United States District Court, D. Maryland
U.S. EQUAL EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITY COMMISSION, Plaintiff,
DIMENSIONS HEALTHCARE SYSTEM, Defendant.
Xinis United States District Judge.
in this employment discrimination case is Defendant's
motion for summary judgment (ECF No. 29). The issues are
fully briefed and the Court now rules pursuant to Local Rule
105.6 because no hearing is necessary. For the reasons stated
below, Defendant's motion is DENIED.
Healthcare System (“DHS”) is an integrated,
not-for-profit healthcare system serving residents of Prince
George's County, Maryland and the surrounding area. In
May 2007, Ms. Cassandra Crawford (“Crawford”)
joined DHS as an appeals coordinator in the company's
Patient Financial Services (“PFS”) Department.
ECF No. 30-1. In 2012, Ms. Judith Selvage
(“Selvage”) and the rest of the management team
approached Crawford to see if she would be interested in a
promotion to team leader. ECF No. 30-5 at 4-6. Selvage served
as the assistant vice president of the PFS Department at the
time. The management team hierarchy in the PFS Department
consists of lower-level insurance team specialists who report
to team leaders, who in turn report to managers. ECF No.
written hiring policy requires an employee to apply for
vacant positions on the company's intranet website before
DHS will consider the candidate. ECF No. 29-20. However, in
practice DHS had offered promotions to current employees,
including Crawford, and thereafter encouraged the employee to
submit a formal application to finalize the promotion. ECF
30-3 at 15, 30-5 at 20. Crawford had already accepted the
promotion to team leader prior to submitting a formal
application and only after management approached her about
taking the position. ECF No. 30-4; ECF No. 29-6 at 8-9. She
held this position until her resignation in 2014. From
January 2014 to April 2014, Crawford took an approved
maternity leave. ECF No. 30-3 at 77-78.
October 1, 2014, DHS posted two management position vacancies
on the company's intranet website. ECF No. 29-1 at
12. The first, a PFS manager position, was responsible for
handling accounts receivable in the billing department. The
other, a DHA manager, was a new position involving oversight
of DHA's professional billing.
Jones (“Jones”) was hired in 2013 as an insurance
team specialist in the PFS department. ECF No. 29-18. In the
fall of 2014, PFS Manager Christine Lewis
(“Lewis”) and Selvage approached Jones and told
him that they were considering him for a promotion to team
leader. ECF No. 29-1 at 13; ECF No. 29-7 at 10. They also
told him that he would have to apply to the position online.
But when Jones submitted his application, he discovered that
no open team leader position existed. Instead, he noticed
DHS's two manager vacancies-the PFS manager position and
the DHS manager position. Both positions were one level
higher on the corporate ladder than the position Crawford
held at the time, and two levels higher than Jones's
position as an insurance team specialist. ECF No. 30 at 8.
the exact timeline remains unclear, Jones applied to the PFS
Manager position sometime in October or early November 2015.
Compare ECF No. 29-21 (indicating that Jones applied
for the PFS manager position on October 6, 2014),
with ECF No. 30-40 (indicating that Jones applied
for the PFS manager position on November 3, 2014). Around
that time, Selvage interviewed Jones for the PFS manager
position. During the interview, Selvage told Jones that he
was qualified for both manager positions and arranged for
Jones to meet with the DHA Practice Manager, Donna
Wallington. On November 3, 2014, after Jones met with
Wallington, Jones filed a formal application through
DHA's intranet for the DHA manager position. ECF Nos.
29-21 & 29-22. Jones was informally offered both manager
positions shortly after speaking with Wallington. ECF No.
30-13 at 16-18.
to Crawford, she first learned of the vacant PFS manager
position on October 14, 2014 when Avril Musa, Jones's
supervisor, told Crawford that DHS had selected Jones to fill
the PFS manager position. ECF No. 30 at 8. Crawford was
distraught because she believed DHS had passed over her for a
less qualified candidate. Id. That same day,
Crawford raised the issue with her direct supervisor, PFS
Manager Christine Lewis. ECF No. 30-7 at 47. Lewis recognized
that Crawford was upset and instructed her to take the rest
of the week off. Crawford obliged. ECF No. 30-7 at 56.
