United States District Court, D. Maryland
JAMES H. BALES
MARYLAND JUDICIARY/ ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICE OF THE COURTS
Frederick Motz United States District Judge.
James H. Bales (“Bales”) brings suit against his
former employer, the Administrative Office of the Courts
(“AOC”),  alleging the AOC discriminated against him
based on his age and disability status. He brings claims for,
inter alia, hostile work environment, retaliation,
failure to accommodate, and constructive discharge, pursuant
to §504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, 29 U.S.C. 794
et seq. (“Rehabilitation Act”), and the
Maryland Fair Employment Practices Act (“MFEPA”),
Md. Code Ann., State Gov't. § 20-602, et
seq. Now pending is the AOC's motion to dismiss
Bales' first amended complaint, or in the alternative,
for summary judgment. (ECF No. 17). The motion is fully
briefed, and no oral argument is necessary. See
Local Rule 105.6. For the reasons set forth below, the motion
is granted and Counts 1 through 11 are dismissed
motion to dismiss stage, this court accepts as true the facts
alleged in the plaintiff's complaint. See Aziz v.
Alcolac, Inc., 658 F.3d 388, 390 (4th Cir. 2011).
Plaintiff Bales is a resident of the State of Maryland, and
his address is 1430 Dundalk Avenue, Baltimore, Maryland,
21222. (ECF No. 13, ¶ 3). Defendant AOC, located in
Annapolis, Maryland, is a court-supporting agency that
“oversees and implements court policies established by
the Chief Judge, the Court of Appeals, and the General
Assembly.” Id. at ¶ 4. The AOC's
Judicial Information Systems (“JIS”) department
hired Bales in 1994, and he worked at JIS in varying
capacities until his early retirement in July 2014.
Id. at ¶¶ 11, 299. Throughout his period
of employment, Bales alleges he was subjected to
discrimination and harassment due to his age, disability
status, and his engagement in protected activity. Bales'
factual allegations, which are numerous, can be separated
into three distinct periods of employment: Bales' time at
JIS Annex (January 1998 to February 2009), Bales'
relocation to JIS Riva (February 2009 to May 2013), and
Bales' reassignment to a new position at JIS Riva and his
subsequent retirement (May 2013 to July 2014).
Annex (January 1998 to February 2009)
to 1998, Bales alleges he was promoted several times,
eventually reaching the title of “Information
Specialist X” in JIS's LAN Department. Id.
at ¶ 12. Bales alleges he was “at all times a
model employee who met or exceeded his employer's
legitimate performance expectations in these positions, which
included receiving a letter of commendation.”
Id. at ¶ 13. In January of 1998, Bales was
transferred to the JIS Annex, located at 2004 Industrial
Drive, Maryland, where he continued working as an Information
Specialist X. Id. at ¶ 14. At the Annex, Bales
worked with, inter alia, Robert Hannon
(“Hannon”) and Jason Thomas
(“Thomas”). Bales' immediate supervisor was
Jim Butler (“Butler”), a Senior Manager in LAN
Administration, who in turn reported to Phillip Braxton
(“Braxton”), Executive Director of JIS.
Id. at ¶¶ 14-17. It was at the Annex where
Bales alleges he “became the ongoing victim of office
bullying and pranks, primarily at the hands of Messrs. Thomas
and Hannon, who came to be his primary tormentors.”
Id. at ¶ 18. For example, Bales alleges his
coworkers would throw pennies in his direction and play
various pranks on him including sabotaging his computer
equipment, unplugging his keyboard, removing the ball from
his computer mouse, and switching network wires on files
servers. Id. at ¶¶ 17-18.
Bales alleges he started complaining, sometimes on “a
daily basis, ” to his immediate supervisor, Butler.
Id. at ¶ 21. However, Bales alleges the conduct
did not stop; rather, the nature of the conduct escalated and
Butler “would himself engage in very inappropriate
conduct.” Id. at ¶ 22. For example, Bales
contends he was “continually ridiculed about his age
with demeaning comments about his sight, hearing, and alleged
diminished mental capacity, along with repeated ageist
comments that he was ‘old.'” Id. at
¶ 23. Furthermore, Bales alleges “Thomas and
others would gleefully have farting and belching contests
and, on one occasion, deliberately farted on Mr.
