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Godbolt v. Trinity Protection Services, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Maryland, Southern Division

March 15, 2016

NAD1NE GODBOLT, Plaintiff,


George J. Hazel, United States District Judge

Plaintiff Nadine Godbolt brought claims against her former employer. Defendant Trinity Protection Services. Inc. ("Trinity''"), for sex/gender discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. 42 U.S.C. § 2000e el seq.. discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act of 2008. 42 U.S.C. § 12101 et seq, . unlawful termination in violation of Virginia state policy, and civil conspiracy. ECF No. 27. This Memorandum Opinion and accompanying address Defendant's Motion for Partial Dismissal of Plaintiff s Amended Complaint and Motion to Strike Redundant Claims. ECF Nos. 17 and 1 8. Plaintiff's Opposition, ECF Nos. 22 and 23, and Defendant's Reply. ECF No. 26. The Court finds that a hearing is unnecessary in this case. See Loc. R. 105.6 (D. Md. 2014). For the reasons set forth herein. Defendant's Motion to Strike Count II is granted, and Defendant's Motion for Partial Dismissal is granted as to Counts IV and V. and denied as to Count I.


Godbolt was employed by Trinity, a security services contracting corporation, as a Contract Security Officer from July 31. 2011. until her termination in July. 2012. ECP No. 27 at ¶ 8; ECF No. 23 at Ex. 8. Godbolt was initially supervised by Sabrina Currie. ECF No. 27 at 12. On several occasions between July 31, 2011, and October. 2011. Currie denied Godbolt's requests to work certain available shifts, and assigned those shifts to "newly hired" male officers who were less senior than Godbolt. ECF No. 27 at ¶ 13, 16, 18, Godbolt also alleges that Currie revoked another employee's pre-approved schedule change when she discovered that it was Godbolt who was scheduled to switch with him. and that, on September 23. 2011. Currie "became belligerent" about the requested switch, "chased Godbolt down to her car after she was off the clock and was on her way home, and threatened her with a weapon." hi. At ¶¶ 15, 16. Following that incident, in which Godbolt alleges that Currie "was in fact the aggressor, " Godbolt was transferred from her job post "as a punishment." hi. at ¶ 17. Weeks after her transfer, Godbolt was again transferred to a third job location "to accommodate another male officer whose post had closed." Id.

Godbolt further asserts that she was pressured by her new supervisors. Robert Burke and Mariam Haigler. "to change her time sheet log from a time different than her actual worked hours" on both March 23. 2012. and May 1. 2012. Id. at ¶19. When she refused to "falsify" her time card on March 23. 2012. Haigler and Burke "conspired and changed her time card by themselves and sought to have Godbolt sign off on the time card which they had already changed without Godbolf s consent." Id. at * 20, According to Godbolt. Burke also had another employee, Officer Bryant, change his time card to "falsely synchronize Godbolt"s forced sign out" on May 1, 2012. Id. at f 21. That same day. Godbolt wrote a letter to Trinity's Human Resources Director "to protest against the unlawful employment practice." Id. at ¶¶ 22. Godbolt contends that ""[i]nstead of addressing [her] complaints." the Human Resources Director "sided with their managers and Godbolt received adverse employment action by way of, . . one and only warning* which ultimately led to termination of her employment." Id. Also on May 1. 2012, Godbolt and other officers were accused of taking home, or failing to turn in. their "rover logs." Id. at ¶ 23. Despite denying this allegation. Godbolt was "intimidated and forced to write a statement admitting [it]." which resulted in her receiving a five-day suspension and ninety-day probation, "while the other officer [who had been accused of taking a rover log], a mate officer and native African . . . was let go without any form of punishment." Id.

Finally. Godbolt alleges that on July 9. 2012. she experienced an asthma attack while working for Trinity in a construction zone. Id. at ¶ 24. When Godbolt exhibited symptoms of distress, requested to take off her hat and use the bathroom, and "eventually requested relief and an ambulance." Haigler. Godbolt" s supervisor on the site, "made a semblance of recognition of Godbolt's need for medical attention ... yet she still wrote up Godbolt and recommended her termination from employment on the pretext that she was not wearing a hat." Id. at ¶ 25. Trinity then "terminat[ed] [Godbolt's] employment based on Haigler's recommendation." Id. at ¶ 27.


