United States District Court, D. Maryland, Southern Division
YASHIKA L. MABRY, Plaintiff,
CAPITAL ONE, N.A., Defendant.
GEORGE JARROD HAZEL, District Judge.
This is a race discrimination case brought by Yashika L. Mabry ("Mabry"), an African-American, against her former employer, Capital One, N.A. ("Capital One"), for purported violations of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2 et seq, and § 2-222 of the Prince George's County Code. This Memorandum Opinion and accompanying Order address Capital One's Motion for Summary Judgment, ECF No. 33. A hearing is not necessary. See Loc. R. 105.6 (Md.). For the reasons stated below, Capital One's Motion for Summary Judgment is GRANTED. Mabry's complaint is therefore dismissed with prejudice.
In October 2011, Mabry was hired by Capital One as a district manager. See Plaintiff's Response to Defendant's "Statement of Undisputed Facts, " ECF No. 39 at ¶ 1. As a district manager, Mabry's role was to develop and implement retail banking strategies within the Mid-Atlantic region. See id. at ¶ 2. Specifically, Mabry was expected to oversee and lead her district, with a focus on sales and service, by coaching Branch Managers and Relationship Bankers, delivering on sales volumes and revenue targets, and executing bank initiatives. See id. She was also responsible for managing expenses, operations, credit controls, human resources, and meeting financial and compliance standards. See id. When Mabry was hired, she was supervised by Michael Pugh, who supervised her until March 1, 2012 when George Swygert ("Swygert") was hired by Capital One as a regional executive of the Mid-Atlantic region. See id. at ¶ 4.
To measure a district manager's success, Capital One uses, among other factors, a system of key performance indicators ("KPIs"). See id. at ¶ 9. The KPIs are performance goals collaboratively set by Capital One's marketing and analytics teams, as well as by individual employees and their managers. See id. The use of KPIs allows Capital One to objectively evaluate and compare districts. See id. Capital One considers its district managers to be successful when they meet at least seven of the nine established KPIs. From May 2012 through August 2012, it is undisputed that Mabry was not meeting this goal. See id. at ¶ 21. Specifically, in May 2012, Mabry only met three out of nine KPIs; in June 2012, she met four out of nine; in July 2012, she met three out of nine; and in August 2012, she met four out of nine. See id. From February 2012 through September 2012, Swygert conducted regular coaching sessions with Mabry during which he addressed many of his performance-related concerns and offered her suggestions for improvement. See id. at ¶¶ 12-18; see also ECF No. 39-7. By September 2012, however, Mabry's district had one of the lowest year-to-date corporate rankings in the Mid-Atlantic region, ranking 55th out of 67 districts company-wide. See ECF No. 39 at ¶¶ 20-22.
In addition to Mabry's failure to meet the required number of KPIs and the poor performance of her district, she was also the subject of multiple complaints filed with Capital One's Associate Relations Division - the division of Capital One responsible for handling human resources-related complaints from staff. See id. at ¶ 24; see also id. at ¶ 5. For example, on January 24, 2012, the Associate Relations Division received a complaint from an associate who had recently returned to work from leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act and was complaining that Mabry would not allow her to take a flex day. See id. at ¶ 25. Then, on February 13, 2012, the Associate Relations Division received a complaint from an Assistant Branch Manager about Mabry's mishandling of her religious accommodation request. See id. at ¶ 26. On March 27, 2012, the Associate Relations Division received yet another complaint about Mabry - this time from a Branch Manager who claimed that Mabry made inappropriate comments to her, such as: "I was just trying to be nice to you, I am not going to be nice anymore" and "[m]aybe if you leave the company, you will have twins." See id. at ¶ 27. Allegedly, the latter comment was made in reference to personal information Mabry knew about the Branch Manager's efforts to have children. See id. Then again, on July 5, 2012, the Associate Relations Division received another complaint from a Branch Manager, Latoya Williams, who claimed that Mabry told her that "she needs to be at work every day, no vacation, and no [Branch Manager]... salary increase." See id. at ¶ 28. Although Mabry disputes the relevance and merits of these complaints, she does not dispute that she was, in fact, the subject of these multiple complaints. See id. at ¶¶ 24-32. Ultimately, Swygert terminated Mabry from her position as District Manager on September 27, 2012. See id. at ¶ 39. A few months later, Swygert hired Mabry's replacement who, like Mabry, was an African-American. See id. at ¶ 48. As of May 2014, under the leadership of Mabry's replacement, the district Mabry formerly led was ranked 20th out of 62 districts company-wide in overall performance. See id. ; see also id. at ¶ 12.
