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Liegeois v. Johns Hopkins Medicine

United States District Court, D. Maryland

April 21, 2016



J. Frederick Motz, United States District Judge.

Plaintiff has brought this action alleging violations of Title VII, the Americans with Disabilities Act and 42 U.S.C. §1981. Defendants have filed a motion to dismiss. The motion will be granted.



Plaintiff was employed by Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine from November 3, 2003 until October 31, 2012. According to the allegations in the complaint, in 2008 her situation with the Hospital became troubled. In 2007 she had been on a search committee to select a qualified candidate for the position of Director of Johns Hopkins' Division of Dermatopathology in the Department of Dermatology. The search committee selected Jacqueline Jukins-Hopkins for the position. Jukins-Hopkins is African-American.

When Dr. Jukins-Hopkins was engaged in contract negotiations, Dr. Charles Cummings, the Medical Director for Johns Hopkins International, said in a staff meeting that Dr. Jukins- As a preliminary matter, claims against the Johns Hopkins University, whom plaintiff alleges was her employer, under Title VII and the ADA must be dismissed because there is no individual supervisor liability under either of these statutes. Lissau v. Southern Food Servs., Inc., 159 F.3d 177, 180 (4th Cir. 1998); Jones v. Sternheimer, 387 F.App'x 366, 368 (4th Cir. 2010). Hopkins was "playing games with her contract." In response, Manisha Patel, M.D., called Jukin-Hopkins a "bitch." After the staff meeting, plaintiff told Dr. Cummings that she objected to his comment about Dr. Junkins-Hopkins.

In another meeting Dr. Cummings referred to Dr. Jukins-Hopkins as "that black fucking bitch." As the result of his comments, other Hopkins employees began calling Dr. Jukins-Hopkins "that black fucking bitch, " and plaintiff who overheard a doctor comment to his colleague "Did you hear the Department of Dermatology finally hired someone. It's supposed to be some black fucking bitch. Wait till you see what we do to her." In 2008 Dr. Cummings approached the Chief Financial Officer of Hopkins, Richard Grossi and attempted to convince Mr. Grossi to block Dr. Junkins-Hopkins from being hired. Mr. Grossi informed Dr. Cummings that he could not block Dr. Junkins-Hopkins from being hired. Dr. Cummings told Dr. Rhoda Alani that Dr. Junkins-Hopkins got the job because she was a black woman, and he encouraged Dr. Alani to vocally protest hiring Dr. Junkins-Hopkins. Soon after, other Hopkins employees began to gossip that Dr. Junkins-Hopkins was only selected for Dermatopathology Director because of her race.

Dr. Junkins-Hopkins began employment at Hopkins in February 2008. In March 2008, Dr. Cummings was appointed interim Chair of the Department of Dermatology and became plaintiffs supervisor. He immediately began retaliating against plaintiff by denying her requests for essential staff and equipment. In addition, one of plaintiff s colleagues informed plaintiff that Dr. Cummings was "calling all the good old boys" to try to terminate plaintiff.

In March 2008 plaintiff met with Janice Clements, Ph.D., the Vice Dean for Faculty, and informed her that Dr. Junkins-Hopkins was being subjected to discriminatory treatment and that Dr. Cummings was creating false rumors about Dr. Junkins-Hopkins and telling staff that she was hired because she is a black woman. Plaintiff further said that Dr. Cummings got people to call Dr. Junkins-Hopkins "that black fucking bitch." Dr. Clements refused plaintiffs request to report the situation to the Dean, and when plaintiff offered to speak to the Dean herself, Dr. Clements told plaintiff that she would not be permitted to see the Dean.

Plaintiff suffered a neck injury and requested an internal ergonomics evaluation by the Safety Department in March 2008. The Department issued a report later that month recommending that Hopkins provide ergonomic accommodations to plaintiff. Plaintiff gave the Safety Department's recommendations to Dr. Cummings and Carolyn Ford, Administrator of Dermatology, in April 2008. Dr. Cummings and Ms. Ford refused to provide plaintiff with any accommodation. Throughout 2008 and early 2009, plaintiff regularly made numerous requests for the ergonomics accommodations and her requests were ignored.

In June 2008 plaintiff was forced to cancel surgical appointments with patients and stopped operating because she could not safely operate without a histotechnician qualified for Mohs surgery. After plaintiff sent this email, a rumor was propagated among Hopkins staff that plaintiff was emotionally unstable, inappropriate, difficult, and unreasonable.

In 2008 plaintiff was selected by Hopkins residents for a Teacher of the Year Award for Otolaryngology. The Department of Otolaryngology Residency Director, who was a close friend and mentee of Dr. Cummings, blocked her receipt of the award.

In August 2008 plaintiff told Dr. Clements that she needed to speak with her to discuss the retaliation and hostile work environment she was experiencing. Dr. Clements refused to speak to plaintiff. Plaintiff then sent Dr. Clements an email explaining how the situation in the Department of Dermatology was continuing to deteriorate and requesting Dr. Clements intervene. Plaintiffs requests for assistance were disregarded by Dr. Clements.

On September 1, 2008, Dr. Sewon Kang was hired as the Chairman of the Department of Dermatology. Dr. Kang is Korean American. The Dean assigned Dr. Cummings to facilitate Dr. Kang's ...

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