A. Trinity's Motion to Strike Count II

Count II of the Amended Complaint sets forth a claim for sex/gender discrimination in violation of Title VII. See 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2(a) ("It shall be an unlawful employment practice for an employer to . .. discriminate against any individual with respect to his compensation. terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, because of such individual's . . . sex ... or to limit, segregate, or classify his employees ... in any way which would deprive or tend to deprive any individual of employment opportunities or to otherwise adversely affect his status as an employee, because of such individual's . . . sex."). Count I sets forth a claim for "Disparate Treatment in Violation of 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2(a)(I)." Trinity argues that Count II should be stricken from the Amended Complaint as redundant. Because the Court concurs that these claims are duplicative. Count II will be stricken from the Amended Complaint.

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(f) permits courts to strike "any redundant, immaterial, impertinent, or scandalous matter" from any pleading. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(f)- While motions to strike are generally disfavored, see Schuhz v. Braga, 290 F.Supp.2d 637. 655-56 (D. Md. 2003). aff'd, 455 F.3d 470 (4th Cir. 2006), the Court may grant such motions in a proper exercise of its discretion and power over the litigation. See 5C Charles A. Wright & Alan M. Miller. Federal Practice & Procedure § 1380 (3d ed.).

Title VII's express language gives rise to two types of discrimination claims: (1) "disparate treatment." where a plaintiff alleges that his employer violated 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2(a)(1) by "4discriminat[ing] against [the plaintiff] with respect to his compensation, terms. conditions, or privileges of employment because of [the plaintiffs] race, color, religion, sex. or national origin." and (2) "disparate impact." where a plaintiff alleges that his employer violated 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2(a)(2) by "limiting], segregate[nig], or classifying] his employees ... in any way which would deprive or tend to deprive any individual of employment opportunities or otherwise adversely affect [the individual's] status as an employee, because of such individual's race, color, religion, sex, or national origin." See 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2(a)(1), (2); E.E. O. C. v. Abercrombie & Fitch Stores. Inc., 135 S.Ct. 2028. 2031-32 (2015) ("These two proscriptions [contained in 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2(a)(l) and (2)]. often referred to as the 'disparate treatment' provision and the 'disparate impact" provision, are the only causes of action under Title VII."). The crux of a disparate treatment claim is "whether a protected characteristic of the employee motivated the employment action taken by the employer." Barnett v. Tech. Inc. 7. Inc., 1 F.Supp.2d 572, 577 (E.D. Va. 1998) (citing Hazen Paper Co. v. Biggins, 507 U.S. 604. 610 (1993)). By contrast, the focus of a disparate impact claim is whether the plaintiff can show that a specific employment policy, although neutral on its face, is discriminatory in its application and is unrelated to any legitimate business purpose. Id. at 579 (citing Griggs v. Duke Power Co.. 401 U.S. 424, 431 (1971)).

In the instant case, the facts pled show that Godbolt's sex discrimination claim is based on disparate treatment. Godbolt alleges that she alone was punished when both she and other officers were "alleged to be in violation of certain company policies." and that, motivated by gender, she was "serial fly]" denied available work shifts in favor of more junior male employees. ECF No. 27 at ¶¶ 30-39. These allegations, and their supporting factual paragraphs, evince a clear intent on Godbolt's part to assert that her employer was intentionally discriminating against her by taking adverse employment actions against her and not against similarly situated male employees. In her Opposition to Trinity's Motion. Godbolt impliedly contends that her count for "sex discrimination'" is in fact a disparate impact claim by arguing that "Defendant's constant and intentional denial of available hours to the Plaintiff (a female) while giving same to male officers for no business related purpose was gender discrimination against the Plaintiff" ECF No. 23 at 12. However. Godbolt's Amended Complaint only alleges that her supervisor engaged in blatant and intentional discrimination in shift assignment, and fails to assert that the shift assignment policy was in any way neutral. In fact, she explicitly contends the opposite-that her supervisor acted in a facially discriminatory manner.

Moreover, even if Godbolt's Amended Complaint was somehow construed to state a disparate impact claim, such a claim would be procedurally barred because Godbolt's EEOC charge failed to allege disparate impact. See ECF No. 23-6: Banhi v. Papa John's USA. Inc.. No. RWT-12-665. 2013 WL 3788573. at *4 (D. Md. July 18. 2013), affd. 583 F.App'x 268 (4th Cir. 2014) ("The EEOC charge defines the scope of the plaintiffs right to institute a civil suit. If the claims raised under Title VII exceed the scope of the EEOC charge and any charges that would naturally have arisen from an investigation thereof, they are procedurally barred.") (quoting Bryant v. Bell Atl. Md. Inc.. 288 F.3d 124. 132 (4th Cir. 2002)). Given that Count I claims disparate ...

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