United States District Court, D. Maryland
FRANCIS K. SCHMIDT, et al., Plaintiffs,
THE TOWN OF CHEVERLY, MD., Defendant.
J. HAZEL, United States District Judge
a retaliation case brought by Francis Schmidt ("Ofc.
Schmidt") and his wife Donna Schmidt (collectively,
"Plaintiffs"), against Ofc, Schmidt's former
employer, the Town of Cheverly, Maryland
("Defendant"). Ofc. Schmidt alleges that he was
retaliated against because he exercised his rights under
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ("Title
VH"), 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq., the
Prince George's County Human Relations Ordinance, Prince
George Cty Code §2-185 et seq., the Maryland
Fair Employment Practices Act ("FEPA"),
Code Ann., State Gov't § 20-601 et seq.,
the Maryland Worker's Compensation Statute, Md. Code
Ann., Lab. & Empl. § 9-1105 et seq., and
the Law Enforcement Officer's Bill of Rights
("LEOBR'"), Md Code, Public Safety, §
3-101 et seq. Additionally, Plaintiffs allege the
common law tort of loss of consortium.
Motion for Summary Judgment, ECF No. 39, came before the
Court for a hearing on June 30, 2016. See Loc. R.
105.6 (D. Md. 2016). For the reasons that follow,
Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment is granted in
part and denied in part.
previously addressed in some depth the relevant facts when
the Court considered Defendant's earlier Motion to
Dismiss, or Alternatively, Motion for Summary Judgment, the
Court will not repeat that discussion here. See Schmidt
v. Town of Cheverly. Md., "No. GJH-13-3282, 2014 WL
4799039 (D. Md. Sept. 25, 2014) ("Schmidt
I"). Rather, the Court will only summarize those
facts necessary to resolve the present motion.
the Town of Cheverly, is a municipal government entity
located in Prince George's County, Maryland. ECF No, 4
¶ 3, Ofc. Schmidt was employed as a police officer by
Defendant from sometime in 2008 until August 2012. ECF No.
42-1 ¶ 1. At all times relevant to this action, Chief
Harry Robshaw had authority with regard to Cheverly Police
Personnel policies. ECF No. 42-1 at 1; ECF No. 39-29 ¶
2. In December 2008, Chief Robshaw "shoved a pool
cue" under Mrs. Schmidt's dress at a Christmas
party. ECF No, 42-3 ¶ 5. Mrs. Schmidt did not initially
report the incident for fear that Chief Robshaw would
retaliate against her husband. ECF No. 4 ¶ 15; ECF No.
42-2 ¶ 4, On September 29, 2011, Ofc. Schmidt suffered a
hernia while at work. ECF No. 42-1 ¶ 13. Due to the
hernia and required surgery, he was unable to work from
September 30, 2011 until November 28, 2011. Id. at
¶ 14. During this time period, Chief Robshaw told
Sergeant Edmund Gizinski: "As FOP [Fraternal Order of
Police] Representative I am going to give you a head[s] up ..
. Frank filed a worker's comp claim. Frank is out of
leave so in and the Town Administrator are going to terminate
Frank." ECF No. 42-5 ¶ 15; see also ECF
No. 4 ¶ 37. This message was conveyed to Ofc. Schmidt
shortly thereafter by another police officer, ECF No. 42-5
Schmidt filed a "charge of discrimination" with the
Prince George's County Human Relations Commission (the
"PGCHR Commission") on November 15, 2011. ECF No.
42-12. She alleged that Chief Robshaw sexually harassed her
on several occasions beginning in December 2009. Id.
On November 29. 2011 Ofc. Schmidt filed his own Charge of
Discrimination with the PGCHR Commission asserting
discrimination based on disability as well as retaliation.
ECF No. 42-13. He stated that he suffered a work-related
injury, namely, a hernia, that Chief Robshaw did not permit
others to donate paid leave, that he had been aiding his wife
in her sexual harassment complaints, and that he heard that
the Chief was not going to permit him to return to work,
because of his wife's actions. Id.
Ofc. Schmidt returned to work on December 5, 2011, he was
informed that Defendant was investigating whether Ofc.
Schmidt was involved in and failed to report a hit and run
accident in the summer of 2011. ECF No. 39-31. In April 2012,
Ofc. Schmidt was suspended based on the hit and run
allegations. ECF No. 42-1 ¶ 35. When Ofc. Schmidt was
eventually permitted to return to work, he was often not
allowed to enter the building, and at one point, was assigned
menial tasks. Id. at ¶ 36. .
to several police officers, during staff meetings between
2008 and 2011, Chief Robshaw regularly stated that he would
punish anyone who attempted to exercise their right to report
unfair or unlawful practices by him or the police department.
