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Robb v. Maryland Aviation Administration

United States District Court, D. Maryland

August 15, 2014

THEODORE A. ROBB, JR., Plaintiff,
v.
MARYLAND AVIATION ADMINISTRATION, Defendants.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

JAMES K. BREDAR, District Judge.

Theodore A. Robb, Jr. ("Plaintiff") brought this suit pro se against the Maryland Aviation Administration ("MAA" or "Defendant") alleging discrimination on the basis of race in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ("Title VII"), 42 U.S.C. ยงยง 2000e, et seq. Now pending before the Court is Defendant's motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. (ECF No. 5.) The issues have been briefed and no hearing is required. Local Rule 105.6. For the reasons set forth below, the motion will be denied.

I. BACKGROUND[1]

From December 17, 1986 until he retired on December 11, 2012, Plaintiff worked at MAA's Fire and Rescue Department ("FRD"), based out of the Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport ("BWI"). (ECF No. 9 at 2; No. 5-3.) Plaintiff, who began as a groundkeeper, ended his career as Airport Fire Lieutenant, a position he was promoted to in 2008. (ECF No. 9 at 2.) Following his retirement, Plaintiff continued working for MAA as an "Airport Management Officer I" with the Office of Operations. (ECF No. 5-3.) He served in that capacity from December 12, 2012 until he resigned on March 12, 2013. ( Id. )

On a number of occasions, between October 19, 2011 and February 5, 2012, Plaintiff found the fire station mop, broom, and other janitorial equipment placed in front of his bunkroom door. (ECF No. 1-1.) Plaintiff explains that "white employees left the mop to demonstrate [that Plaintiff was] an inferior and only good enough to serve as the fire station janitor or custodian." ( Id. at 2.)

The exact number of occasions on which Plaintiff found a mop in front of his bunkroom door is not altogether clear. However, the Court's best understanding of Plaintiff's pleadings is that the first instance was on October 19, 2011. (ECF No. 1-1 at 2-3; No. 5-2; No. 9 at 6.) On that day, Gregory Scott, who worked as a driver/operator at the FRD, "and three other white subordinates" placed "janitorial equipment" outside of Plaintiff's bunkroom door. (ECF No. 5-2.) The second and third instances occurred on January 7, 2012, when on two distinct occasions, Plaintiff found the mop placed in front of his door. (ECF No. 1-1 at 4.) Then, on January 28, Plaintiff again found that "the station mop and vacuum [cleaner had both been] left in front of his bunkroom doorway." ( Id. at 7.) In each of these instances, Plaintiff suspected that Scott was principally responsible. ( Id. at 2-3, 4, 7.)

On February 1, 2012, Plaintiff witnessed Michael Reid, who, like Scott, worked as a driver/operator at FRD, placing a mop in front of Plaintiff's bunkroom door. (ECF No. 1-1 at 8.) A sixth instance occurred on February 5, 2012, when Reid, again, placed a mop in front of Plaintiff's door. (ECF No. 1-7.)

Plaintiff repeatedly reported these incidents to his supervisors. On January 8, 2012, he emailed Woodrow Cullum, who was the Director of FRD, reporting that "[o]n or about Saturday, January 7, 2012, on several occasions through-out the day a station mop has been left in front of my bunkroom." (ECF No. 1-1 at 4; No. 1-3.) He further noted that he "believe[d]" Scott was responsible for this incident. (ECF No. 1-3.)

Following this e-mail, on January 9, 2012, Cullum sent an e-mail to all FRD supervisors on "how to hold employees accountable for their actions."[2] (ECF No. 1-1 at 4; No. 1-9.) On January 16, 2012, Cullum sent two more e-mails. The first reminded all FRD employees that "as employees of the Maryland Aviation Administration we need to treat fellow employee's [sic], supervisors and our customers with civility and respect at all times." (ECF No. 1-1 at 4; No. 1-8.) The second, addressed to "selected personnel, " warned that improperly stored cleaning equipment represented a tripping hazard. (ECF no. 1-1 at 5.)

Then, on January 19, 2012, Plaintiff met with Cullum, as well as with William Stewart, the Division Chief of Operations at FRD, to discuss his January 8 e-mail. (ECF No. 1-1 at 5; ECF No. 1-6.) At this meeting, Cullum "commended Lt. Robb [, i.e., Plaintiff, ] for his ability to deflect the innuendos made toward him without getting upset and encouraged [Plaintiff] to continue to maintain his professional attitude and demeanor." (ECF No. 1-1 at 5; No. 1-6.) Cullum also asked Plaintiff if he wanted to be reassigned to another shift. (ECF No. 1-6.) However, Plaintiff declined and explained that he wished to remain on the "C" shift until his retirement. ( Id. )

On January 31, 2012, Plaintiff complained about the January 27 and 28 incidents, this time to Stewart. Plaintiff noted that he believed "Driver/Operator Rob Scott and other C shift personnel" were responsible for the incident. (ECF No. 1-4.) He further provided that the incidents constituted "unfair work practices, which is creating a hostile work environment to intimidate." ( Id. ) Stewart told Plaintiff that he needed to meet with the Director of the MAA Office of Fair Practices ("OFP"), Angela Martin. (ECF No. 1-1 at 7.) However, it is unclear whether or not Plaintiff did so. ( Id. ("[H]owever Lt. Robb did not want to discuss the harassment incident with [OFP]....").)

Later, Plaintiff also complained to Stewart about the February 5 incident involving Reid. (ECF No. 1-1 at 8; No. 1-7.) In response to this complaint, Stewart had a discussion with Reid in which Stewart explained that there "had been... some issues with C shift personnel leaving cleaning items in front of Lt. Robb's bunkroom door." ( Id. )

Plaintiff acknowledges that OFP has alleged that "Fire Chief Cullum reprimanded D/O Scott and the MAA considered the matter closed after imposing disciplinary action." ( Id. at 10.) However, Plaintiff disputes this claim and alleges that "[f]rom October 19, 2011 to May 18, 2012 the (MAA) [sic] took no corrective actions." ( Id. at 11.)

The Court notes that in his response to Defendant's motion to dismiss, Plaintiff has alleged that he had "no authority to manage the actions of subordinates." (ECF No. 9 at 7.) In his pleading, however, Plaintiff has stated that he ordered Scott "to stand and leave" and has described himself as a supervisor. (ECF No. 1-1 at 3; No. 7.) In light of the fact that the Court is ruling on a motion to dismiss and that Plaintiff is pro se, the Court will interpret Plaintiff's ...


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