retaliated against for