Hightower v. Savannah River Remediation, LLC (Lawyers Weekly No. 002-064-16, 22 pp.) (J. Michelle Childs, J.) 1:13-cv-03558; D.S.C.
Holding: Upon plaintiff’s return to work from back surgery, his employer denied him the benefit of its work-hardening program. Since this program is not mandated by the Family and Medical Leave Act and is instead a voluntary employer program, plaintiff has not made out a claim under the FMLA.
Summary judgment for defendant.
With regard to his Title VII claim, plaintiff has failed to rebut the defendant-employer’s legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason for demoting him: employee complaints about plaintiff’s management style. Plaintiff points to his positive performance evaluation, the complaining subordinates’ opposition to plaintiff before he ever took the job, and one employee’s statement that plaintiff had no credibility after Dancing with the Aiken Stars, in which the African-American plaintiff danced with a white woman. The court finds that this evidence does not rise to the level necessary to establish that plaintiff’s race actually played a role in the decision-making process and had a determinative influence on the outcome.