United States District Court, D. Maryland
WILLIAM M. NICKERSON, Senior District Judge.
Before the Court is Defendant's Motion to Dismiss, or in the alternative, for Summary Judgment. ECF No. 8. The motion is ripe. Upon a review of the pleadings and the applicable case law, the Court determines that no hearing is necessary, Local Rule 105.6, and that Defendant will be granted summary judgment as to Counts I and II, and Count III will be dismissed.
I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
Plaintiff Iesha Dickerson brings this action against her employer, Defendant United Parcel Service, Inc., asserting three claims of discrimination: gender discrimination in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII), 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. (Count I), pregnancy discrimination pursuant to the Pregnancy Discrimination Act as part of Title VII, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e(k) (Count II), and a violation of § 20-609 of the State Government Article of the Maryland Code, requiring reasonable accommodations for disabilities due to pregnancy (Count III). Defendant has moved to dismiss, or in the alternative, for summary judgment, on the grounds that Plaintiff failed to file timely for either her Title VII or Maryland law claims. Further, Defendant asserts that Plaintiff's Maryland law claim is based on a version of Section 20-609 not yet in existence at the time of the alleged discrimination.
Plaintiff was hired by Defendant in a part-time position in 2003, and achieved fulltime status in 2007. She is currently employed by Defendant as a Driver. In May of 2013, Plaintiff informed Defendant that she was pregnant, and provided Defendant with her physician's requirements, including that she was restricted from lifting more than twenty pounds. Defendant allegedly informed Plaintiff "if she couldn't do her job, she should go out on disability, or bid on a part-time position." Am. Compl. ¶ 46. In June of 2013, Plaintiff suffered a miscarriage, which she attributes to Defendant's failure to accommodate her restrictions.
Plaintiff subsequently filed a charge of discrimination with the EEOC on November 12, 2013. Decl. of Spencer Lewis, Ex. C., ECF No. 8-3 at 10-11. In her charge, in addition to her claim of discrimination based on pregnancy, Dickerson included claims of gender discrimination consisting of "unequal assignment of routes, denial of certain overtime hours, and more scrutiny in the performance of duties as compared to similarly situation male Drivers." Id . In her Charge, which Plaintiff signed under penalty of perjury, she listed her address as "2407 Tieonest Road, Baltimore, MD 21227." Id.
On June 27, 2014, the EEOC mailed a Letter of Dismissal and a Dismissal and Notice of Right to Sue to Plaintiff at 2407 Tieonest Road, Baltimore, MD 21227. Lewis Decl., Ex. A, ECF No. 8-3 at 4-5. Both the letter and notice informed Dickerson she had within ninety days of receipt to file a lawsuit. Id . The mailing was returned to the EEOC on July 3, 2014, and was marked "return to sender, insufficient address, unable to forward." Id. at 8. Thus, Plaintiff never received this mailing.
On October 1, 2014, Plaintiff spoke with James Norris, an EEOC investigator, to discuss the status of her Charge. Norris Decl. ¶ 4, ECF No. 8-4, Dickerson Decl. ¶¶ 5, 12, ECF No. 12-4. Norris informed Plaintiff that the EEOC had dismissed her Charge and had issued a Dismissal and Notice of Right to Sue in June. Norris Decl. ¶ 4. During this meeting, Plaintiff provided, for the first time, an address different than the one she had previously supplied. Id . ¶ 11. The EEOC re-sent the original Dismissal and Notice of Right to Sue to that new address on October 2, 2014. Norris Decl., Ex. A. Plaintiff filed a complaint in this Court on January 2, 2015.
II. LEGAL STANDARDS
The correct standard under which to analyze a motion to dismiss asks whether a plaintiff's complaint includes sufficient factual allegations to plausibly suggest that the pleader is entitled to relief. Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555-57 (2007). The plausibility standard is not a probability requirement. Id. at 556. A judge will assume a complaint's factual allegations are true, even if "proof of those facts is improbable." Id . Even so, "[f]actual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level;" "a complaint requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do." Id. at 555. From the complaint, the court must be able "to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009); see also Francis v. Giacomelli, 588 F.3d 186, 193 (4th Cir. 2009).
A motion to dismiss may be converted to a motion for summary judgment if the court has considered matters outside the pleadings. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(d). It is within the court's discretion to convert the motion; "[t]his discretion, however, should be exercised with great caution and attention to the parties' procedural rights.'" McCleary-Evans v. Maryland Dep't of Transp., Civ. No. ELH-12-1550, 2015 WL 1285325, at *1 (D. Md. Mar. 20, 2015) (quoting 5C Wright & Miller, Federal Practice and Procedure § 1366, at 159 (3d ed. 2004, 2011 Supp.)). The court's discretion is "guided by whether consideration of extraneous material is likely to facilitate the disposition of the action, ' and whether discovery prior to the utilization of the summary judgment procedure' is necessary." Id . "A non-moving party's request for additional discovery [may be denied] where the additional evidence sought for discovery would not have by itself created a genuine issue of material fact sufficient to defeat summary judgment.'" Id. at 15 (quoting Strag v. Bd. of Trs., Craven Cmty. Coll., 55 F.3d 943, 954 (4th Cir. 1995)). A court may convert only part of the motion to dismiss into one for summary judgment. McCleary-Evans, 2015 WL 1285325, at *1.
Summary judgment is appropriate "if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). This standard requires there be no "sufficient evidence favoring the nonmoving party for a jury to return a verdict for that party." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 249 (1986). The mere existence of a scintilla of evidence in support of the plaintiff's position will be insufficient. Id. at 252. Likewise, "[f]actual disputes that are irrelevant or unnecessary will not be counted." Id. at 248.
A. Title VII ...