Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Kling v. Montgomery County

United States District Court, D. Maryland, Southern Division

July 20, 2016

BLANCA KLING, Plaintiff,
v.
MONTGOMERY COUNTY, MARYLAND Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          Paul W. Grimm United States District Judge.

         Plaintiff Blanca Kling is employed as the Hispanic Liaison for the Montgomery County Police Department (“Montgomery Police”), a subdivision of Defendant Montgomery County, Maryland (“Montgomery County”). She has brought two claims against Montgomery County under the Equal Pay Act of 1963, as amended, 29 U.S.C. § 206(d) (the “EPA”), and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2 (“Title VII”), alleging that she is paid less for equal work than a male counterpart. Montgomery County has filed a motion to dismiss on the grounds that (1) this Court lacks jurisdiction to hear Kling’s claims because she did not exhaust her administrative remedies and (2) she has failed to state a claim. See Def.’s Mot., ECF No. 14.[1] Because Kling has exhausted her administrative remedies, Montgomery County’s motion to dismiss under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1) will be denied. Because Kling has pleaded facts sufficient to support her EPA claim, I will deny Montgomery County’s motion to dismiss with respect to this claim. However, because Kling has failed to plead any connection between her sex and her unequal pay allegations, I will grant Montgomery County’s motion to dismiss with respect to her Title VII claim.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Kling filed her complaint on September 22, 2015, see Compl., ECF No. 1., and amended her complaint on January 4, 2016, see Am. Compl., ECF No. 13. Kling started work in her current position as the Hispanic Liaison for Montgomery Police approximately eight years ago. Id. ¶ 6-7. At the time she was transferred from the 4th District of Montgomery Police, she was a “Client Assistant Specialist (Grade 20) at District 4 level. In that new position (which was not previously classified), she served in her current position as a Client Assistant Specialist.” Id. “This position was never formally established, and Ms. Kling kept her position description for a Client Assistant Specialist Grade 20.” Id. ¶ 24. On May 7, 2013, “Kling was wrongfully downgraded from a Client Assistant Special to a Program Specialist I (Grade 18).” Id. ¶ 9. This downgrade is impending but not yet active. See Id. ¶ 14; Def.’s Mot. 3[2]

         Kling states that her “work is more similar to the work performed by Luis Martinez in the County Department of Health and Human Services than the work performed by a Program Specialist I. Mr. Martinez is classified as Grade 25, and, like Ms. Kling, is the Hispanic liaison for his department.” Am. Compl. ¶ 11. Kling states that the salary range for a Grade 20 position starts at $47, 867 with a maximum of $79, 081 and the salary range for a Grade 25 position starts at $60, 371 with a maximum of $100, 150. Id. ¶ 13.

         Kling’s work as the Hispanic community liaison falls into six categories: (1) spokesperson and media communication; (2) advisory role with community feedback; (3) community outreach; (4) victim assistance; (5) partnership with other county departments and agencies; and (6) assistance with police investigations. See Id. at ¶ 31. In her amended complaint, Kling compares her duties and responsibilities to Martinez’s in considerable detail:

Blanca Kling’s Responsibilities

Luis Martinez’s Responsibilities

Conducts effective outreach by employing a variety of means to achieve goal of getting message across to the Hispanic community. This includes:

• disseminating information about police programs to the Hispanic community;

• serving as the Police Department spokesperson to the Hispanic media outlets;

• promoting Police Department enforcement campaigns to the media;

• coordinating and planning press conferences;

• arranging interviews between the Police Department and the media;

• producing radio and television programs to bring information to the community about different Police Department services and other community issues;

• representing the Police Department on committees and before the public;

• attending meetings hosted by the school system, faith based organizations, and other groups to speak about issues like internet safety, using 9-1-1, and bullying; and

• building trusting partnerships with the Hispanic community so information on crimes may be given anonymously or confidentially.

Conducts effective outreach by employing alternative as well as traditional methods to achieve goal of getting message across to widest audience. This may include:

• presenting information on DHHS services to ethnic minorities;

• providing support to most service areas for the reproduction and review of materials in multilingual format;

• coordinating DHHS’s presence at health fairs and events to which DHHS is invited;

• assisting with a presentation to a foreign delegation;

• organizing special workshops, presentations, or seminars to outreach to community;

• participating in forums and public conversations dealing with diversity issues; and

• responding to radio and television invitations to bring information to the community about different DHHS services.

