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Gibbs v. Board of Education of Dorchester County

United States District Court, D. Maryland

January 6, 2017

MARY WOOLFORD GIBBS, Plaintiff
v.
BOARD OF EDUCATION OF DORCHESTER COUNTY, Defendant. Employee Education Experience Starting Date Starting Salary Last Work Day Final Salary Name Education Experience Starting Date Starting Salary Last Work Day Final Salary

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          J. Mark Coulson United States Magistrate Judge.

         Plaintiff, Mary Gibbs, brought this action against Defendant, Board of Education of Dorchester County (the "Board"), alleging illegal employment practices by the Board in violation of Mrs. Gibbs's rights under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, 42 U.S.C. §2000e ("Title VII") (Count I) and 42 U.S.C. § 1981 ("Section 1981") ("Count II"). Specifically, Plaintiff, an African-American woman, contends that she was undercompensated as a result of her race, and as relief for that alleged violation, she seeks a declaratory judgment, $100, 000 in compensatory damages, and reasonable attorneys' fees and costs. (ECF No. 1-9.) The parties consented to proceed before a magistrate judge pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c) and Local Rule 301.4. (ECF Nos. 13, 14.) Now pending before the Court is Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment. (ECF No. 17). The Court has also considered Plaintiffs' Response in Opposition and Defendant's Reply. (ECF Nos. 18-1, 19). A hearing was held on December 16, 2016. (ECF No. 23.) For the reasons that follow, Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment is GRANTED.

         I. Background

         In April 2012, the Board advertised for an “Accounts Payable Specialist or Accounts Payable Clerk, 12-Month Central Office Position.” That advertisement noted the following details regarding the position's salary:

Commensurate with qualifications, experience, and determination of salary scale placement. Based on the current salary scale for either:
Accounts Payable Specialists - Administrative Secretary/Financial Specialist 12 month. Range is currently $30, 183 - $50, 095. Or Accounts Payable Clerk - Office Clerk/Secretary $19, 532 - $32, 417.

Abt Affidavit, at ¶ 5 (ECF No. 17-5). The advertisement also listed a number of “qualifications” for the position, including, among other things:

• Graduation from a standard high school or possession of a State high school equivalence certificate- A.A. degree desirable in the fields of either finance, accounting, business or related fields.
• Two years of experience in finance, accounting, procurement; * * *
• Finance, accounting and/or bookkeeping experience to include a basic understanding of bank account reconciliation, budgeting and expense coding;
• Proficient technology skills to include Microsoft Word, Excel, Outlook;
• Experience with accounts receivable, and or accounts payable;
• Some experience w/ automated finance systems/or other databases

(ECF No. 17-5-B).

         Plaintiff applied for that position later that same month. In her application, Plaintiff stated that she “had a high school diploma and was enrolled at a local community college working toward an associate degree in accounting.” Abt Affidavit, at ¶ 6. She also indicated that “she had been working for the past twelve to thirteen years as ‘Lead Supervisor - Head Teller' for The Bank of Eastern Shore, [and] in that capacity she had been responsible for teller training, reconcilement of general ledger accounts, data entry, and general supervision of tellers.” Id. Plaintiff did not, however, “indicate any professional experience in finance, accounting, or procurement, nor did she indicate any professional experience in accounts payable and/or receivables.” Id.

         Although Plaintiff did not meet all of the qualifications listed in the application, the Board, by way of letter correspondence, offered Plaintiff the position of Accounts Payable Clerk, assigned to the Finance Department in Central Office. Abt Affidavit, ¶ 7. Her starting salary was $25, 717, based on “Step 9 of the 2011-12 Office Clerk- Secretary - 12 month Salary Scale for Dorchester County Public Schools.”[1] Abt Affidavit, ¶ 10. Plaintiff acknowledged receipt of this letter correspondence and accepted the position, salary, and benefits described therein. She began in her new position with the Board on June 4, 2012. Abt Affidavit, ¶ 7, 10.

         According to Mr. Charles Dwayne Abt, the Board's Human Resources Administrator at the time, Plaintiff's salary was calculated pursuant to the Department of Human Resources Salary Offer Guidelines (the “Guidelines”). Abt Affidavit, ¶ 8-9; Abt Deposition at 24 (ECF No. 18-6). In accordance with those Guidelines, the Board determines the salary of newly hired ...


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