Bales.” Id. at ¶ 24. “On other
occasions, Mr. Thomas and others would proceed to lick each
others' hands in a perverted manner in an attempt to
disgust and provoke Mr. Bales, and further made sexually
derogatory comments about Mr. Bales' daughter.”
Id. at ¶ 25.
2004, Bales alleges he was experiencing serious physical and
mental complications because of his work environment.
Id. at ¶ 29. In response, he allegedly
“repeatedly emailed, spoke with and notified”
Braxton, Butler's superior, of the “harassing and
intolerable behavior taking place at the JIS Annex.”
Id. Bales alleges he asked to “be relocated
out of this antagonistic environment, ” but Braxton
failed to take remedial action or relocate Bales away from
the Annex. Id. at ¶¶ 32-33. In March of
2005, Bales claims he sought medical treatment with Dr.
Jerome Rubin, PhD, who diagnosed Bales with Chronic Stress
Disorder (“CSD”), allegedly resulting from
Bales' work environment. Id. at ¶¶
2005 to 2007, Bales alleges the harassment continued and he
repeatedly complained to superiors and asked to be relocated
to a different office at JIS Riva. Id. at
¶¶ 36-50. However, Bales alleges his complaints and
requests to be transferred out of JIS Annex to JIS Riva were
largely ignored and his coworkers continued their pattern of
harassment. Id. For example, on one occasion in
November of 2005, Thomas “wildly scratch[ed] his
crotch” and then “immediately and purposely
touched  Bales with his crotch scratching hand.”
Id. at ¶ 44.
December 18, 2008, finally “[e]xasperated by . . .
inactions, ” Bales claims he filed a written
“Grievance” with Braxton asking again to be
“relocated to JIS Riva.” Id. at
¶¶ 51-54. The grievance also reiterated the conduct
Bales had been subjected to at JIS Annex, specifically noting
he had suffered “personal attacks, bullying, discredit,
personal disrespect, judiciary disrespect, ridicule,
provocation, . . . personal family commentary, farting at
[his] desk, body slamming, perverted acts of licking each
other's hands, equipment and project sabotage, selective
persecution, false accusation and antagonism[, ] . . .
harassment, age commentary, [and] racial commentary.”
Id. at ¶¶ 54-55. Bales claims, in response
to his “Grievance, ” Braxton sent him a
memorandum dated January 15, 2009, indicating Braxton
“concluded that [he does] not have adequate
‘verifiable' information about these occurrences to
reach an informed decision.” Id. at ¶ 61.
Accordingly, Braxton advised Bales to consider contacting the
Office of Fair Practices (“OFP”) to investigate
his “stress-related physical problems.”
Id. at ¶ 62.
instead, escalated his complaint to Human Resources on
January 22, 2009, notifying Lee Robinson, manager of the
Office of Employee Relations in the Human Resources
Department. Id. at ¶ 67. Bales also made
“an unusual plea directly to Frank Broccolina, ”
who was the head of the AOC, requesting that Bales be moved
to JIS Riva. Id. at ¶ 70. As a result of his
complaints, Bales alleges he was subjected to increased
scrutiny and false accusations including, inter
alia, allegations he was “cursing” at work
when he claims he was not, and being limited to a
thirty-minute lunch period, “despite the fact that
other employees at the JIS Annex routinely enjoyed an hour or
more for lunch each day and numerous breaks during the
day.” Id. at ¶ 79. Bales alleges he
reported these incidents to the Human Resources Department,
expressing his concerns these actions were “retaliatory
because of recent complaints and grievances.”
Id. at ¶ 80.
Riva (February 2009 to May 2013)
February of 2009, the Department of Human Resources
transferred Bales to JIS Riva while OFP continued its
investigation into Bales' claims. Id. at ¶
81. Unfortunately for Bales, OFP advised him on May 18, 2009
its investigation was complete and it did “not
substantiate [his] claim of discrimination.” Bales
alleges these were “sham” findings and, as a
result, he “was subjected to continued harassment,
discrimination and retaliation from after from the latter
parts of 2009 up through the time he was compelled to
retire” in 2014. Id. at ¶¶ 82-84.