Ensures that the outreach strategies contribute to the Department’s goals, and adapts these strategies to meet the new and changing needs of the Police Department. Coaches Police Officers to be interview in TV, print and radio stations

Reviews the Department’s Outreach Plan to analyze and makes adjustments to reflect most updated departmental goals. This includes:

• updating the DHHS’s performance measures;

• following and adapting the Outreach Plan; and

• working with the Office of Planning, Accountability, and Customer Services to analyze how to best measure the impact of DHHS’s outreach.

Promotes Police Department enforcement campaigns to the Hispanic media, and works with various County agencies to promote their different events and activities. Advertises and encourages participation in these events via radio, television, and print media.

Maintains an updated online DHHS Calendar of Events as a way to share outreach opportunities internally as well as with other county counterparts.

Works with and assist officers in the Police Department, including the Chief, to arrange interviews with the Hispanic media, including to understand police roles and current information.

Organization and implementation of internal cross training for DHHS employees who regularly do outreach in the community, in order to help employees whose major responsibilities is outreach to better understand the wide spectrum of program and services available to county residents.

Ensures Police Department representation and active participation on well-established network and coalition groups to promote information sharing between the Police Department and the Hispanic community. This includes:

• disseminating information about police programs that benefits the relationship between the Hispanic community and Police Department, such as the recruitment of police officers, the Police Ride-Along Program, and the Police Explorer Program;

• working with department and agency representatives to plan programs, services, and events for the Hispanic community on behalf of the Department;

• working with the Hispanic Liaison for the County Executive and the Office of the County Public Information Office to disseminate information about a new Violent Crime Law;

• attending meetings hosted by the school system, faith based organizations, and the Literacy Council of Montgomery County, and many other groups to speak about issues like bullying, domestic violence, and gangs;

• creating the monthly agenda for the Chief of Police for his Latino Liaison Committee; and

• constantly communicating with leaders who attend the Latino Liaison Committee meetings.

Ensures DHHS representation and active participation on well-established network and coalition groups to promote information sharing amongst provider communities. This includes:

• regularly attending meetings of provider coalitions, such as the Upcounty Latino Network, School and Community United in Partnership, and Community Outreach Forum, to facilitate two-way sharing of information; and

• disseminating information via email to community networks and internet postings.

Creates, plans, and produces Hispanic educational radio and television program and public service announcements. Createsinformational materials for print and broadcast media, departments, and agencies. Trains and coaches officers attending radio and TV interview.

Research and develop user-friendly outreach materials and resources to meet the needs of an increasingly diverse constituency. This includes:

producing and distributing the “Guides to Community Services” in four languages; distributing existing multilingual materials at different events; and assisting in translating and reviewing new outreach materials.

Utilizes bilingual and bicultural skills to assist in all aspects of linguistic and cultural competency initiatives undertaken by the Police Department. This includes:

• assisting officers and detectives in their investigations because of the language barrier and difficulty obtaining cooperation from Hispanic victims;

• assisting detectives with an investigation of an Immigration scam targeting undocumented, Hispanic victims, and a loan and mortgage scam involving 20 Hispanic victims;

• responding to requests for information from all media sources;

• coordinating publicity for Hispanic press conferences and special events; and

• disseminating information to viewers via radio and television programs.

Utilize bilingual and bicultural skills to assist in all aspects of linguistic and cultural competency initiatives undertaken by the Office and the Department. This may include:

• assisting with translating and reviewing documents in Spanish, or finding translators;

• assisting with interpretation services for a case or when speaking to a client;

• organizing seminars and presentations for Spanish-speaking citizens;

• finding reviewers in other languages for already-translated documents; and

• attending county and regional meetings related to linguistic access policies.

Performs other assignments and duties as requested by the supervisor to meet the strategic goals and objectives of the Police Department. This includes:

• encouraging transparency of the Department by arranging interviews for the Hispanic media with the Chief of Police, members of the Command Staff, and other officers;

• providing assistance to victims of crime in the Hispanic community and referring them to appropriate resources;

• organizing and coordinating press conferences to ask for the public’s help in solving certain crimes; and

• relaying information being discussed in the Hispanic community to the Chief and Department personnel that may hinder the Department’s mission with the community; and

• reaching out to the community to calm their fears regarding new laws, such as a Violent Crime Law and the “Secure Communities” program.

