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Flatt v. Lowe's Home Centers, LLC

United States District Court, S.D. West Virginia, Charleston Division

April 18, 2019

VICKI L. FLATT Plaintiff,
v.
LOWE'S HOME CENTERS, LLC, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          JOSEPH R. GOODWIN, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         I. Introduction

         Pending before the court is the defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment [ECF No. 25]. The deadline for the filing of a response has passed, and the plaintiff has not filed a response. For the reasons that follow, the Motion is GRANTED.

         II. Background

         Defendant Lowe's Home Centers, LLC ("Lowe's") hired the plaintiff as a customer service associate in 2008 at its Beaufort, South Carolina store. In 2010, the plaintiff was promoted to department manager. In November 2014, the plaintiff requested a transfer to the Nitro, West Virginia store, which Lowe's approved. Defendant Michael Dorsey worked as the manager at the Nitro store.

         In 2016, the plaintiff began using intermittent leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act ("FMLA") after she was diagnosed with lung cancer. After her twelve weeks of FMLA leave expired, she began using continuous leave pursuant to the Americans with Disabilities Act.

         In January 2017, Lowe's eliminated all department manager positions nationwide. Lowe's replaced the department manager positions with a reduced number of service and support manager positions. Former department managers were given the option to apply for these new positions. Moreover, former department managers who applied for these new positions but were not selected were given an opportunity to work for Lowe's for an additional year as a customer service associate with no change in pay while they applied for other jobs within Lowe's.

         The plaintiff in this matter applied for one of the new positions but was not selected. Because the plaintiff was on leave at the time of the restructure, she was given an additional time to apply for positions after returning to work to ensure that she had a full year to secure another position. However, the plaintiff did not secure another position at Lowe's within that time frame and was therefore terminated.

         The plaintiff filed the instant Complaint [ECF No. l-l] in the Circuit Court of Kanawha County on March 12, 2018. The case was removed to this court on April 13, 2018.[1] The Complaint contains five counts. Counts One, Two, and Three assert claims under the West Virginia Human Rights Act ("WVHRA"), alleging that the defendants failed to rehire the plaintiff because of her age, gender, and disability. Count Four alleges that the defendants terminated the plaintiffs employment in retaliation for her use of FMLA benefits, and Count Five alleges that the defendants committed the tort of outrage. On March 28, 2019, the defendants moved for summary judgment, requesting that the court dismiss this action with prejudice.

         III. Legal Standard

         To obtain summary judgment, the moving party must show that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). "Facts are 'material' when they might affect the outcome of the case." Lester v. Gilbert, 85 F.Supp.3d 851, 857 (S.D. W.Va. 2015) (quoting News & Observer Publ'g Co. v. Raleigh-Durham Airport Auth., 597 F.3d 570, 576 (4th Cir. 2010)). "A genuine issue of material fact exists if ... a reasonable fact-finder could return a verdict for the non-movant." Runyon v. Hannah, No. 2:12-1394, 2013 WL 2151235, at *2 (S.D. W.Va. May 16, 2013) (citations omitted); see Williams v. Griffin, 952 F.2d 820, 824 (4th Cir. 1991) ("Disposition by summary judgment is appropriate . . . where the record as a whole could not lead a rational trier of fact to find for the non-movant."). The moving party bears the burden of showing that "there is an absence of evidence to support the nonmoving party's case." Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 325 (1986).

         In considering a motion for summary judgment, the court will not "weigh the evidence and determine the truth of the matter." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 249 (1986). Instead, the court will draw any permissible inference from the underlying facts in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587-88 (1986). Summary judgment is appropriate when the nonmoving party has the burden of proof on an essential element of his or her case and does not make, after adequate time for discovery, a showing sufficient to establish that element. Celotex Corp., 477 U.S. at 322-23. The nonmoving party must satisfy this burden of proof by offering more than a mere "scintilla of evidence" in support of his or her position. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 252.

         Conclusory allegations or unsupported speculation, without more, are insufficient to preclude the granting of summary judgment. See Dash v. Mayweather, 731 F.3d 303, 311 (4th Cir. 2013).

         IV. ...


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