United States District Court, D. Maryland, Northern Division
MAXINE J. TAYLOR, Plaintiff,
ANNE ARUNDEL COUNTY, MARYLAND, et al., Defendants.
WILLIAM D. QUARLES, Jr., District Judge.
Maxine J. Taylor sued Anne Arundel County, Maryland (the "County") and Michael Borgese for employment discrimination, in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ("Title VII"),  and other claims. On September 15, 2013, the Court granted Borgese's motion to dismiss. Pending is the County's motion for summary judgment. No hearing is necessary. See Local Rule 105.6 (D. Md. 2011). For the following reasons, the motion will be granted.
In 2005, Taylor - an African American woman - began working for the Anne Arundel County Department of Detention Facilities as a Corrections Officer ("CO"). ECF No. 25-2 (hereinafter "Kokolis Aff.") at ¶ 2. When Taylor began working for the County, she was given a copy of the County's "Non-Discrimination and Non-Harassment in Employment Policy." Id. at ¶ 3. The policy stated:
All reported or suspected occurrences of forbidden harassment will be promptly and thoroughly investigated. Where forbidden harassment or discrimination has occurred, Anne Arundel County will take appropriate disciplinary action, including, without limitation, suspension or termination.
This policy prohibits any retaliation against any employee raising a complaint or providing information concerning an alleged violation of this policy.
ECF No. 25-2 at 4. The policy also detailed the procedure for reporting a violation and the steps of the investigation. See id. at 5-8.
In 2006, Taylor received a letter of reprimand for filing a false report. ECF No. 28-13. In 2009 and 2010, Taylor received satisfactory performance evaluations. ECF No. 28-16 at 2. Between 2010 and 2011, Taylor was assigned to the Ordnance Road Correctional Center ("ORCC"). Kokolis Aff. at ¶ 2.
A. Taylor's Interactions with Capt. Borgese
At ORCC, Capt. Michael Borgese "was not  Taylor's immediate supervisor but was in her chain of command." Kokolis Aff. at ¶ 5. Some time in November 2010, Taylor had a package sent to her at ORCC. Taylor Dep. at 281:1-282:18. Employees at ORCC are discouraged from having personal mail sent to the facility, and are informed that their packages are subject to search. ECF No. 28-16 at 1. Borgese intercepted and opened the package. Taylor Dep. at 281:1-282:18. The package was sent from a business address, but was from Taylor's partner. Id. After intercepting the package, Borgese read Taylor's personal emails,  and learned that Taylor was lesbian. Id.
After the package incident,  Borgese asked Taylor to lunch in the cafeteria. Taylor Dep. at 240:3-14. On another occasion, Borgese sat down at the table where Taylor was eating lunch and started a "general conversation." Taylor Dep. 240:18-242:3. Borgese asked what Taylor did for the weekend, and they "began talking about fitness." Id. For example, Borgese "gave [Taylor] some insight" on the health effects of vinegar. Id. Taylor thought it was "a little bit out of the norm" for them "to have a conversation based on what [she] did for the weekend, " but did not think the conversation was improper, and was not uncomfortable. Id.
On another occasion, Taylor was having a conversation about tattoos and body art with another CO in the control center. Taylor Dep. at 242:10-243:19. Borgese walked by during the conversation. Id. Later that day, Borgese and Taylor had a conversation about tattoos, and Borgese told her that he knew a good tattoo artist. Id. Taylor did not think the conversation was wrong or improper "at that time." Id.
At another time, Taylor was again discussing tattoos with another CO as Borgese passed. Taylor Dep. 244:4-246:10. Borgese called Taylor into his office. Id. He gave her the name and address of the tattoo artist he had mentioned before, and pulled up his pant leg to show Taylor his tattoo. Id. Borgese offered to take Taylor to the artist later if she wished. Id. Taylor did not feel uncomfortable during the conversation. Id.
Also in November or December 2010, Cpl. Holly Whittington - another ORCC employee and Borgese's girlfriend - approached Taylor. Taylor Dep. 247:21-248:20. Whittington told Taylor that Borgese "wanted her to show [Taylor] her tattoo." Id. Whittington showed Taylor the tattoo on her lower back. Id.
Prior to January 2011, Borgese asked Taylor to talk to Whittington about how Taylor liked the fitness routine P90x. Taylor Dep. at 250:1-251:15. When Taylor talked to Whittington, she "chuckled in a sort of  flirty way, " and said that Borgese liked her "hot and wet." Id. Taylor now asserts that there was an "underlying message" in this conversation, but she does not know what it was. Id.
In late November or early December 2010, Borgese told Taylor that he was going to change her shift. Compl. at ¶ 15. Taylor objected and Borgese said, "maybe we can work something out." Id. at ¶ 16. He then let Taylor choose her own shift. Id. In December 2010, Taylor applied for a promotion to corporal. ECF No. 28-16 at 2.
