United States District Court, D. Maryland
September 28, 2015.
[Copyrighted Material Omitted]
Tiffany Jones, Plaintiff: Charles Henry Edwards, IV, LEAD
ATTORNEY, Law Office of Barry R Glazer PC, Baltimore, MD.
Family Health Centers of Baltimore, Inc., Ricardo Dajani,
Defendants: Paul D Shelton, LEAD ATTORNEY, McKennon Shelton
and Henn LLP, Baltimore, MD; Paula J McGill, Law Office of
Paula J McGill, Washington, DC.
K. Bredar, United States District Judge.
Jones (" Plaintiff" ) brought this suit against
Family Health Centers of Baltimore, Inc. (" Family
Health" ) and Ricardo Dajani (collectively, "
Defendants" ). Against Family Health, Plaintiff alleged
sexual harassment in violation of Title VII of the Civil
Rights Act of 1964 (" Title VII" ), 42 U.S.C.
§ § 2000e et seq., as well as negligent
hiring, training, and retention under Maryland law. Against
both Defendants, Plaintiff alleged intentional infliction of
emotional distress (" IIED" ) and battery under
Maryland law. Now pending before the Court is Defendants'
Motion for Summary Judgment pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 56. (ECF No. 38.) The issues have been briefed (ECF
Nos. 38 and 42), and no hearing is required, Local Rule 105.6
(D. Md. 2014). For the reasons explained below,
Defendants' Motion will be GRANTED in part and DENIED in
was employed as a temporary medical records scanner at
Defendant Family Health from June 4, 2010, to April 27, 2011.
(ECF No. 42 at 6.) Plaintiff reported to Anita Savage, the
medical records lead; Savage reported to Norva Dancy-Gladden.
(ECF No. 38-3 at 4-5.) Dancy-Gladden reported directly to
Paula McLellan, the Chief Executive Officer (" CEO"
) of Family Health. ( Id. at 15.) During this same
period, Defendant Ricardo Dajani served as Chief Financial
Officer (" CFO" ) of Family Health. Although Dajani
oversaw all aspects of the organization's electronic
medical records system and " in this capacity dealt with
all departments," he claims to have had no supervisory
authority over Plaintiff. (ECF No. 38-4 at 3.)
alleges that, while she was employed at Family Health, Dajani
harassed her on numerous occasions. The first incident
occurred during a staff meeting. Plaintiff and a coworker had
stepped into the lunchroom for a bagel; Dajani apparently had
the same idea. (ECF No. 42 at 37.) Plaintiff and Dajani
simultaneously reached for a bagel, at which point Dajani
allegedly told Plaintiff that he " wouldn't mind . .
. taking [her] somewhere or taking [her] away or something
like that." ( Id. ) Plaintiff's coworker
remarked that Dajani " gave her the creeps," but
Plaintiff " didn't want to . . . make too much of a
big deal out of it at the time." ( Id. )
next incident occurred in an office hallway. Plaintiff and
Dajani were approaching one another, and Dajani allegedly
blocked Plaintiff's path. ( Id. at 38.) "
[E]very way I tried to get past," Plaintiff claims,
" he would . . . do this." ( Id. )
Plaintiff interpreted the incident as " a joke,"
and she " didn't find it . . . threatening or
anything like that." ( Id. ) Plaintiff did not
report the incident; however, from that point forward,
Plaintiff would ask one of her coworkers to accompany her on
trips to the restroom. ( Id. at 38-39.)
further alleges that, on some number of occasions, Dajani
would either enter the medical records workroom or "
look through the crack of the door." ( Id. at
40.) Uncomfortable, Plaintiff approached Savage, who gave
Plaintiff permission to lock the door when she was working by
herself. ( Id. ) According to Plaintiff, a coworker
noted that Dajani had only started monitoring the records
scanners after Plaintiff joined Family Health. ( Id.
) However, Plaintiff admits that Dajani had complained about
noise problems and productivity issues among the scanners. (
Id. at 41.) At some point after Plaintiff secured
permission to lock the door, the scanners were told to begin
logging their activities; thereafter, they were assigned
quotas. ( Id. )
final incident occurred on either April 11 or April 13, 2011.
( Id. at 62.) Dajani entered the medical records
workroom to inform the employees that free kittens were
available on the premises.
