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Morgan v. City of Rockville

United States District Court, D. Maryland, Southern Division

March 4, 2015

CITY OF ROCKVILLE, MD, et al., Defendants.


GEORGE J. HAZEL, District Judge.

This is a race discrimination case brought by Courtney L. Morgan, an African American, against his former employer, the City of Rockville. Maryland (the "City"), and Susan Swift. Director of Community Planning and Development Services for the City, for purported violations of 42 U.S.C. § 1983. This Memorandum Opinion and accompanying Order address Defendants" Motion for Summary Judgment. ECF No. 48. A hearing is not necessary. See Loc. R. 105.6. For the reasons stated below, Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment is GRANTED. Morgan's Complaint is dismissed with prejudice.


Morgan posted his resume on a government jobs website and received a call from Susan Swift of the City of Rockville for an interview in April or May 2011. ECF No. 48-2 at 4. The first interview was a phone interview conducted by Swift and two other City employees. ECF No. 48-2 at 7. Swift then called Morgan to offer him a second round interview. Id. at 6. At that time. Swift informed Morgan of the salary range, job duties, and her expectations of the position. Id. at 10. Swift also participated in the second interview. Id. at 12. After the second interview. Swift and another City employee. Andy Gunning, went to lunch with Morgan. Id. at 13. During the lunch. Swift indicated to Morgan that the panel "pretty much came to a consensus for the recommendation... [a]nd that [Morgan] was most likely going to be the person that they supported bringing on board." Id. at 13.

On June 17, 2011. Swift sent a memorandum to Scott Ullery, the City Manager. She recommended hiring Morgan as the Chief of the Inspection Services Division. ECF No. 48-6. The yearly salary range for the position was approximately $71, 000 to $150.000. ECF No. 48-2 at 5. Swift proposed that Morgan's yearly salary be $95, 000. ECF No. 48-6. The salary was approved and Morgan was hired.[1] ECF No. 48-2 at 14.

According to Morgan's deposition testimony, at the beginning of his employment. Swift provided him with a PowerPoint presentation outlining her expectations of him. Id. at 15-16. She also set up weekly progress meetings for Morgan, where she was typically present. Id. at 16. Morgan testified that he was told the purpose of the meetings were to identify his "comfort level[, ] where [he] was with meeting with the other two supervisors[, ] and how things [were] progressing." Id at 17.

Matt Shanks and Robert Purkey, the fire marshal and supervisor of inspections respectively, were in positions directly below Morgan's. ECF No. 48-2 at 19. Morgan testified that he and these two individuals "had [their] differences." Id. at 19. He explained that he did not always agree with Shanks and Purkey on how to interpret the City Code. Id at 19-20. Morgan described one incident where two inspectors conducted a fire inspection; Morgan considered that as one inspection while Shanks and Purkey considered it as two inspections. Id. at 20.

Morgan testified that another employee, Miguel Moreno, who is Cuban, once complained that Purkey commented on Moreno's accent, saying that others could not understand Moreno. Id. at 22. Morgan reported the incident to Swift and spoke to Purkey. Id. at 23-24. Morgan did not document the incident but believed that, if the behavior continued, documentation would have been the next step. Id. at 23. Morgan said he later learned of other incidents invoking Purkey and Shanks. He described one incident where he was told Purkey and Shanks made comments about an African American's hair being "kinky" or "nappy." Id. at 22.

According to Morgan, Swift never expressed concern about his performance, although he did acknowledge that Swift expressed concern over the length of Morgan's "plan review process." Id. at 25-26. Swift asked Morgan to compare some of their processes with processes used in a different jurisdiction. Id. at 27. Morgan disagreed. Id. Morgan testified that Swift also had concerns about his ability to use the City's online permit system, Id. at 27-28. Morgan did not receive a three-month performance review. Id. at 31.

Regarding salary, according to the City's records, at the time Morgan was hired. Shanks' annual salary was $80, 000 and Purkey's was $83, 700. ECF No. 68-1. Division Chief Ronald Wasilak's salary was $125, 088.50 per year, and he was hired on September 9. 1996. ECF No. 68-1. Division Chief David Levy's salary was $117.952.85 per year, and he was hired on October 10, 2005. Id. [2] Wasilak and Levy are both Caucasian. Other than Morgan, all division chiefs[3] had been working for the City since at least 2007, and were earning between $100, 000 and $160, 000 yearly. Id.

Morgan asserts that, on February 1, 2012, he received his six-month evaluation and Swift failed him in "every conceivable performance category, " ECF No. 13 at ¶ 15. Morgan's review was provided to the Court. See ECF No. 69-1. It is dated February 9, 2012 and he received a successful rating in three categories, an acceptable rating in six categories, and an unsatisfactory rating in three categories. Id. Morgan also argues that he was terminated on or around February 6, 2012. ECF No. 68 at 4. However. Defendants have provided a termination letter dated March 1, 2012. stating that Morgan's termination date would be effective March 9, 2012. ECF No. 69-2. On February 29, 2012. Swift supplied a memorandum to the City's Manager and Human Resources Director informing them why Morgan was to be separated from employment during his probationary period. ECF No. 48-7. She wrote:

The following examples and attachments provide documentation of serious performance deficiencies for Mr. Courtney Morgan, as Chief of the Inspection Services Division. Upon his arrival. I provided him with a work program and my goals for him and his division. I explained that the division was very competent and operated well but that his job would be to take them (gradually) to the next level of improved technology and customer service.
I have coached him on ways to lead his team, gain their respect and become "an insider." I have provided advice and background on personnel and supervisory issues and have provided close supervision to help him manage assignment via one-on-one weekly meetings over the last 4 months. All of the following examples are from direct, personal interaction with me, his direct supervisor. Although Mr. Gunning has had less interaction and attended a few of the weekly meetings, some of these examples are supported or supplied by him. Unfortunately, no improvement in performance is evident, and as assignments have become more complex and more like projects than tasks, such as Chapter 5, performance and project management skills have not been acceptable.
As a result of these deficiencies and the fact that these include basic skills and knowledge of the Inspection Services Division Chief job description, he is being ...

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