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Booth v. County Executive

United States District Court, D. Maryland

May 11, 2016

KEITH BOOTH, Plaintiff,
v.
COUNTY EXECUTIVE, ISIAH LEGGETT, MONTGOMERY COUNTY, MARYLAND, DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES and DALE SCHACHERER, Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

Theodore D. Chuang Judge

Plaintiff Keith Booth filed suit against Defendants Montgomery County Executive, Isiah Leggett; Montgomery County, Maryland (the "County"); Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services (the "Department" or "DHHS"), and Dale Schacherer (collectively, "Defendants"), alleging employment discrimination, hostile work environment, retaliation, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Pending before the Court is Defendants' Motion to Dismiss. The Motion is fully briefed and ripe for disposition. No hearing is necessary to resolve the issues. See D. Md. Local R. 105.6. For the reasons set forth below, the Motion is GRANTED.

BACKGROUND

The following facts are presented in the light most favorable to Booth, the nonmoving party:

I. Alleged Discrimination and Retaliation

Booth, who is African American, has been a social worker for the Department since 2006. Until August 20, 2014, Schacherer served as Booth's supervisor. In May 2008, Booth complained first to the DHHS Director of Communicable Disease and Epidemiology that Schacherer had not provided Booth with an annual evaluation and had refused to sign a form that Booth needed for his social worker's license, then reported to the Montgomery County Equal Employment Opportunity Office ("EEO Office") that he believed he faced bias and prejudice at work. Schacherer responded with "increasing hostility and discriminatory practices." Compl. ¶ 21. Booth again contacted the EEO Office with his concerns. He also emailed the DHHS Director to complain about Schacherer's "continuing refusal to grant him an annual evaluation and the environment of fear of vindication and retaliation created by his superiors." Id. ¶ 22. Schacherer responded by ignoring Booth, refusing to give him assignments, and telling employees to stay away from Booth.

On October 14, 2008, Booth sent an email and left a voice message informing Schacherer that Booth would miss the following day of work because he had been selected for jury duty. When Booth returned to the office on October 16, 2008, Schacherer told him that he would not be paid for the missed day of work. The Department then attempted to suspend Booth for three days without pay, but Booth filed a successful union grievance which resulted in the suspension being overturned before it went into effect. Following Booth's successful grievance, Schacherer "became more hostile, retaliatory and discriminatory towards Booth." Id. ¶ 40. During this period Booth "began to suffer from anxiety, irregular heartbeats, heart racing, insomnia, headaches and body pain related to the hostile work environment created by his supervisors." Id. ¶ 36. He contacted a physician on two occasions to discuss his symptoms.

Booth alleges that Schacherer's behavior continued for six years following Booth's successful grievance, though the Complaint describes no specific incidents between 2009 and 2013. In March 2014, Schacherer resisted providing Booth with an individual supervision session required by the Maryland Board of Social Work Examiners, though he eventually relented. He also initially refused, but ultimately agreed, to sign forms Booth needed to submit to the Board of Social Work Examiners. Schacherer, however, made mistakes on the form, "thereby impeding and hindering Booth's opportunity to submit his application in a timely manner." Id. ¶ 45. Schacherer also had a "habit of using every opportunity to humiliate and make fun of Booth in the presence of his colleagues" and of "ignoring, isolating and not speaking to Booth directly on work related issues." Id. ¶¶ 47-48. During two meetings in 2014, Schacherer "talked down at Booth in a calculated effort to disgrace and humiliate him before his colleagues." Id. ¶ 46. After Schacherer was promoted in August of 2014, his successor continued to harass Booth at Schacherer's behest.

II. Procedural History

On or about April 20, 2015, Booth filed a charge of discrimination, harassment, retaliation, and intentional infliction of emotional distress ("IIED") with the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). On April 30, 2015, the EEOC issued Booth a right-to-sue letter. On July 15, 2015, Booth provided the County with notice of his intent to sue Leggett as required by the Local Government Tort Claims Act, Md. Code Ann., Cts. & Jud. Proc. § 5-304 (2013). On July 29, 2015, Booth filed a four-count complaint, alleging disparate treatment, hostile work environment, and retaliation under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ("Title VII"), 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e-2000e-17 (2012), and intentional infliction of emotional distress. On September 1, 2015, Defendants filed a Motion to Dismiss. On October 12, 2015, Booth filed a Response to the Motion. On October 26, 2015, Defendants filed a Reply.

DISCUSSION

Defendants seek dismissal under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) based on their arguments that (1) the Department and Leggett are not proper defendants; (2) Booth's claims are time-barred; and (3) Booth has failed to state a claim upon which relief can be granted in any of the counts. For the reasons set forth below, the Motion is granted.

I. Legal Standard

To defeat a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), the complaint must allege enough facts to state a plausible claim for relief. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). A claim is plausible when the facts pleaded allow "the Court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Id. Legal conclusions or conclusory statements do not suffice. Id. The Court must examine the complaint as a whole, consider the factual allegations in the complaint as true, and construe the factual allegations in the light most ...


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