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King v. Marina Dist. Dev. Co. LLC

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

November 8, 2017

GEORGE KING, Plaintiff,
v.
MARINA DIST. DEV. CO., LLC d/b/a BORGATA HOTEL AND CASINO & SPA, Defendant.

          OPINION

          HON. JOSEPH H. RODRIGUEZ, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         This matter comes before the court on Motion of Defendants Marina Dist. Dev. Co., LLC d/b/a Borgata Hotel and Casino & Spa (“Borgata”) for summary judgment pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 56. The Court has considered the written submissions of the parties as well as the arguments advanced at the hearing on October 17, 2017. For the reasons stated on the record that day, as well as those that follow, Defendants' motion is granted.

         I. Background

         Plaintiff George King was a well-liked employee of the Borgata who was hired in June, 2008 as a Mail Room Runner. See King Dep., Farrell Cert., Ex., A. pp. 12:22-13.2. Despite applying for nineteen positions at the Borgata during his employment, King remained in the mail room until his termination in June, 2013. Id. at pp. 42:5-13, 144:13-14.5. King was terminated pursuant to the Borgata's attendance policy. Id.

         King brings this action on the theory that the Borgata's failure to hire him was racially motivated. During his time at the Borgata, King completed an online course of study to improve his chances for advancement. Id. at pp. 54:20-55:7. King applied for nineteen different positions and, in each instance, he alleges that Borgata's failure to hire him was racially motivated. During oral argument, the Court noted that the record lacked evidence to support King's claims as to each instance. Plaintiff's counsel agreed that King is unable to sustain his claims of racial discrimination for the majority of the positions and conceded that King is only pursuing this action as to the following positions for which he was not hired: (1) Part-Time Club Host Mixx Nightclub, (2) Box Office Supervisor, (3) Direct Marketing Coordinator, (4) Customer Assurance Coordinator, and (5) Advertising/Branding Manager.

         The Borgata claims that King lacked the requisite qualifications for each position and that King cannot establish an inference of discrimination because he is unable to identify the qualifications of and the identity of the persons ultimately hired for these positions. Even if King establishes a prima facie case of discrimination, there is no genuine issue of material fact related to whether the Borgata's decision was motivated by racial animus because the Borgata has articulated legitimate, nondiscriminatory reasons for each decision. King fails to identify evidence in the record to challenge the Borgata's reasons.

         II. Summary Judgment Standard

         “Summary judgment is proper if there is no genuine issue of material fact and if, viewing the facts in the light most favorable to the non-moving party, the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Pearson v. Component Tech. Corp., 247 F.3d 471, 482 n.1 (3d Cir. 2001) (citing Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986)); accord Fed.R.Civ.P. 56 (a). Thus, the Court will enter summary judgment in favor of a movant who shows that it is entitled to judgment as a matter of law, and supports the showing that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact by “citing to particular parts of materials in the record, including depositions, documents, electronically stored information, affidavits or declarations, stipulations . . . admissions, interrogatory answers, or other materials.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56 (c)(1)(A).

         An issue is “genuine” if supported by evidence such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict in the nonmoving party's favor. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). A fact is “material” if, under the governing substantive law, a dispute about the fact might affect the outcome of the suit. Id. In determining whether a genuine issue of material fact exists, the court must view the facts and all reasonable inferences drawn from those facts in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986).

         Initially, the moving party has the burden of demonstrating the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). Once the moving party has met this burden, the nonmoving party must identify, by affidavits or otherwise, specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial. Id.; Maidenbaum v. Bally's Park Place, Inc., 870 F.Supp. 1254, 1258 (D.N.J. 1994). Thus, to withstand a properly supported motion for summary judgment, the nonmoving party must identify specific facts and affirmative evidence that contradict those offered by the moving party. Andersen, 477 U.S. at 256-57. “A nonmoving party may not ‘rest upon mere allegations, general denials or . . . vague statements . . . .'” Trap Rock Indus., Inc. v. Local 825, Int'l Union of Operating Eng'rs, 982 F.2d 884, 890 (3d Cir. 1992) (quoting Quiroga v. Hasbro, Inc., 934 F.2d 497, 500 (3d Cir. 1991)). Indeed,

the plain language of Rule 56(c) mandates the entry of summary judgment, after adequate time for discovery and upon motion, against a party who fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case, and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial.

Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322. That is, the movant can support the assertion that a fact cannot be genuinely disputed by showing that “an adverse party cannot produce admissible evidence to support the [alleged dispute of] fact.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1)(B); accord Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(2).

         III. Analysis

         Plaintiff's Title VII claim is governed by the burden-shifting framework set forth in McDonnell Douglas Corp. v. Green, 411 U.S. 792, 802-03, 93 S.Ct. 1817, 36 L.Ed.2d 668 (1973). To prevail on a Title VII racial discrimination claim in a failure to hire posture, a plaintiff must demonstrate prima facie that that (1) that he falls within a protected class; (2) that he was qualified for the work for which he applied; (3) that he was not hired; and (4) that the employer continued to seek others with the same qualifications or hired ...


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