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Ruffin v. Lockheed Martin Corporation

United States District Court, D. Maryland, Northern Division

May 15, 2014



WILLIAM D. QUARLES, Jr., District Judge.

Lakesha Ruffin, pro se, sued Lockheed Martin Corporation ("Lockheed") for employment discrimination in the Circuit Court for Howard County. Lockheed removed to this Court. Pending are Lockheed's motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction (ECF No. 8), Ruffin's motion for an extension of time to oppose the motion to dismiss and to remand (ECF No. 12), and Lockheed's and Ruffin's motions for leave to file surreplies (ECF Nos. 16, 21). No hearing is necessary. Local Rule 105.6 (D. Md. 2011). For the following reasons, Ruffin's motion for an extension and to remand will be granted in part and denied in part, Lockheed's motion to dismiss will be granted, and the motions for leave to file surreplies will be granted.

I. Background[1]

In April 2008, Ruffin, an African-American female, was hired by Lockheed as a Senior Systems Engineer. See ECF No. 2 ¶¶ 5, 41. During her tenure at Lockheed, Ruffin reported to Andrew Westdorp and Jill Andres who are white. Id. ¶ 9.

In September 2008, "Ruffin was accosted by a co-worker, Nandita Kanjurith." Id. ¶ 13. Kanjurith shouted at her and made "physical movements of harm toward[] her." Id. She told Ruffin that Ruffin was a "loser, " that "no one like[d]" her, and that she was a "waste of space." Id. After investigating the incident, Andres moved Kanjurith to a different office. Id. ¶ 14.

In October 2008, Steve McMahon, "Ruffin's Teamlead, " complained to Andres about Ruffin's absences. Id. ¶ 15. As a result, on October 21, 2008, Ruffin was placed on a "Performance Improvement Plan (PIP)." Id. ¶¶ 10, 15. The attendance issues were caused by Ruffin's three hour commute (each way) from her home on the Eastern Shore. Id. ¶ 10. Ruffin was given only 30 days to move closer to her work, after which she moved to Columbia, Maryland. Id. ¶ 11. The move "ultimately required [her] to pay rent and a mortgage on the home on the Eastern Shore, " which "eventually forced her into foreclosure." Id. After Ruffin moved, her attendance improved; she was taken off the PIP in March 2009. Id. ¶ 12.

During her 2008 annual performance review, Andres told Ruffin that she "sometimes comes across harshly to others, " but did not substantiate this statement with "specific incidents, dates, and times." Id. ¶ 19. Andres gave Ruffin an overall performance rating of "basic;" a rating one level above unsatisfactory but still within the "satisfactory" performance range. Id. ¶ 18.

After Ruffin was taken off the PIP, she complained that her co-workers were creating a "hostile work environment" and "sabotaging" her work. Id. ¶ 16. In April 2009, she reported that she was receiving "strange telephone calls" at her home when she left for work and when she returned home. Id. ¶ 20. She believed that her co-workers were making the calls. Id. Ruffin's car was "keyed" in the Lockheed parking lot. Id. ¶ 17.

During her 2009 annual performance review, Andres "rated Ruffin a successful contributor, " but told her that she needed "to work on her people skills." Id. ¶ 22.

In February 2010, Ruffin told Andres that her "workspace was tampered with" - her light was turned off, her files moved, and her papers thrown around her desk - while was in the restroom after her arrival at work. Id. ¶ 20. Andres told Ruffin that "it was probably the cleaning crew." Id. Ruffin also claimed that Michael Buadoo, an African-American employee, tampered with her thumb drive. Id. ¶ 26. Her claim was investigated, but "nothing was found" to support it. Id. Ruffin also made other accusations against her co-workers around this time, but Andres "told her to try to address work related conflicts directly." Id. ¶ 23.

"On April 5, 2010, Ruffin initiated a short-term disability leave" until June 21, 2010. Id. ¶ 24. On July 1, 2010, after she returned to work, she became ill and was on sick leave until July 12, 2010. Id. ¶ 25. On July 13, 2010, Ruffin initiated a second short-term disability leave until September 27, 2010. Id. ¶ 27. While she was on leave, Andres "filed an internal complaint against Ruffin for disrupting the workplace with accusations against other co-workers." Id. ¶ 28.

In October 2010, Ruffin complained to the Ethics Department at Lockheed that Buadoo "exposed his chest and made inappropriate body movements towards her, " but the Department "found no harassment."[2] Id. ¶ 44. On October 4, 2010, Andres gave Ruffin an "Employee Performance Notification, " which "addressed" Ruffin's complaint about another co-worker attending a meeting that Ruffin believed she should not attend and "Ruffin hanging up on a telephone call with a program manager while" she was out on leave. Id. ¶ 30. Ruffin "refused to acknowledge the EPN." Id. ¶ 31. On October 21, 2010, she requested "a reduced workload due to stress." Id. ¶ 34. On November, 2, 2010, she initiated another medical leave. Id. ¶ 35.

On November 12, 2010, Andres suspended Ruffin for two weeks "for unprofessional tone, tardiness, missed... deadlines[, ] and disruptions to the work environment." Id. ¶ 36. During Ruffin's suspension, a customer complained about her. Id. ¶ 37. On December 9, 2010, Andres terminated Ruffin's employment because of "on-going performance issues, customer concerns, and her accusations against other workers." Id. ¶ 38. When Ruffin was terminated, she was on long-term disability leave "approved by Cigna" until June 2011. Id. ¶¶ 39, 55.

On July 6, 2011, Ruffin filed a discrimination charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). ECF No. 8-2. On February 21, 2012 - while the EEOC investigation was pending - Ruffin filed a Chapter 7 bankruptcy petition in the Bankruptcy Court for the District of Maryland. See ECF No. 8-3. In her bankruptcy petition, Ruffin was directed to "[l]ist all suits and administrative proceedings to which the debtor is or was a party within one year immediately preceding the filing of this bankruptcy case." ECF No. 8-3 at 35. Although Ruffin listed three lawsuits to which she was a party, she did not list the EEOC charge.[3] See id. On May 31, 2012, the bankruptcy court granted Ruffin a ...

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