Shortly after Mabry's termination, on December 30, 2012, Swygert terminated another low-performing Capital One District Manager, Conchita Lumpkins ("Lumpkins"), an Hispanic. See id. at ¶ 42. Lumpkins, like Mabry, was also not meeting her KPIs from May 2012 through August 2012. See id. at ¶ 42. Additionally, Lumpkins' district, like Mabry's, was ranked poorly (48th out of 67). See id. at ¶ 22.
On June 10, 2013, Mabry filed this action in the Circuit Court for Prince George's County, Maryland claiming that Capital One's decision to terminate her was the result of racial discrimination. See ECF No. 1. On July 17, 2013, Capital One removed that case to this Court. See id. Discovery is now complete and Capital One has filed a motion for summary judgment. See ECF No. 33. For the reasons discussed more fully below, Capital One's motion for summary judgment is granted.
II. STANDARD OF REVIEW
Summary judgment is proper if there are no issues of material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986); Francis v. Booz, Allen & Hamilton, Inc., 452 F.3d 299, 302 (4th Cir. 2006). A material fact is one that "might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law." Spriggs v. Diamond Auto Glass, 242 F.3d 179, 183 (4th Cir. 2001) (quoting A nderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986)). A dispute of material fact is only "genuine" if sufficient evidence favoring the non-moving party exists for the trier of fact to return a verdict for that party. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248-49. However, the nonmoving party "cannot create a genuine issue of material fact through mere speculation or the building of one inference upon another." Beale v. Hardy, 769 F.2d 213, 214 (4th Cir. 1986). The Court may only rely on facts supported in the record, not simply assertions in the pleadings, in order to fulfill its "affirmative obligation... to prevent factually unsupported claims or defenses' from proceeding to trial." Felty v. Grave-Humphreys Co., 818 F.2d 1126, 1128 (4th Cir. 1987) When ruling on a motion for summary judgment, "[t]he evidence of the non-movant is to be believed, and all justifiable inferences are to be drawn in his favor." Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255.
Title VII makes it illegal for an employer "to discharge any individual or otherwise to discriminate against any individual with respect to his compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, because of such individual's race...." 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2(a)(1). "A plaintiff generally may defeat summary judgment and establish a claim for race discrimination [under Title VII] through two avenues of proof." Holland v. Washington Homes, Inc., 487 F.3d 208, 213 (2007). One avenue is for the plaintiff to demonstrate "through direct or circumstantial evidence that his race was a motivating factor in the employer's adverse employment action." Id. (citing Hill v. Lockheed Martin Logistics Mgmt., Inc., 354 F.3d 277, 284 (4th Cir. 2004) ( en banc )). Alternatively, the plaintiff may proceed under the familiar burden-shifting framework laid out in McDonnell Douglas Corp. v. Green, 411 U.S. 792 (1973). Under this approach, the plaintiff has the initial burden of establishing a prima facie discrimination case by a preponderance of the evidence. See McDonnell Douglas, 411 U.S. at 802; see also Evans v. Technologies Applications & Service Co., 80 F.3d 954, 959 (4th Cir. 1996). If the plaintiff establishes a prima facie case, the burden of production shifts to the defendant to articulate some legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason for its actions. See Reeves v. Sanderson Plumbing Prods., Inc., 530 U.S. 133, 142 (2000). The plaintiff must then prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the legitimate reasons offered by the defendant are but a pretext for discrimination, thus creating an inference that the defendant acted with discriminatory intent. See id. at 143. If the plaintiff cannot produce evidence demonstrating the falsity of the defendant's proffered reasons, the defendant is entitled to summary judgment as a matter of law. See id. at 148. Here, Mabry has chosen to prove her case through the McDonnell Douglas burden-shifting framework. The Court will therefore proceed under that rubric.
A. Prima Facie Case
Mabry must demonstrate a prima facie case of race discrimination by showing that "(1) [s]he is a member of a protected class; (2) [s]he suffered [an] adverse employment action; (3) [s]he was performing [her] job duties at a level that met [her] employer's legitimate expectations at the time of the adverse employment action; and (4) the position remained open or was filled by similarly qualified applicants outside the protected class." Holland, 487 F.3d at 214 (citing McDonnell Douglas Corp., 411 U.S. at 802). For the reasons discussed below, Mabry has failed to establish her prima facie case because she cannot show ...