For example, Bales claims the relocation from JIS Annex to
JIS Riva was “held against him in his performance
evaluations” in 2009 and 2010. Id. at
¶¶ 82-84 And on January 6, 2012, Bales suffered a
heart attack allegedly “stemming from the ongoing
constant harassment and hostile work environment that
exacerbated his underlying anxiety and stress
disorder.” Id. at ¶ 89.
alleges the harassment continued at an off-site training in
March 2012 that was also attended by Thomas from JIS Annex.
Id. at ¶ 94. During the course of the class,
Bales claims Thomas repeatedly harassed him by, inter
alia, revealing personal information pertaining to his
divorce, making “numerous ageist comments to Mr.
Bales[, ] . . . sarcastically suggesting that he lacked the
mental capacity to complete very basic tasks and assignments
discussed at the class, ” and repeatedly slamming his
desk chair into Bales' desk. Id. at ¶¶
92-102. Bales complained about this incident, but the AOC
found no evidence to support Bales' claim of
discrimination at the training. Id. at ¶¶
April 25, 2012, Bales was diagnosed with symptoms consistent
with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (“PTSD”),
which Bales alleges stemmed “from the stress and
anxiety attributable to [his] working environment.”
Id. at ¶¶ 116-17. After this diagnosis,
Bales engaged in discussions with the Office of Legal Counsel
regarding “a reasonable accommodation under the
ADA.” Id. at ¶ 118-20. On June 7, 2012,
while on approved Family and Medical Leave
(“FMLA”), the AOC's Employee Relations
Officer notified Bales he was being referred to the State
Medical Director for a medical evaluation, the purpose of
which was “to receive advice regarding Mr. Bales'
functional abilities and limitations pertaining to his
position duties with or without a reasonable
accommodation.” Id. at ¶ 135-39. Bales
alleges he was “taken aback” by this request
because he was “already under the treatment of his own
medical providers.” Id. at ¶ 137. He
claims he attended the medical examination, despite believing
the evaluation was in violation of federal and state
disability laws, because he was “threat[ened with]
discipline.” Id. at 143. Despite Bales'
reluctance to attend the medical examination, the State
Medical Examiner eventually confirmed the PTSD diagnosis, but
he also referred Bales to another physician for a
psychological examination. Id. at ¶¶
returning to work at JIS Riva, Bales claims he was again
targeted by Butler and Hannon despite the fact they were
still assigned to JIS Annex. Id. at ¶ 150. For
example, in July 2012, Bales claims he was asked to complete
daily reports, even though other System Administrators were
not require to submit such reports. Id. at ¶
151. When Bales asked about why he had to complete these
reports, he was informed “it was because he was working
at JIS Riva Road.” Id. at ¶ 152. On
September 6, 2012, Bales filed a discrimination charge with
the EEOC and Maryland Commission on Civil Rights
(“MCCR”) asserting age, disability
discrimination, and retaliation. (Id. at ¶ 155;
see also ECF No. 17, Ex. 2, Attachment A).
September 2012, despite the fact he has been transferred to
JIS Riva, Bales was informed he would need to attend weekly
in-person meetings with Thomas, Hannon, and Butler, all three
of which he had previously complained about. (ECF No. 17,
¶¶ 156-58). Bales alleges he suffered a severe
panic attack while at work at the prospect of having to
participate in the meetings with these coworkers.
Id. at ¶ 160. On at least one occasion, Bales
missed a meeting “due to illness, ” and
thereafter all email strings contained the message
“attendance is required for Jim
Bales.” Id. at ¶ 158 (emphasis in
original). Bales claims this was “simply another way to
harass and torment” him. Id. On September 17,
2012, Bales, through counsel, made a written request to
attend these meetings via telephone conference. Id.
at ¶ 162. Bales alleges his “stress and
anxiety” became so pronounced he began treatment and
psychotherapy on September 21, 2012. Id. at ¶
October 1, 2012, the AOC advised Bales they would not agree
to the telephonic meetings until he underwent a second
medical evaluation because the “AOC deemed Dr.
Lyons' first evaluation to be incomplete.”
Id. at 164. Bales contends this request was
unreasonable and perhaps in violation of EEOC guidelines,
“given that Mr. Bales had already submitted the
requisite medical documentation from his physicians.”
