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Clarke v. Dyncorp Int'l LLC

United States District Court, D. Maryland

August 20, 2013

STEVEN CLARKE
v.
DYNCORP INTERNATIONAL LLC

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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For Steven Clarke, Plaintiff: Morris Eli Fischer, LEAD ATTORNEY, Daniel E Kenney, Morris E Fischer LLC, Silver Spring, MD.

For Dyncorp International, LLC, Defendant: Jason M Branciforte, LEAD ATTORNEY, Steven E Kaplan, Littler Mendelson PC, Washington, DC.

OPINION

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J. Frederick Motz, United States District Judge.

MEMORANDUM

Plaintiff Steven Clarke brings this suit against his former employer, DynCorp International LLC, under 42 U.S.C. § 1981; Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. ; and the Maryland Fair Employment Practices Act (" FEPA" ), Md. Code, State Gov't Art., § 20-606(a), alleging race discrimination, retaliation, and a retaliatory hostile work environment. Now pending is DynCorp's motion to dismiss most of the claims in Clarke's amended complaint. (ECF No. 11.) The issues have been fully briefed, and no hearing is necessary. See Local Rule 105.6. For the following reasons, DynCorp's motion to dismiss is granted in part and denied in part.

Background[1]

Clarke, an African-American male, was hired as an Airplane Mechanic III for DynCorp at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland in February 2004. (Am. Compl. ¶ ¶ 12, 17-18, ECF No. 8.) He received an interim security clearance but was required to obtain a full security clearance to continue employment at DynCorp. ( Id. ¶ 21, 25; see id. ¶ 79.) The Defense Security Service (" DSS" ) reviews applications for security clearance submitted by DynCorp for its employees. ( Id. ¶ 27.) A DynCorp officer maintains direct contact with DSS throughout the security investigation and provides additional information if necessary. ( Id. ¶ 18.)

According to the amended complaint, between 2004 and 2006 DynCorp hired a " substantially higher number of [w]hite aircraft mechanics than [b]lack mechanics; " white mechanics received " more favorable benefits than [b]lack mechanics; " and supervisors disciplined black mechanics disproportionately. ( Id. ¶ ¶ 30-31.) On August 17, 2006, Clarke filed an EEOC complaint against DynCorp alleging the company discriminated against him on account of his race when it accused him of sleeping on duty and suspended him without subjecting white employees to " the same level of discipline." ( Id. ¶ 29; 2006 Charge, Mot. to Dismiss, Ex. 1, ECF No. 11-2.) The EEOC concluded its investigation of the specific claims in Clarke's 2006 charge of discrimination and sent him a right-to-sue letter on January 17, 2007.[2] (Am. Compl. ¶ 38; 2007 Dismissal at 2, Mot. to Dismiss, Ex. 2, ECF No. 11-3.)

Clarke met with DynCorp maintenance supervisor, Louis Dickerson, in November 2007 to complain of " discriminatory punishment." (Am. Compl. ¶ ¶ 41-46.) Before that meeting, Clarke was " instructed to write up a statement regarding his interactions with 'William,'" a DynCorp Aircraft Mechanic III, which he believed was an effort by DynCorp management to discriminate and retaliate against him for his

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2006 EEOC charge of discrimination. ( Id. ¶ ¶ 4445.) Dickerson took no action in response to Clarke's complaint. ( Id. ¶ 47.)

Clarke claims DynCorp purposefully delayed converting his interim security clearance into a full-time security clearance while it " was able to push through security clearances of white mechanics and non-complaining mechanics, with no previous history of EEOC complaints or participation in the EEOC process" during the same time frame from 2006 to 2010. ( Id. ¶ ¶ 53, 55.) He claims DynCorp did not provide him assistance with the security clearance process when it routinely provided such assistance to other, non-complaining mechanics and that a fellow mechanic, Mark Waddell, witnessed this " disparate treatment." ( Id. ¶ ¶ 58-59.) Sometime in 2007, an unnamed DynCorp Aircraft Mechanic III told Clarke that he believed DynCorp was trying to negatively impact Clarke's security clearance. ( Id. ¶ 59.) Clarke received a questionnaire packet from DSS about his security clearance in April 2009, but no one at DynCorp corresponded with him about the security clearance from 2009 to 2010. ( Id. ¶ ¶ 60-61.) Clarke makes mixed allegations both that he learned that his interim security clearance had been " pulled" in November 2008 and that he did not learn that it had been pulled until he was discharged from DynCorp in 2010.[3] ( Id. ¶ ¶ 56, 57.)

Clarke learned in 2008 after his right-to-sue period had expired that someone in DynCorp's human resources department " had revealed to [Clarke's] coworkers (Arthur Hubbard, Car Starker, Louis Dickerson) that [he] had 'bounced checks' [and] was 'arrested for spousal abuse'" even though Clarke had been cleared of spousal abuse charges associated with the arrest and had a " valid explanation regarding the bounced check." ( Id. ¶ ¶ 49-51.) From 2008 to 2010, DynCorp's lead supervisor on the second shift, Arthur Hubbard, a white male, referred to Clarke as " a fat ass" and " black fat ass." ( Id. ¶ 62.) Hubbard made reference to Clarke's EEOC activity on at least three occasions, the last of which being October 2009, saying, " Your complaints are going to get you nowhere," and " Your complaints are going to get you fired." ( Id. ¶ ¶ 63-64.)

On April 26, 2010, Clarke filed a second EEOC charge alleging race discrimination from other black male DynCorp employees and discriminatory retaliation in the form of the investigation into his security clearance. ( Id. ¶ ¶ 65, 76; 2010 Charge at 2, Am. Compl. Ex. 1, ECF No. 8-1.) The EEOC sent a notice that Clarke had filed his 2010 charge of discrimination to DynCorp on June 8, 2010. (2010 Notice, Mot. to Dismiss, Ex. 3, ECF No. 11-4.) In " approximately June 2010," Clarke overheard lead supervisor, Car Starker, telling other employees that " this what ...


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