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Murphy v. Mercy Medical Center, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Maryland

February 9, 2017

TERESA MICHELLE MURPHY, Plaintiff,
v.
MERCY MEDICAL CENTER, INC., Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          Richard D. Bennett United States District Judge

         Plaintiff Teresa Michelle Murphy (“plaintiff” or “Murphy”) has filed a two-count complaint against Mercy Medical Center, Inc. (“defendant” or “Mercy”) alleging race and gender discrimination in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Maryland Fair Employment Practices Act (“FEPA”) based on her non-promotion and/or exclusion from supervisory and managerial positions in Mercy's Environmental Services Department.[1] 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e et seq.; Md. Code, State Gov't §§ 20-266(a), 20-606(f).

         Now pending before this Court is Mercy's Motion to Dismiss (“Mercy's Motion”) (ECF No. 4). The parties' submissions have been reviewed, and no hearing is necessary. See Local Rule 105.6 (D. Md. 2016). For the reasons stated below, defendant Mercy's Motion to Dismiss (ECF No. 4) is GRANTED, and plaintiff's Complaint (ECF No. 1) is DISMISSED WITHOUT PREJUDICE.

         BACKGROUND

         When reviewing a Motion to Dismiss, the 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).

         In June 2014, Plaintiff Teresa Murphy, a white woman, applied for a supervisory position in the Environmental Services Department of Mercy Medical Center, a hospital located in Baltimore, Maryland. (ECF No. 1 at ¶¶ 7, 25.) While Murphy was not selected for the supervisory position, she was instead selected to work as a Lead Technician and began working in this capacity on August 11, 2014. (Id. at ¶ 27.) The Department's Director, Craig Sattler (“Sattler”), informed her that she would need “more hospital experience” to meet Sattler's “minimum qualifications for the supervisory position” for which she had applied and had not been selected. (Id. at ¶¶ 23, 27.) In September 2014, Murphy began supervisory training, which lasted several months. (Id. at ¶¶ 27, 28.)

         On January 2, 2015, Murphy spoke with one of her staff members about the staff member's failure to complete all of his assigned tasks.[2] (ECF No. 1 at ¶ 29.) In response, the staff member, an African American male, “stated that [Murphy] ‘needed to watch her back.'” (ECF No. 1 at ¶ 29.) Murphy reported the incident to her supervisor and to Sattler. (Id. at ¶ 30.) On January 5, 2015, Murphy gave a list of daily tasks to the same staff member. (Id. at ¶ 31.) Upon receipt of this document, the staff member “destroyed the written task list in front of Plaintiff in a threatening manner.” (Id.) Later that day, the same staff member “yell[ed] down a corridor at [Murphy] asking [Murphy] what her problem was.” (Id. at ¶ 32.) Murphy reported both incidents to the management of the Environmental Services Department and to Mercy's Human Resources Department. (Id.)

         Murphy further alleges that the same staff member “physically assaulted” her on January 13, 2015. (ECF No. 1 at ¶ 33.) The Complaint does not state any other information about the alleged assault. (Id.) Murphy reported this incident to her supervisor. (Id.) The Complaint states that Murphy does not believe that the staff member was ever reprimanded for this conduct. (Id. at ¶¶ 33, 34.)

         Murphy alleges that she “continued to receive harsh treatment from her coworkers and subordinates.” (Id. at ¶ 35.) Murphy posits that her coworkers “were treating her in this manner due to her race and gender.” (Id.) While Murphy “continued to share her concerns” with the Environmental Services Department management, “her treatment in the workplace continued to go unaddressed.” (Id. at ¶ 36.)

         In addition, Murphy alleges that the Human Resources Department held a staff meeting on March 10, 2015 that “was called as a result of racial tensions” in the Environmental Services Department. (Id. at ¶ 37.) Murphy did not attend this meeting, but asserts that she “later learned that during the March 10, 2015 meeting, several of the staff . . . expressed issues with working for a ‘white woman.'” (Id. at ¶ 38.)

         On March 23, 2015, after learning of several open supervisory positions in the Environmental Services Department, [3] Murphy applied for a position in “another department” at Mercy. (ECF No. 1 at ¶¶ 39, 40.) On May 1, 2015, Mercy allegedly notified Murphy that “she could not be considered for the position, ” and the Human Resources Department “encouraged [her] to seek employment elsewhere.” (Id. at ¶¶ 41, 42.)

         Murphy filed an EEOC discrimination complaint on September 1, 2015. (ECF No. 1 at ¶ 15.) Murphy ended her employment at Mercy on January 22, 2016. (Id. at ¶ 13.) On or about February 26, 2016, the EEOC dismissed Murphy's case and issued her a Right to Sue letter. (ECF No. 1-1.) Murphy timely filed her Complaint in this Court on May 26, 2016. (ECF No. 1.)

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2), a plaintiff is required to plead “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” The purpose of this requirement is to “to give the defendant fair notice of what the claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.” Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (citation and internal quotations omitted). Consequently, “a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.” Id. (citation omitted). Similarly, “an unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation” is insufficient. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009). Rather, to withstand a motion to dismiss, “a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a ...


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