Id. at ¶ 165. Bales further alleges that
“in retaliation for Mr. Bales' having requested an
accommodation, for having filed an EEO charge, and for having
complained about discrimination generally, ” the AOC
threatened in a letter from their counsel that Bales'
failure to cooperate with the medical evaluation would result
“in adverse consequences, potentially severe.”
Id. at ¶¶ 167-68. Bales claims when he
requested to change the date of the medical evaluation
scheduled for October 9, 2012, the “AOC, through its
counsel, continued to retaliate and harass Mr. Bales over
[his] request.” Id. at ¶¶ 171-72.
further alleges he was subjected to ongoing harassment and
scrutiny from late November 2012, id. at ¶ 183,
and “increased scrutiny, retaliation, harassment, and
disparate treatment almost over every facet of his
employment” throughout Winter and Spring of 2013,
id. at 196. During this time period, he alleges that
despite multiple requests to be exempted from in-person
interactions with Thomas, Hannon, and Butler, emails were
sent regarding meetings with these individuals. Id.
at 194. Soon thereafter, however, Bales was allowed to attend
these meetings telephonically. Id. at 195. But this
did not resolve the situation; in April of 2013, Bales
continued to be singled out on group email notices for
meetings, which would contain the words “Attendance
required for Jim Bales” on the email
to the entire group, “causing him humiliation,
embarrassment and stress over being singled out in such a
fashion and to be looked at by his co-workers in a poor
light.” Id. at 200 (emphasis in original).
and Resignation (May 2013 to July 2014)
7, 2013, Bales alleges he filed an amended charge with the
EEOC after experiencing “continued harassment,
ridicule, discrimination and retaliation from employees of
the AOC.” Id. at 205. Roughly one month after
filing his amended charge, the AOC notified Bales he was
being reassigned to a newly created position within the
Information Security Unit, “Information Security
Administrator II, ” with “comparable salary,
duties, responsibilities and technical experience to his
prior position.” Id. at ¶¶ 208-09.
Bales claims, however, this new position was a “de
facto demotion” because he suggests the new
position “did not require a similar level of expertise,
had far less visibility, was lower level in stature and
nature, did not offer the opportunity to continuing working
in the engineering group as promised and, as a result,
offered no meaningful opportunity for career
advancement.” Id. at ¶ 231. Specifically,
Bales contends his new tasks were not as technical in nature,
as he had been assured they would be, but rather
“predominantly administrative in nature.”
Id. at ¶ 235. Furthermore, Bales alleges he was
notified of a potential move from a private office to a
cubicle in November 2013, which was “indicative of a
demotion.” Id. at ¶¶ 238-39. Bales
further alleges that in late December 2013, Thomas informed
Bales he was using his systems access to continually watch
and monitor Bales' computer usage. Id. at ¶
246. The “de facto” demotion, request to
potentially move to a cubicle, and Thomas' suggestion he
was monitoring Bales' computer usage, combined to caused
“Mr. Bales' PTSD to worsen” and he
“experienced nightmares, sleeplessness and panic, along
with increasingly high blood pressure.” Id. at
January 30, 2014, Bales and other members of his department
attended a Workplace Bullying presentation at the AOC.
Id. at ¶ 249. Bales alleges that as he watched
the presentation he was “overwhelmed with
sadness” because he had to re-live the torment he had
endured for years at the AOC. Id. at ¶¶
249-55. Bales “began to get teary” and he
abruptly left the presentation. Id. at ¶ 255.
Immediately thereafter, Bales contacted his physician who
instructed him to seek medical attention. Id. at
¶ 256. Accordingly, Bales requested leave for the
remainder of the day to seek treatment for his “severe
panic attack, recurring migraine and chest pains.”
Id. at ¶¶ 255-56. The next day, the AOC
placed Bales on administrative leave, citing Bales'
“outburst, use of profanity and loss of emotional
control” at the presentation as justification.