Crawford returned to work on Monday, October 20, 2014,
Selvage called Crawford into a meeting to discuss Jones's
promotion. ECF No. 30-5 at 31-32. During this meeting,
Crawford told Selvage that she believed she deserved the
promotion to PFS manager over Jones because she was then
serving as a team leader, a stepping-stone position to a PFS
manager. ECF No. 30-5 at 41-42. Crawford also asked Selvage
why Jones was promoted to PFS manager position over her, to
which Selvage responded that Jones had a “management
background.” ECF No. 30-3 at 69. Crawford challenged
the veracity of Selvage's representation, noting that
when Crawford interviewed Jones to be an insurance team
specialist, it was clear that Jones did not have management
experience. ECF No. 30-3 at 68-76. Selvage's replied,
“Well, like I said, he has a management background.
Plus, you were on maternity leave for a while.” ECF No.
30 at 11; ECF No. 30-31; ECF No. 30-3 at 74.
the meeting, Crawford discussed what Selvage said during the
meeting with Lewis, and learned that Selvage had supposedly
demoted other women who had been out on maternity leave.
See, e.g., ECF No. 30-32; ECF No. 30-23 at 5-7; ECF
No. 30-23 at 15-16. These conversations with Selvage and
Lewis prompted Crawford to resign. After Crawford tendered
her resignation, Jones ultimately declined the PFS manager
position and instead accepted the DHA manager position. ECF
No. 30-13 at 16-18. The PFS manager position remains open to
filed a complaint with the EEOC on November 18, 2014. ECF No.
9-3. On May 11, 2015, the EEOC issued to DHS a Determination
finding reasonable cause to believe DHS discriminated against
Crawford because she had availed herself of maternity leave.
ECF No. 9-4. The EEOC filed its complaint in this Court on
August 10, 2015 alleging that Defendant DHS unlawfully
discriminated against Crawford on the basis of sex in
violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and
Title I of the Civil Rights Act of 1991. See ECF No.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
may enter summary judgment only if there is no genuine issue
as to any material fact and the moving party is entitled to
judgment as a matter of law. See Fed. R. Civ. P.
56(a); Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322
(1986); Emmett v. Johnson, 532 F.3d 291, 297 (4th
Cir. 2008). However, summary judgment is inappropriate if any
material fact at issue “may reasonably be resolved in
favor of either party.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby,
Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 250 (1986); JKC Holding Co. LLC
v. Washington Sports Ventures, Inc., 264 F.3d 459, 465
(4th Cir. 2001).
party opposing a properly supported motion for summary
judgment ‘may not rest upon the mere allegations or
denials of [his] pleadings, ' but rather must ‘set
forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue
for trial.'” Bouchat v. Baltimore Ravens
Football Club, Inc., 346 F.3d 514, 522 (4th Cir. 2003)
(quoting former Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e)). “A mere scintilla
of proof . . . will not suffice to prevent summary
judgment.” Peters v. Jenney, 327 F.3d 307, 314
(4th Cir. 2003). “If the evidence is merely colorable,
or is not significantly probative, summary judgment may be
granted.” Liberty Lobby, 477 U.S. at 249-50
(citations omitted). At the same time, the court must
construe the facts presented in the light most favorable to
the party opposing the motion. See Scott v. Harris,
550 U.S. 372, 378 (2007); Emmett, 532 F.3d at 297.
VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, § 703(a), 42 U.S.C.
2000e et seq., prohibits various forms of employment
discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or
national origin. The Pregnancy Discrimination Act
(“PDA”), an amendment to Title VII of the Civil
Rights Act, states that “women affected by pregnancy,
childbirth, or related medical conditions shall be treated
the same for all employment-related purposes . . . as other
persons not so affected but similar in their ability or
inability to work.” 42 U.S.C. § 2000e(k). “A
claim of discrimination on the basis of pregnancy must be
analyzed in the same manner as any other sex discrimination
claim brought pursuant to Title VII.” DeJarnette v.
Corning Inc., 133 F.3d 293, 297 (4th Cir. 1998)
(internal quotation marks omitted) (quoting Boyd v.
Harding Academy, 88 F.3d 410, 413 (6th Cir. 1996)).
Plaintiff thus bears the burden of showing that she was a
victim of intentional discrimination. Id. (quoting