ECF No. 42-4 at ¶ 8; see also ECF No. 4. ¶
11-12. He further stated that he would "stack the trial
board"-the entity responsible for handling internal
disciplinary actions- and would seek to "terminate"
any such employees. ECF No. 42-4 ¶¶ 8-9.
hearing before a trial board was held in July 2012 on a total
of 26 charges relating to the damage to the police car and
Ofc. Schmidt's alleged failure to report the accident
involving the police vehicle. ECF No. 39-26 at 1. The trial
board found Ofc. Schmidt guilty of making false statements to
investigators and failing to disclose damage to the car. ECF
No. 39-26 at 13-14. The trial board recommended a 40 hour
suspension, a $1, 000 fine and removal from the police car
take home program. ECF No. 39-26 at 20. On August 28, 2012,
Chief Robshaw increased the punishment and terminated Ofc.
Schmidt's employment. ECF No. 39-27 at 5. Chief Robshaw
indicated that he considered Ofc. Schmidt's past job
performance and the entire record of the hearing in making
his decision. ECF No. 39-27 at 1. Additionally, in
consultation with the State Attorney's Office, Chief
Robshaw found that because there had been a determination
that Ofc. Schmidt had been deceitful, testimony he gave in
court on police matters would be discredited, meaning that he
could no longer fulfill his duties. Id. at 2.
September 21, 2012, the PGCHR Commission dismissed Ofc.
Schmidt's November 29, 2011 charge of discrimination. ECF
No. 13-10. The EEOC adopted the PGCHR Commission's
determination and sent Ofc. Schmidt a right-to-sue letter on
May 15, 2013. ECF No. 13-12. Meanwhile, Ofc. Schmidt filed
another charge of discrimination on October 2, 2012 (after he
was terminated in August 2012) alleging that he was
retaliated against for filing the November 29, 201.1 charge.
ECF No.- 42-14. He contended that because he filed the charge
in November 2011, he was (1) given a written warning for
violation of department policy on January 24, 2012; (2)
suspended from police duty from April 2012 until August 2012;
(3) reassigned to the Code and Photo Enforcement Unit; and
(4) terminated on August 13, 2012." Id.
initiated this action on August 22, 2013 in the Circuit Court
for Prince George's County, Maryland. ECF No. 1. On
November 4, 2013 Plaintiffs filed an Amended Complaint to;
reflect receipt of the second-right to sue letter that they
received from the EEOC regarding the October 2, 2012
discrimination charge. ECF No 4. On November 4, 2013,
Defendant filed a Notice of Removal to this Court. ECF No. 1.
On September 25, 2014 the Court issued an Order granting in
part and denying in part Defendant's Motion to Dismiss or
Alternatively, Motion for Summary Judgment. See
Schmidt A 2014 WL 4799039.
discovery. Defendant filed the presently pending Motion for
Summary Judgment. ECF No. 39. Subsequently, Plaintiff filed
an Opposition motion. ECF No. 42. and Defendant filed their
reply, ECF No. 43. On June 30, 2016, the Court heard oral
argument on the motion.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
judgment is appropriate if "materials in the record,
including depositions, documents, electronically stored
information, affidavits or declarations, stipulations
admissions, interrogatory answers, or other materials, "
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c), show 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);
see also Celotex Corp. v. Calrefl, 477 U.S. 317, 322
(1986). The party moving for summary judgment bears the
burden of demonstrating that no genuine dispute exists as to
material facts. Pulliam Inv. Co. v. Cameo Props.,
810 F.2d 1282, 1286 (4th Cir. 1987). If the moving party
demonstrates that there is no evidence to support the
non-moving party's case, the burden shifts to the
non-moving party to identify specific facts showing that
there is a genuine issue for trial. See Celotex, 477
U.S. at 322-23. A material fact is one that "might
affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law."
Spriggs v. Diamond Auto Glass, 242 F.3d 179, 1 83
(4th Cir. 2001) (quoting Anderson v. Liberty Lobby,
Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986)). A dispute of material
fact is only "genuine" if sufficient evidence
favoring the non-moving party exists for the trier of fact to
return a verdict for that party. Anderson, 477 U.S.
at 248. However, the nonmoving party "cannot create a
genuine issue of material fact through mere speculation or
the building of one inference upon another." Beale
v. Hardy, 769 F.2d 213, 214 (4th Cir. 1986). The Court
may only rely on facts supported in the record, not simply
assertions in the pleadings, in order to fulfill its
"affirmative obligation ... to prevent 'factually
unsupported claims or defenses' from proceeding to
trial." Felty v. Grave-Humphreys Co., 81 8 F.2d
1126, 1128 (4th Cir. 1987) (quoting Celotex, 477
U.S. at 324-25). When ruling on a motion for summary
judgment, "[t]he evidence of the non-movant is to be
believed, and all justifiable inferences are to be drawn in
his favor." Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255.
Count II: Equal Employment Opportunity ...