Id. at ¶¶ 262-63. Bales contends this
decision was retaliatory in nature. Id. at ¶
262. He claims he did not use profanity, but even if he did,
it would be no grounds for placing him on leave because he
alleges his coworkers regularly used profanity “freely
in the workplace without any repercussion from AOC
management.” Id. at ¶ 267.
further contends that “[i]n a blatant act of ongoing
harassment, ” the AOC's Employee Relations Officer
required him to sign a “Consent for Release of Medical
Records, ” and to submit to a medical evaluation with
the State Medical Director scheduled for February 25, 2014,
in order to assess Bales' “ability to perform the
essential functions of his position.” Id. at
¶¶ 270-75. The medical evaluation was rescheduled
for March 2014 after Bales' counsel requested
clarification of the reasons for the referral; Bales alleges
he eventually complied and underwent examination
“[u]nder threat of discipline” on March 12, 2014.
Id. at ¶ 280.
alleges on April 4, 2014, he was advised the AOC was
compelling him, under further “threats of discipline to
include termination, ” to once again submit to an
evaluation by the State Medical Director. Id. at
¶ 285. Bales, through counsel, pushed back on these
additional requests. Id. at ¶¶ 290-91. On
June 23, 2014, Bales was advised the AOC had scheduled a
meeting for June 25, 2015, to address the “current
situation, ” which he would be required to attend.
Id. at ¶¶ 292-93. On June 25, 2014, Bales
informed the AOC he would not attend the scheduled meeting
that day because he was taking previously approved FMLA
leave. Id. at ¶¶ 295-96.
25, 2014, Bales submitted paperwork for early retirement,
effective July 1, 2014. Id. Bales contends he was
forced to apply for early retirement to protect “both
his physical and mental well-being” after the
“continuing harassment, discrimination and
retaliation” he was subjected to at the AOC.
Id. at ¶¶ 298-99. Bales further contends
he receives less in early retirement benefits than he did as
an employee or if he had remained an employee until Spring
2015, when he would have been eligible for full State
retirement benefits. Id. at ¶ 301.
filed his second amended charge with the EEOC on February 13,
2015. Id. at 302. He then filed his original
complaint with this court on October 28, 2015 (ECF No. 1),
and after the AOC filed its motion to dismiss pursuant to
Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (ECF
No. 10), Bales filed his first amended complaint on May 13,
2016. (ECF No. 13). The amended complaint alleges the AOC
subjected Bales to discrimination and harassment due to his
age and disability status in violation of §504 of the
Rehabilitation Act of 1973, 29 U.S.C. 794 et seq.
(“Rehabilitation Act”) and the Maryland Fair
Employment Practices Act (“MFEPA”), Md. Code
Ann., State Gov't. § 20- 602, et seq.
Specifically, Bales' amended complaint asserts eleven
count of discrimination. Pursuant to § 504 of the
Rehabilitation Act, Counts 1-4 allege disability
discrimination as follows: “Discrimination in the Terms
and Conditions of Employment” (Count 1);
“Retaliation in the Terms and Conditions of
Employment” (Count 2); “Failure to Reasonably
Accommodate” (Count 3); and “Constructive
Discharge” (Count 4). Id. at ¶¶
312-65. Pursuant to MFEPA, Counts 5-8 allege disability
discrimination as follows: “Discrimination in the Terms
and Conditions of Employment” (Count 5);
“Retaliation in the Terms and Conditions of
Employment” (Count 6); “Failure to Reasonably
Accommodate” (Count 7); and “Constructive
Discharge” (Count 8). Id. at ¶¶
366-95. Pursuant to MFEPA, Counts 9-11 allege age
discrimination as follows: “Discrimination in the Terms
and Conditions of Employment” (Count 9);
“Retaliation in the Terms and Conditions of
Employment” (Count 10); and “Constructive
Discharge” (Count 11). Id. at ¶¶
has filed a motion to dismiss Bales' first amended
complaint under Rule 12(b)(6) or, in the alternative, for
summary judgment pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
56(c). I consider this motion as one to dismiss under Rule
12(b)(6). To adequately state a claim under Rule
12(b)(6), a complaint, relying on only well-pled factual
allegations, must state at least a “plausible claim for
relief.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 679
(2009). The “mere recital of elements of a cause of
action, supported only by conclusory statements, is not
sufficient to survive a motion made pursuant to Rule
12(b)(6).” Walters v. McMahen, 684 F.3d 435,
439 (4th Cir. 2012). In order to determine whether Bales'
complaint has crossed “the line from conceivable to
plausible, ” the court must employ a
“context-specific inquiry, ” drawing on the
court's “experience and common sense.”