Perform other assignments and duties as requested by the supervisor to meet the strategic goals and objectives outlined by the office and the department. This includes:

• acting as contract monitor for CASA bilingual medical hotline;

• being involved in department-wide initiatives; and

• always being available, cooperative, flexible and responsive to requests for support from supervisor.

Id. ¶ 47.[3] Based on this comparison, Kling alleges that “Ms. Kling and Mr. Martinez hold jobs that require equal skill, effort, and responsibility”, id. ¶ 63, and that their “jobs are performed under similar working conditions, id. ¶ 64.

         Kling further alleges that “Plaintiff has exhausted any and all administrative remedies, including filing a charge of discrimination with the [Equal Opportunity Employment Commission (“EEOC”)] before filing suit. The EEOC issued and mailed a right to sue letter on June 23, 2015.” Id. ¶ 5.

         II. DISCUSSION

         A. Standard

         1. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1)

         “‘[F]ederal courts lack subject matter jurisdiction over Title VII claims for which a plaintiff has failed to exhaust administrative remedies.’” Murphy v. Adams, No. DKC-12-1975, 2014 WL 3845804, at *7 (D. Md. Aug. 4, 2014) (quoting Balas v. Huntington Ingalls Indus., Inc., 711 F.3d 401, 406 (4th Cir. 2013)). On this basis, Defendants move to dismiss under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1). In considering Defendants’ motion, “the Court may . . . consider matters beyond the allegations in the complaint” because Defendants assert that “the jurisdictional allegations in the complaint are not true.” Fontell v. MCGEO UFCW Local 1994, No. AW-09-2526, 2010 WL 3086498, at *3 (D. Md. Aug. 6, 2010); see Adams v. Bain, 697 F.2d 1213, 1219 (4th Cir. 1982). The Court “regard[s] the pleadings’ allegations as mere evidence on the issue, ” and its consideration of additional evidence does not “convert[] the proceeding to one for summary judgment.” Richmond, Fredericksburg & Potomac Ry. v. United States, 945 F.2d 765, 768 (4th Cir. 1991); see Adams, 697 F.2d at 1219 (“A trial court may consider evidence by affidavit, depositions or live testimony without converting the proceeding to one for summary judgment.”).

         When a defendant challenges subject matter jurisdiction, the burden is on the plaintiff to prove that subject matter jurisdiction exists. See Evans v. B.F. Perkins, Co., 166 F.3d 642, 647 (4th Cir. 1999); El-Amin v. Int’l Longshoremen’s Ass’n Local No. 333, No. CCB-10-3653, 2011 WL 2580630, at *2 (D. Md. June 28, 2011). “A court should grant a Rule 12(b)(1) motion ‘if the material jurisdictional facts are not in dispute and the moving party is entitled to prevail as a matter of law.’” El-Amin, 2011 WL 2580630, at *2 (quoting Evans, 166 F.3d at 647). To exhaust her administrative remedies, Plaintiff must “bring[] a charge with the EEOC.” Smith v. First Union Nat’l Bank, 202 F.3d 234, 247 (4th Cir. 2000); see Jones v. Calvert Group, Ltd., 551 F.3d 297, 300 (4th Cir. 2009).

         2. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6)

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) provides for “the dismissal of a complaint if it fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.” Velencia v. Drezhlo, No. RDB-12-237, 2012 WL 6562764, at *4 (D. Md. Dec. 13, 2012). This rule’s purpose “‘is to test the sufficiency of a complaint and not to resolve contests surrounding the facts, the merits of a claim, or the applicability of defenses.’” Id. (quoting Presley v. City of Charlottesville, 464 F.3d 480, 483 (4th Cir. 2006)). To that end, the Court bears in mind the requirements of Fed.R.Civ.P. 8, Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007), and Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662 (2009), when considering a motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6). Specifically, a complaint must contain “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief, ” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2), and must state “a plausible claim for relief, ” as “[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice, ” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678-79. See Velencia, 2012 WL 6562764, at *4 (discussing standard from Iqbal and Twombly). “A claim has ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.