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Craig v. Tennessee Department of Children's Services

United States District Court, W.D. Tennessee, Western Division

August 29, 2019

TANIKA SHUNTA CRAIG, Plaintiff,
v.
TENNESSEE DEPARTMENT OF CHILDREN'S SERVICES, Defendant.

          ORDER

          SAMUEL H. MAYS, JR., UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Before the Court is the Magistrate Judge's Report and Recommendation (the “Report”), dated August 6, 2019. (ECF No. 48.)[1] The Report recommends granting Defendant Tennessee Department of Children's Services' (“Tennessee DCS”) Motion for Summary Judgment. (Id. at 240.) Plaintiff Tanika Shunta Craig objected to the Report on August 19, 2019 (the “Objection”). (ECF No. 50.) Tennessee DCS filed a response to the Objection on August 27, 2019. (ECF No. 51.)

         For the following reasons, Craig's Objection is OVERRULED, and the Report's recommendation is ADOPTED. Tennessee DCS's Motion for Summary Judgment is GRANTED.

         I. Background

         On July 21, 2017, Craig filed a pro se complaint (the “Complaint”) against Tennessee DCS alleging violations of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e, et seq. (“Title VII”). (ECF No. 1 at 1.) Craig submitted an amended complaint (the “Amended Complaint”) on September 7, 2017. (ECF No. 9.)

         Craig's Amended Complaint reiterates the alleged violations of Title VII, arguing that Tennessee DCS failed to hire her as a full-time employee, terminated her from a probationary period of employment, [2] provided unequal terms and conditions of employment, and discriminated against her generally, all based on her race and color. (See ECF No. 9 at 23.) The Magistrate Judge accurately recites the rest of the background and the procedural posture of the case in the Report. (ECF No. 36 at 240-43.) Craig does not object to that recitation. (See ECF No. 50.) The Court need not repeat it here.

         On May 20, 2019, Tennessee DCS filed a Motion for Summary Judgment under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(a). (ECF No. 44-1 at 166.) Tennessee DCS contends, inter alia, that the summary judgment standard is satisfied because it submitted an uncontested statement of material facts that proves it terminated Craig because she was unable to meet certain conditions of employment during her probationary period and not for any discriminatory reasons. (Id. at 117.)

         The Magistrate Judge issued her Report on August 6, 2019, recommending granting Tennessee DCS's Motion for Summary Judgment.[3] (ECF No. 36 at 240.)

         Craig submitted an Objection to the Report on August 19, 2019. (ECF No. 50.) Reading her Objection as a whole, the Court construes it to be an objection to some of the Report's Proposed Findings of Fact and implicitly to the effect of those findings on the underlying legal analysis. (See id.) Craig does not object to the Report's Title VII legal standards and the analysis based on those standards. (See id.)

         Specifically, Craig disagrees with the Report's findings that:

- “[Craig] was more nervous during her second panel assessment than she was during her first panel assessment.” (ECF No. 48 at 245; see No. 50 at 259.)
- Craig failed her second panel assessment. (See ECF No. 48 at 246; No. 50 at 260.)
- “[A co-worker named Stephen Shopher] was moved to an office at the Child Advocacy Center because he was more senior than Plaintiff and did not need the support of other DCS personnel.” (ECF No. 48 at 251; see No. 50 at 260.)

         Craig objects to those findings and argues that the facts are material and disputed and that Tennessee DCS's Motion for Summary Judgment should be denied. (See ECF No. 50 at 260-61.)

         The first two findings to which Craig objects are relevant to her failure to hire and termination of employment claim. The last is relevant to Craig's unequal terms and conditions of employment claim. All rely on Title VII. (See ECF No. 9 at 23; 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e, et seq.) The Court adopts all of the Report's other findings of fact. See Thomas v. Arn, 474 U.S. 140, 151 (1985).

         II. Jurisdiction

         The Court has jurisdiction over Craig's claims. Under 28 U.S.C. § 1331, U.S. district courts have original jurisdiction “of all civil actions arising under the Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States.” The Amended Complaint alleges that Tennessee DCS discriminated against Craig in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. (ECF No. 9 at 21.) Craig's claim arises under the laws of the United States.

         III. Standard of Review

         A. Report and Recommendation

         Congress enacted 28 U.S.C. § 636 to relieve the burden on the federal judiciary by permitting the assignment of district court duties to magistrate judges. See United States v. Curtis, 237 F.3d 598, 602 (6th Cir. 2001) (citing Gomez v. United States, 490 U.S. 858, ...


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