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Matthews v. Board of Education of Howard County

United States District Court, Fourth Circuit

July 10, 2013

BASIL H. MATTHEWS, Plaintiff,
v.
BOARD OF EDUCATION OF HOWARD COUNTY, Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

GEORGE L. RUSSELL, III, District Judge.

THIS MATTER is before the Court on Defendant Board of Education of Howard County's (the "Board") Motion to Dismiss or, in the Alternative, for Summary Judgment Plaintiff Basil H. Matthews's Second Amended Complaint. (ECF No. 31). This case involves a claim of disparate treatment gender discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ("Title VII"), 42 U.S.C. ยงยง 2000e et seq. (2012).

There are two principle issues before the Court: (1) whether Mr. Matthews's allegations that he was subject to a written reprimand and mandatory counseling, which led to his stigmatization and reassignment to a floater position, constitute adverse employment actions; and (2) whether Mr. Matthews has alleged sufficient facts in the Second Amended Complaint to establish a plausible claim that the decision not to investigate his complaint against a female employee was based on his gender. The issues have been fully briefed and no hearing is necessary. See Local Rule 105.6 (D.Md. 2011).

The Court will grant the Board's Motion to Dismiss because (1) Mr. Matthews has not pled sufficient facts to establish a plausible claim that he suffered an adverse employment action, and (2) Mr. Matthews fails to state a plausible claim that the decision not to investigate his complaint against a female employee was based on his gender.

I. BACKGROUND[1]

The facts are fully set forth in the Court's prior Memorandum Opinion and need not be restated herein. See Matthews v. Bd. of Educ. of Howard Cnty., No. WDQ-12-1758, 2012 WL 6086871 (D.Md. Dec. 5, 2012) ("Matthews I"). In any event, it is helpful to review certain facts essential to the pending Motion.

Mr. Matthews's principal argument is that the Board failed to contact or interview any of his male coworkers during its investigation of an altercation between himself and another Board employee, Darlene Carter.

As a result of its investigation, the Board concluded that Mr. Matthews had violated the Board's sexual harassment policies during his altercation with Ms. Carter. Accordingly, the Board issued Mr. Matthews a written letter of reprimand, which required that he attend counseling through the Board's Employee Assistance Program. Mr. Matthews asserts that he was threatened with termination if he failed to attend the mandatory counseling. Consequently, Mr. Matthews insists he was compelled to take time off from work to attend the counseling sessions, which resulted in a loss of income. Mr. Matthews further alleges that, as a result of the reprimand and counseling, he was stigmatized, which led to the Board reassigning him to a floater position. The reassignment, he maintains, caused him instability and increased cost. Mr. Matthews contends that his gender was a determining factor in the Board's decisions.

This Court previously dismissed Mr. Matthews's Title VII claims without prejudice for two reasons. First, the Court held that Mr. Matthews failed to allege sufficient facts establishing that he suffered an adverse employment action based on his race and sex.[2] See Matthews I, 2012 WL 6086871, at *4. Secondly, the Court found that Mr. Matthews failed to allege facts plausibly establishing that gender was the basis for the Board's decision to investigate a female accuser's claim. Id . The Court nevertheless granted Mr. Matthews leave to amend his complaint as to the Title VII claims. Id. at *5.

On January 4, 2013, Mr. Matthews timely filed his Second Amended Complaint. (ECF No. 29). The matter currently before this Court concerns the Board's Motion to Dismiss or, in the Alternative, for Summary Judgment, filed on January 22, 2013. (ECF No. 31). Mr. Matthews opposes the Motion. (ECF Nos. 32-33).

II. DISCUSSION

A. Standard of Review

The purpose of a motion to dismiss filed pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) is to test the legal sufficiency of a complaint. Edwards v. City of Goldsboro , 178 F.3d 231, 243 (4th Cir. 1999). Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2), a complaint need only contain "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief, in order to give the defendant fair notice of what the... claim is and the grounds upon which it rests." Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly , 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (citations and internal quotation marks omitted).

In considering a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, this Court must construe the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, read the complaint as a whole, and take the facts asserted therein as true. See Harrison v. Westinghouse Savannah River Co. , 176 F.3d 776, 783 (4th Cir. 1999). However, "[a] pleading that offers labels and conclusions or a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do." Ashcroft v. Iqbal , 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citing Twombly , 550 U.S. at 555). A complaint is also insufficient if it ...


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