United States District Court, D. Maryland
DARCEL COBB Plaintiff.
TOWSON UNIVERSITY Defendant.
DAVID COPPERTHITE, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Plaintiff has filed an Amended Complaint alleging that she
suffered race discrimination, retaliation, and wrongful
termination in her employment with Towson University. In her
response to the Motion for Summary Judgment, Plaintiff
abandoned her retaliation claim. Plaintiff who is
African-American claims that she was treated differently than
a non-minority co-worker who held the same position, a
Library Tech II. Plaintiffs evidence consists of her opinions
and her evaluation of both her performance and her opinions
of the performance of the comparator she offers.
administratively appealed her performance evaluations from
2007, 2009 and 2010. Subsequently she appealed her 2009 and
2010 evaluations to the Office of Administrative Hearings for
the State of Maryland. After being denied relief during the
Administrative proceedings. Plaintiff appealed the decisions
to the Circuit Court for Baltimore County, who again denied
Plaintiff relief, finding that the Administrative Hearing
Officer applied the correct legal standard and her decision
was not arbitrary or capricious. The Court of Special Appeals
reviewed the administrative agency's decision dismissing
the Plaintiffs grievance and affirmed the decision.
Interestingly, Plaintiff did not assert discrimination as a
basis for her grievances before the administrative agency.
filed her first charge of discrimination on February 27, 2008
alleging that she was discriminated against because she was
not selected for a promotion and a Caucasian woman who she
believed lacked the job skills was selected. Plaintiff and
Towson University resolved this dispute by a settlement
agreement dated April 9. 2008. which provided Plaintiff
back-pay as an acting ILL coordinator during the interim
selection period and accorded some other concessions to
Plaintiff. There was no admission of discriminatory conduct.
Plaintiff then filed a complaint alleging retaliation and
violation of her settlement agreement. The Maryland
Commission on Human Relations dismissed the complaint finding
no retaliation. Plaintiff did not complain of any
discriminatory conduct related to her performance evaluations
prior to this Complaint.
began her employment at Towson University on July 5. 1989.
She transferred from the Registrar's Office to the
Interlibrary Loan Department ("ILL") in June 1995.
She was employed as a Library Technician II. Sharon Mollock
was her supervisor until January 2006. In her deposition.
Plaintiff stated that during that time, she had excellent
evaluations and her supervisors commended her. Under a
temporary supervisor until June 2007, Plaintiff was rated as
employment troubles began after Plaintiff applied for the ILL
Coordinator position in April, 2007 and was not selected.
Plaintiff testified that she had been serving as acting ILL
Coordinator and was the best candidate for the position. She
further alleged that a member of the hiring committee, Sylvia
Kodis, agreed. The University selected another candidate.
Linda Kleback, who was Caucasian. Ms. Kleback served in that
position as Plaintiffs supervisor from January 2008 through
February 2010. During that time, Mary Ranadive became
Plaintiffs second line supervisor and Deborah Nolan the
University Librarian, became Plaintiffs third line
Kleback provided Plaintiff with her 2008 and 2009 performance
reviews. Plaintiff received a rating of 3 ("Meets
Standards") for 2008 and a rating of 1.9 ("Below
Standards") for 2009. In her response in opposition to
summary judgment. Plaintiff stated "[t]he reviews lacked
specific details and documentary proof to most of the alleged
performance problems and Kleback and Nolan cannot recollect
any specific details. PI. Response at 4. In actuality, the
reviews included detailed descriptions of Plaintiff s
performance and issues related to Plaintiffs performance. PI.
Response, Exh, 9. 10. For example, "Darcel...can come
across as hesitant. Training on multitasking should be
helpful...needs to be more willing to share information and
respond to supervisors... her attitude is perceived by
library staff in other libraries as unhelpful and that causes
hard feelings on both sides." Exh. 9. The 2008
evaluation also recognized the changes coming to the ILL
department and stated that the Plaintiffs dedication should
help her give any changes a fair trial. Id.
the 2009 evaluation specifically noted problems with
Plaintiffs performance. Exh. 10. "Darcel has good
customer service skills but needs to use them in dealing with
all customers... In August, 2008 she was given a workflow
plan that was not followed. She received a letter of
counseling in October 2008... [n]othing has changed. Darcefs
job performance in this area is unacceptable.... we have
discussed job performance and improvements needed. 1 have
given her written workflow plans that have not been followed.
She has agreed to bring problems in ILL to me. she has
not...she has agreed to click on emails I send her so I know
she's read them, she has not. In a meeting on 19 February
2009 on important software upgrades, she refused to look at
me. barely responded to the questions I asked and took no
notes...she shares nothing with me. and it is damaging the
department. Darcel works hard but accuracy is a problem.
There have been documented instances of articles in PDF form
being handled incorrectly. Requests sent linger for
months...the Letter of Counseling ...required the use of the
Notes field ...this has not been followed. She has agreed to
share information with me...this has not happened. She has
not brought any ILL problems to me as required in the October
2008 Letter of Counseling. She keeps these to herself to the
detriment of the department.'" Exh. 10.
Kleback testified about being stalked by the Plaintiff. (ECF
78-9, pp. 12-14). "Every time that I can remember that I
used the microfilm she would show up and walk around to see
what I was doing." Id. Ms. Kleback testified
that she used the word "stalking" to describe this
conduct and understood what "stalking" meant. She
also testified that she did not want to talk to Plaintiff any
more than she had to. She did not counsel Plaintiff because
she was too afraid. During that "stalking" period.
Plaintiff was not fulfilling her job duties very well and was
not meeting the standards that she was expected to fill. On
one occasion. Plaintiff was seen hiding in the stacks and
according to Ms. Kleback. took a flash picture of Ms.
Kleback. Ms. Kleback saw the flash and thought she had been
shot. She was too scared to confront Plaintiff. Id.
to Rule 56, a movant is entitled to summary judgment where
the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and
admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any,
show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact.
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a); See Celolex Corp. v. Catrett,477 U.S. 317, 322-23 (1986). The Supreme Court has clarified
that not every factual dispute will defeat a motion for
summary judgment but rather, there must be a genuine issue of
material fact. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., Ml
U.S. 242, 247-248 (1986) ("the mere existence of some
alleged factual dispute between the parties will not defeat
an otherwise properly supported motion for summary judgment;
the requirement is that there be no genuine issue
of material fact.*'). An issue of fact is
material if, under the substantive law of the case,
resolution of the factual dispute could affect the outcome.
Id. at 248. There is a genuine issue as to material
fact "if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury
could return a verdict for the nonmoving party." Id;
see Dulaney v. Packaging Corp. of Am.,673 F.3d 323, 330