On December 28, 2010, Borgese approached Taylor and asked her to talk to Whittington. Taylor Dep. at 258:6-259:16. Borgese wanted Taylor to convince Whittington that she should dress up in a blue suit like the female character in the movie Avatar. Id. Taylor sent Whittington an email, and the following email exchange occurred:
Taylor: I think and was told the BLUE SUIT' like the female in the movie AVATAR' would look AMAZING on you...lol... Me personally, I think it would be STUNNING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! LOL...have a wonderful New Years...I think that will be my wedding gift to you'll...yea...the BLUE SUIT' LMBO!
Whittington: lol...He is soooooo dumb. It would make his day if I were to wear that suit for him. The two of you are soooooo funny. You have a wonderful New Years too...
Borgese: [I] would much prefer body paint on her instead of the suit, but I want the tail attached somehow....
Taylor: sexy!!!!!!!!!!!!! That's HOTTTTTTTTTTTTTT! LOL ECF No. 25-1 at 31.
On December 29, 2010, when Taylor passed Borgese's office, he called her inside. Taylor Dep. at 262:3-263:19. Because she was feeling uncomfortable, Taylor's "face was a bit contorted" when she entered the office. Id. After seeing Taylor's face, Borgese immediately gave her a hug. Id. Taylor pushed Borgese back and asked him what he was doing. Id. Borgese did not respond, and Taylor left the office. Id.
Later that day, Taylor talked to Officer Miller about the incident. Taylor Dep. 264:6-265:21. Miller said that Borgese had "been harassing her too." Id. Specifically, Borgese would comment on her attire, and buttoning her shirt. Id. Taylor also talked to Corporal Philip Curley about the hug, but she could not remember when she did so. Id. Taylor never reported the hug to her superiors, and never filed a complaint about any of her interactions with Borgese. Taylor Dep. at 254:6-13. Taylor did not have any personal contact with Borgese after December 29, 2010. Taylor Dep. at 270:7-10.
B. January 2011 Incidents and Investigation
In January 2011, "an inmate complain[ed] that other inmates were exchanging commissary items, which is prohibited, and that this activity was permitted by Officer Taylor and other officers." ECF No. 25-2 at 23. The subsequent investigation, conducted by Lt. Earl Ahmay, led ORCC management to conclude that Taylor had facilitated a relationship between inmates Kimberly Morgan and Elizabeth Snyder. ECF No. 25-2 at 11-14.
1. January 7th Incident
Video surveillance of January 7, 2011 showed Snyder leaving the C-1 housing unit with the permission of Officer Nance. ECF No. 25-2 at 23. Officer Nance "told management that Officer Taylor sent an email requesting to see  Snyder on her post." Id. Taylor let Snyder into the C-4 housing unit. Id. Morgan, who was housed in the unit, joined Snyder and Taylor at the security desk. Id.
The three remained at the security desk for 14 minutes. Id. During that time, the video shows Taylor covering the intercom speaker that connected to central control with her hand. Id. The County "contends she did [this] to prevent other officers at the Control post from hearing the conversation." Id.
"The video also show[ed] contraband being passed from  Morgan to  Snyder above the podium ledge and  Snyder placing what appears to be a note in her breast pocket." Id. Snyder and Morgan leave the video frame for two minutes when Morgan walks Snyder to the housing unit door. Id. Taylor did not search Snyder when she entered or left the unit. Id. When Snyder returned to her unit, she was searched by another officer, but no contraband was discovered. ECF No. 28-10 (hereinafter "Borgese Dep.") at 167:15-168:10.
2. January 10th Incident
On January 10, 2011, Taylor was assigned to the C-1 unit, and Corporal Watkins was assigned to the C-4 unit. ECF No. 25-2 at 24. Video surveillance showed Taylor walking to the door of the C-1 unit with Snyder. Id. At that time, Morgan walked to the door of the C-4 housing unit. Id. The doors "lead to the Core, which is the central hallway leading to each of the four housing units. Id. The Core did not have a video camera. Id. Officer Watkins had not given Morgan permission to leave the unit, and he said that he had left the door locked. Id.
After entering the Core, Morgan, Snyder, and Taylor were out of frame for 16 minutes. Id. After 16 minutes, the video showed Taylor and Snyder reentering C-1 as Morgan returned to C-4. Id. Watkins discovered Morgan reentering the unit, and asked her where she had been unescorted. Id. Morgan responded that "Taylor called her into the Core." Id.
"Additional video footage from January 10, 2011 taken from the upper level day rooms of C-1 and C-4" showed "Taylor... removing  Morgan from her unit and then the two inmates and  Taylor are seen standing by ...