Plaintiff stepped outside to select a kitten. ( Id.
at 43.) On her way back, as she walked through the lunchroom
and toward a door that opened into the clinic's waiting
room, Plaintiff felt Dajani behind her: he " got up on
[her] so close, [she] felt his private parts on . . . [her]
buttocks." ( Id. at 44.) Plaintiff also felt
Dajani's hand on her waist. ( Id. at 51.) She
" felt so violated and disgusted and angry," she
" couldn't hold back [her] feelings." (
Id. at 44.) She claims that a coworker, Tammy
Simpson, observed the incident; that Simpson hugged her and
walked her to the workroom; and that Plaintiff "
couldn't stop crying." ( Id. ) Plaintiff
reported the incident to Savage, who allowed her to " go
home" and " get [her]self together." (
Id. at 45.)
next day, Savage allegedly urged Plaintiff to report the
doorway incident to McLellan. ( Id. ) Plaintiff
twice approached McLellan, but McLellan was in meetings and
was unavailable. ( Id. at 46-47.) Plaintiff
thereafter gathered her belongings and left Family Health:
she never returned. ( Id. at 47.) Plaintiff never
filed a report or met with upper management to discuss the
doorway incident, although she admits that Dancy-Gladden
called her several days later and asked for a meeting. (
Id. at 48.) Savage avers that she also attempted to
set up a meeting between Plaintiff and Dancy-Gladden, but the
meeting never took place. (ECF No. 38-3 at 13.) Although
Family Health stated in an interrogatory that it was "
not able to conduct an investigation because Plaintiff
refused to return to work and provide any details" (ECF
No. 38-2 at 3), it appears that the organization did attempt
at least an initial inquiry: Jorge Lopez discussed the
doorway incident with Simpson (ECF No. 38-3 at 14), and
Dajani " spoke with and prepared a response to . . .
Lopez regarding the allegations" (ECF No. 38-4 at 2).
Dajani avers that he " did not discriminate or harass
the Plaintiff." ( Id. )
her " whole experience" at Family Health, Plaintiff
claims to have suffered depression, and she alleges that she
was on medication for some time. (ECF No. 42 at 53-55.)
Plaintiff acknowledges, however, that she experienced a
series of hardships in and around 2011, including the violent
death of her aunt and shakeups in her living
situation. In either 2011 or 2012, Plaintiff took
a job at Baltimore City Child Support; however, she soon left
that position as she was " going through a lot with this
case and . . . [her] son and it was just too much." (
Id. at 58-59.) In mid-2013, Plaintiff began
providing childcare in her home. ( Id. at 60.)
filed a charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity
Commission, alleging that Dajani's conduct constituted
unlawful discrimination. She then filed this action on March
12, 2014, stating claims against both Family Health and
Dajani. (ECF No. 1.) Defendants jointly moved for summary
judgment on March
23, 2015 (ECF No. 38), and Plaintiff responded on April 24,
2015 (ECF No. 42).
Standard for Summary Judgment
The court shall grant summary judgment 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); Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477
U.S. 317, 322, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986) (citing
predecessor to current Rule 56(a)). No genuine issue of
material fact exists if the opposing party fails to make a
sufficient showing on an essential element of her case as to
which she would have the burden of proof. Celotex
Corp., 477 U.S. at 322-23. The " mere existence of
a scintilla of evidence in support of the [opposing
party's] position" is insufficient to defeat a
motion for summary judgment. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby,
Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 252, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 91 L.Ed.2d 202
(1986). As the Fourth Circuit has recognized, district courts
have an " affirmative obligation . . . to prevent
'factually unsupported claims [or] defenses' from
proceeding to trial." Felty v. Graves-Humphreys
Co., 818 F.2d 1126, 1128 (4th Cir. 1987) (quoting
Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323-24).
facts themselves, and the inferences to be drawn therefrom,
must be viewed in the light most favorable to the party
opposing summary judgment. Scott v. Harris, 550 U.S.
372, 378, 127 S.Ct. 1769, 167 L.Ed.2d 686 (2007); Iko v.
Shreve, 535 F.3d 225, 230 (4th Cir. 2008). Even so, the
opponent may not rest upon the mere allegations or denials of
her pleading but must instead, by affidavit or other
evidentiary showing, set out specific facts showing a genuine
dispute for trial. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1). Supporting and
opposing affidavits must be made on personal knowledge with
such facts as would be admissible in evidence and must
affirmatively show the competence of the affiant to testify
to the matters stated therein. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(4).