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 680. When performing this
inquiry, the court accepts “all well-pled facts as true
and construes these facts in the light most favorable to the
plaintiff in weighing the legal sufficiency of the
complaint.” Nemet Chevrolet, Ltd. v.
Consumeraffairs.com, Inc., 591 F.3d 250, 255 (4th Cir.
2009). The court need not, however, accept unsupported legal
allegations, Revene v. Charles Cnty. Comm'rs,
882 F.2d 870, 873 (4th Cir. 1989), nor must it agree with
legal conclusions couched as factual allegations,
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678, or conclusory factual
allegations devoid of any reference to actual events,
United Black Firefighters v. Hirst, 604 F.2d 844,
847 (4th Cir. 1979); see also Francis v. Giacomelli,
588 F.3d 186, 193 (4th Cir. 2009).
moves to dismiss all eleven counts in Bales' first
amended complaint on the grounds of (I) various
jurisdictional and procedural issues, and (II) Bales'
failure to allege facts sufficient to support his claims.
(ECF No. 17, pp. 1-2). I consider these in turn.
Jurisdictional and procedural issues
argues Bales' claims are barred by various jurisdictional
and procedural issues. I consider: (a) whether a two- or
three-year limitations period applies; (b) whether Bales
sufficiently exhausted administrative remedies; (c) whether
Bales needed to exhaust any remedies for his retaliation
claims; (d) whether the “continuing violation
theory” can revive stale claims; (e) whether laches
bars any of Bales' claims; and (f) whether Bales needed
to first file a tort claim notice in compliance with the
Maryland Tort Claims Act prior to bringing his MFEPA claims.
Applicable limitations period
brought under MFEPA are subject to a two-year statute of
limitations period. Md. Code Ann., State Gov't §
20-1013(a)(3) (the civil action must be “filed within 2
years after the alleged unlawful employment practice
occurred”). Regarding claims brought under the
Rehabilitation Act, however, the parties disagree over the
applicable limitations period. Bales urges this court to
apply a three-year limitations period (ECF No. 22, p. 22),
while the AOC argues a two-year period applies. (ECF No. 17,
p. 12) Despite Bales' suggestions the law is
“settled in regards to this issue” and Maryland
courts “apply the three-year limitations period
governing civil actions to ADA and Rehabilitation Act
claims” (ECF No. 22, p. 23), I find a two-year
limitations period applies.
and Rehabilitation Act do not provide a statute of
limitations. Accordingly, courts “borrow” the
most appropriate or analogous state statute of limitations
and apply it to the federal cause of action. A Soc'y
Without A Name v. Virginia, 655 F.3d 342, 347 (4th Cir.
2011) (“We therefore borrow the state statute of
limitations that applies to the most analogous state-law
claim.”). Accordingly, the applicable limitations
period depends on the most analogous state-law claim or
statutory scheme. The AOC argues, under Maryland law, the
most analogous statutory scheme is MFEPA (Title 20 of the
State Government Article), which has a two-year limitations
period. Md. Code Ann., State Gov't § 20-101 et
seq. I concur.
prohibits discrimination based on disability, among other
protected classes, in places of public accommodations,
id. §§ 20-304, 20-305; employment,
id. § 20-606; housing, id.
§§ 20-705, 20-706, 20-707; and certain commercial
enterprises, id. §§ 20-402, 20-501. The
Maryland General Assembly amended its civil rights statute in
2007 to create a private right of action for employment
discrimination, including for discrimination based on
disability. 2006 Maryland H.B. 1034, 2006 Leg., 421st Sess.,
codified at State Gov't § 20-1013. Prior to 2007,
MFEPA's predecessor statute, Md. Ann. Code Art. 49B,
did not provide for a private right of action to
challenge employment discrimination; rather, it contained an
administrative remedy that provided for a six-month
limitations period for filing an administrative charge of
discrimination. Article 49B, § 9A. In 2009, the General
Assembly of Maryland significantly expanded the rights of
persons with disabilities under MFEPA by enacting specific
legal protections that mirror ADA protections, including
requiring the reasonable accommodation of workplace
disabilities, id. § 20-606(a)(4); prohibiting
an employer from retaliating against an individual for
opposing discriminatory acts, id. § 20-606(f);
and prohibiting discrimination because one is “regarded
as” disabled or has a “record of” a
disability, id. § 20-601(b)(1). 2009 Maryland
Laws ch. 299, § 1 (An Act concerning Discrimination in
Employment - Expansion of Disability Rights).
