United States District Court, D. Maryland
[Copyrighted Material Omitted]
For Brandon Taylor, Plaintiff: Laura Evelyn Hay, Robin R Cockey, LEAD ATTORNEYS, Cockey Brennan and Maloney PC, Salisbury, MD.
For Peninsula Regional Medical Center, Defendant: Kevin M Cox, Kollman & Saucier, P.A., Timonium, MD; Randi Klein Hyatt, Kollman and Saucier PA, Timonium, MD.
William M. Nickerson, Senior United States District Judge.
This case involves claims of employment discrimination and retaliation in violation of Title VII, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq., and 42 U.S.C. § 1981. Before the Court is a Motion for Summary Judgment as to all claims, filed by Defendant Peninsula Regional Medical Center (" PRMC" ). ECF No. 19. In his Opposition, Plaintiff Brandon Taylor (" Taylor" ) voluntarily dismissed his employment discrimination claims, leaving for the Court's determination the summary judgment motion as to Taylor's retaliation claims only. See ECF No. 22-1 at 1. For the reasons that follow, the Court determines that no hearing is necessary, Local Rule 105.6, and Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment will be granted.
I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
Taylor, an African-American male, was employed as a security officer with PRMC from June 2006 until July 2010. Taylor worked in the Security Department under Shift Supervisor Anthony Tull, Director of Protection Services Alonzo Tull (" Chief Tull" ), and Director of Facilities and Maintenance Bruce Patterson. During the course of Taylor's employment, he received multiple salary increases, equaling a raise of approximately $2.50 per hour over the course of his employment. He received his final raise on June 6, 2010. He also received two promotions, ultimately achieving the title of Corporal in 2010.
Prior to June 2010, Taylor had received only positive reviews from his supervisors and was not involved in any disciplinary incidents. Between June and July 2010, however, Taylor was involved in multiple workplace incidents relevant to his ultimate separation from PRMC. The first incident, for which Taylor ultimately was not disciplined, occurred in June 2010 and involved a patient who fell in the Emergency Department in the presence of Taylor, two other officers, and a nurse (the " ED incident" ). Patterson and Chief Tull reviewed videotape footage to determine whether the patient was pushed by a security officer or fell of her own accord. All three officers were placed on administrative leave until it was determined that the patient was not pushed. The officers each received a written warning for failing to help the patient up or seeing if she was injured. The nurse involved in the incident was terminated.
Taylor, believing that he was unfairly disciplined for the incident, visited Lura Lunsford, the Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer at PRMC. He expressed concern regarding the discipline imposed, and stated that he perceived Patterson to be racially biased. After investigating Taylor's concerns, Lunsford concluded that the officers' actions were consistent with their training and that the discipline was therefore unwarranted.
Upon conferring with Patterson and the individual who initially imposed the discipline, the written warnings were rescinded and the incident was removed from Taylor's disciplinary record.
During Lunsford's investigation into the ED incident, Taylor reported a comment allegedly made by Patterson over the PRMC radio system in May or June 2009. Taylor alleged that Patterson, in reference to construction workers on PRMC property, said to " get the damn Mexicans off of the property."  Although Defendant notes that Taylor did not mention the comment until June 2010, Taylor alleges that he complained about Patterson's statement the day after it was made to his direct supervisor, Anthony Tull. Taylor's coworker Tyrone Douglas apparently later confirmed, via text message to Taylor, that Patterson made the comment as alleged. See ECF No. 22-5. After investigating the incident, however, PRMC stated that it was unable to corroborate that Patterson's statement occurred. To the extent that Patterson may have commented on the presence of the construction workers, Defendant asserts that his statement was intended to convey that non-English speaking construction workers could not be responsible for directing traffic and speaking with drivers for safety concerns.
The second disciplinary incident involved a complaint from an employee who called security at 7:26 a.m. on July 2, 2010, seeking help because a cleaning machine vendor was circling her vehicle in the parking lot. Taylor took the call, but did not assist the employee. Although Taylor contends that he explained to the employee that the vendor was simply doing its job, PRMC asserts that Taylor repeatedly changed his story regarding the allegations. Specifically, Taylor allegedly stated, at various times, that he was too busy to assist the employee, could not do anything because the complaint involved a vendor, and that he did not take the call.
Around this time, Taylor was tangentially involved in an investigation into sexual harassment allegations against Chief Tull. Taylor apparently encouraged two female employees with concerns about Chief Tull to speak with Human Resources. The Human Resources Director, Mitzi Scott, attempted to interview Taylor regarding the allegations multiple times. PRMC states that Taylor did not cooperate with the investigation, and was evasive and difficult. By contrast, Taylor argues that, to the extent that his responses could be characterized as evasive, it was because he did not know anything about the allegations and was not involved in the relevant incident. During a meeting with Scott regarding the matter on July 7, Taylor reiterated his general concerns about racial bias. Scott directed Taylor to create a " narrative" outlining his concerns, which Taylor later provided to Scott. In this narrative, Taylor noted specifically his concerns regarding Patterson and race, and his belief that he was unfairly passed over for the opportunity to carry a weapon as a security officer and was paid less than white officers. See ECF No. 22-11.
PRMC alleges that, during a subsequent meeting with Scott on July 15, 2010, Taylor " began to raise his voice, was speaking very loudly, and accused the Hospital of discriminating against him and repeatedly called Ms. Scott a racist." ECF No. 19-1 at 26. Scott alleges that, as a result of Taylor's conduct during the meeting, she became afraid. Because Taylor " refus[ed]
to cooperate during [the] investigation[,] ... chang[ed his] stories" and behaved poorly in her office, Scott informed Taylor that he was being placed on administrative leave. See ECF No. 22-7 at 17. She provided Taylor with a Non-Disclosure/Non-Disparage Agreement, prepared prior to the meeting with Taylor on that day, which instructed him to surrender his badge and prohibited him from disclosing " any aspect of this matter to anyone." Taylor apparently then stated that he was " going to go to the news and had already filed an EEOC complaint." ECF No. 19-1 at 27. When Scott informed him that she was going to get security to escort him from the building, Taylor walked out of her ...