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Clarke v. Dyncorp International, LLC

United States District Court, D. Maryland

August 28, 2014



J. FREDERICK MOTZ, District Judge.

Plaintiff Steven Clarke brings this lawsuit against his former employer, DynCorp International, LLC, under 42 U.S.C. § 1981; Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ("Title VII"), 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 and retaliation. The court granted DynCorp's motion to dismiss in part and denied it in part on August 20, 2013 (ECF No. 19), permitting only Clarke's disparate treatment claim (Count I) and DynCorp's alleged retaliatory discharge of him in response to filing EEOC charges in 2010 (part of Count II) to move forward. ( Id. ). Now pending is DynCorp's motion for summary judgment on Clarke's remaining Counts (ECF No. 44), and Clarke's cross-motion for partial summary judgment. (ECF No. 55)[1].

No oral argument is necessary. See Local Rule 105.6. For the reasons set forth below, the court grants DynCorp's motion for summary judgment, and denies Clarke's cross-motion for partial summary judgment.


Clarke is a former employee of DynCorp, a provider of technology and services to various clients including the United States. Relevant to this lawsuit, the United States contracts with DynCorp to service and maintain the United States Presidential Fleet at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland. (DI's Answer to Plaintiff's First Set of Interrogatories, No. 13, ECF No. 44-2). Due to obvious national security concerns, the United States requires DynCorp to comply with various security measures, including the condition that all DynCorp employees working on the Presidential Fleet "obtain and maintain a secret security clearance." (DynCorp employment offer letter to Clarke, ECF No. 44-4).

DynCorp hired Clarke as an "at will" Aircraft Mechanic on April 2, 2004 to work on its United States Presidential Fleet contract at Andrews Air Force Base. DynCorp clearly stated in the job description and Clarke's offer letter that his obtaining and maintaining a secret security clearance was a necessary condition of continued employment with DynCorp. ( Id. ). Clarke acknowledged that condition when he was hired. (Plaintiff Dep. pp. 40-41, ECF No. 44-3).

The Defense Security Service ("DSS"), a United States Department of Defense agency, administered the relevant security clearance process for Clarke during his DynCorp employment. DSS provided Clarke with a customary interim security clearance soon after he began working at DynCorp in April 2004, which was to last pending a more thorough background investigation culminating in a final adjudication.

DynCorp serves as an intermediary between DSS and DynCorp's employees by delivering any sealed DSS packages to the employee who then mails back the requested information to DSS directly.[2] DynCorp only becomes more closely involved if DSS informs it that DSS has revoked or denied a DynCorp employee's security clearance. Although DSS informed DynCorp in "mid-2009" that it had withdrawn Clarke's interim security clearance, DynCorp retained Clarke as an employee pending DSS's final adjudication on his security clearance. (DynCorp's Answer to Plaintiff's First Set of Interrogatories, No. 12, ECF No. 44-2). The Defense Office of Hearings and Appeals (DOHA) informed DynCorp on July 21, 2010 that Clarke was ineligible for a security clearance, and DynCorp informed Clarke of DOHA's decision on July 23, 2010. (ECF No. 44-14).[3]

Citing Clarke's failure to maintain a security clearance, DynCorp terminated his employment effective August 31, 2010. (ECF No. 8-2). Clarke, who had filed EEOC charges beginning in 2006 that alleged racial discrimination, retaliation and a hostile work environment, amended his July 26, 2010 EEOC charge to include the allegation that DynCorp discharged him in retaliation for his protected EEOC activity. (ECF Nos. 44-21; 11-6). Clarke received a rightto-sue letter from the EEOC on August 9, 2012 and filed this lawsuit on November 7, 2012.

A. DynCorp's Previous Motion to Dismiss.

DynCorp filed a motion to dismiss Clarke's claims on March 26, 2013 (ECF No. 11), which the court granted in part and denied in part on August 20, 2013. (ECF No. 19).[4] The court dismissed Clarke's retaliatory hostile work environment claim (Count III) because the allegations did not constitute a legally sufficient abusive atmosphere. The court also dismissed part of Clarke's retaliation claim (Count II), because his 2006 EEOC charge was too remote from his discharge in August 2010 to satisfy the required causality element of a prima facie retaliation case.

The court denied DynCorp's motion to dismiss as to Clarke's claim of disparate treatment in Count I and Clarke's remaining allegations in Count II, that DynCorp discharged him in August 2010 in retaliation for his filing of EEOC charges in June and July 2010. The case then proceeded to discovery.

B. Current Cross-motions for Summary Judgment.

DynCorp filed for summary judgment on April 21, 2014 (ECF No. 44), arguing that there were no disputed material facts and that it was entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Clarke filed a response in opposition on July 25, 2014 (ECF No. 54), ...

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