that MFEPA, in its current form, authorizes the same
expansive relief and recovery of damages as provided under
the ADA and provides specific legal protections that
mirror ADA protections. Therefore, I find MFEPA is the most
analogous state law to the Rehabilitation Act, and its
two-year limitations period applies in the present case.
Cf. Howerton v. Bd. of Educ. of Prince George's
Cnty., No. TDC-14-0242, 2015 WL 4994536, at *7 (D. Md.
Aug. 19, 2015) (applying MFEPA's two-year statute of
limitations to plaintiff's Title VI claims); *11
Melendez v. Bd. of Educ. for Montgomery Cnty., No.
DKC-14-3636, 2015 WL 3540947, at *9 (D. Md. June 3, 2015)
(stating MFEPA “is the state law analogue of Title
all claims brought under § 504 of the Rehabilitation Act
and MFEPA are subject to a two-year limitations period.
alleges Bales “failed to exhaust his administrative
remedies by filing a timely administrative charge with
respect to alleged discriminatory acts occurring before
August 18, 2014, six months prior to the filing of the
charge.” (ECF No. 17, p.18). Bales, however, contends
he exhausted his administrative remedies in a timely fashion,
and because he had 300 days to file his EEOC claim, rather
than 180 days as the AOC suggests, all his claims are timely.
Neither party is entirely correct. Although I find Bales had
300 days to file his claim, certain alleged acts of
discrimination occurred outside this 300-day period and
cannot be considered for Bales' MFEPA claims.
for claims brought pursuant to §504 of the
Rehabilitation Act, Bales is not required to exhaust
administrative remedies. “As Judge Bredar explained in
N.T. v. Balt. City Bd. of School
Comm'rs, Civil No. JKB-11-356, 2011 WL 3747751, at
*1 (D. Md. Aug.23, 2011):
A lawsuit claiming a violation of section 504 of the
Rehabilitation Act ... is conducted according to “[t]he
remedies, procedures, and rights set forth in Title VI of the
Civil Rights Act of 1964 (42 U.S.C.2000d et seq.) (and in
subsection (e) (3) of section 706 of such Act (42
U.S.C.2000e-5), applied to claims of discrimination in
compensation).” 29 U.S.C. § 794a(a)(2). The
procedures in those other statutes, adopted by reference, do
not mandate exhaustion of administrative remedies. See
Neighborhood Action Coalition v. City of Canton, Ohio,
882 F.2d 1012, 1015 (6th Cir. 1989) (“Title VI
litigants need not exhaust their administrative remedies
before pursuing their private cause of action in federal
Reyazuddin v. Montgomery Cty., Md., No. CIV.A. DKC
11-0951, 2012 WL 27241, at *3 (D. Md. Jan. 4, 2012).
Accordingly, there is no exhaustion requirement for
Bales' Rehabilitation Act claims.
MFEPA, however, Bales is required to exhaust the
administrative process. Md. Code Ann., State Gov't §
20-1013(a); see also Thompson v. Golden M Co., No.
CIV. WDQ-14-3254, 2015 WL 3888753, at *3 (D. Md. June 22,
2015) (“Federal and Maryland state discrimination
claims are subject to administrative exhaustion.”). A
plaintiff exhausts his administrative remedies by filing an
EEOC charge and obtaining a “right-to-sue”
letter; failure to do so “deprives the federal courts
of subject matter jurisdiction over the claim.”
Golden M Co., 2015 WL 3888753, at *3 (citing
Jones v. Calvert Grp., Ltd., 551 F.3d 297, 300 (4th
Cir. 2009)). Specifically, under MFEPA, “a complainant
may bring a civil action against the respondent alleging an
unlawful employment practice, if:
(1) the complainant initially filed a timely administrative
charge or a complaint under federal, State, or local law
alleging an unlawful ...