United States District Court, D. Maryland, Southern Division
DAVID H. MARTIN, Plaintiff,
DOUGLAS DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION, Defendants.
W. Grimm United States District Judge
five years, Plaintiff David Martin worked an eight-hour shift
(5:30 A.M. to 2:00 P.M. every weekday) as an engineer for
Defendant Douglas Development Corporation
(“Douglas”). On February 5, 2014, Martin reported
for jury duty at the Circuit Court for Calvert County,
Maryland, and was released at 12:00 P.M. that same day.
Concluding that he could not make it to work before the end
of his shift two hours later, Martin went home and, later
that week, reported a full day of jury-duty obligations on
his timesheet. Shortly thereafter, Douglas fired Martin when
its GPS-tracking system disclosed that he was released from
jury duty before the end of his shift. In a suit filed in the
Circuit Court for Calvert County, Maryland, Martin alleged
that the discharge violated Maryland's public policy
against terminating an employee for attending jury duty. ECF
No. 2. Douglas removed the case to this Court, ECF No.1, and
now moves for summary judgment on the wrongful-discharge
claim. ECF No. 69. The Motion is fully briefed,
Def.'s Mem., ECF No. 92-1; Pl.'s Opp'n, ECF No.
96; Def.'s Reply, ECF No. 97, and no hearing is
necessary, Loc. R. 105.6 (D. Md.). Because the record lacks
any evidence that supports an inference that Martin was fired
for attending jury duty (as distinct from being
fired for not returning to work following jury duty or
falsely reporting a full day of jury duty on his timesheet),
I find that his termination did not violate Maryland's
is a property-development and -management company owned by
Douglas Jemal and his two sons, Norman and Matthew. Joint
Statement of Undisputed Facts ¶¶ 15-16, ECF No. 98
[hereinafter Joint Statement]. The company hired Martin as an
engineer in October 2008. Id. ¶ 30. Martin was
an at-will employee. Joint Statement ¶ 1. During his
tenure, Martin worked a 5:30 A.M. to 2:00 P.M. shift.
Id. ¶ 4. It took Martin roughly 45 minutes in
early-morning traffic to drive from his home in Dunkirk,
Maryland, to his workplace in the Georgetown neighborhood of
Washington, D.C. Id. ¶ 5. Until his
termination, Douglas never took disciplinary action against
Martin for tardiness, absenteeism, unsatisfactory work
performance, or insubordination. Def.'s Resp. Pl.'s
Requests Admission Nos. 3-6, J.A. 283.
December 2013, Martin received a jury summons from the
Circuit Court for Calvert County, Maryland, which required
him to be on call for jury duty from January 21 until
February 14, 2014. Jury Summons, J.A. 298. Upon receipt,
Martin faxed a copy of the summons to Douglas, which the
employer received and acknowledged. Joint Statement
¶¶ 31-32; Transmission Verification Report, J.A.
297. The summons required Martin to call in to the court once
per week to find out if he would be required to appear the
following week. Jury Summons, J.A. 298. Whenever Martin
called in and found that he was not required to report to
jury duty, he emailed Douglas to inform the employer that he
would be reporting to work as usual. See Email from
David Martin, to Bryul Blaney (Jan. 27, 2014, 5:36:58 P.M.),
J.A. 299; Email from David Martin, to Tim Roberts (Feb. 10,
2014, 7:18:17 P.M.). On February 3, 2014, Martin notified
Douglas that he was “tentatively scheduled for jury
duty” on February 5, 2014. Joint Statement ¶¶
provides its employees paid time off for jury duty but
requires employees to return to work if jury duty ends before
their normally scheduled shift concludes. See
Douglas Dev. Corp. Employment Manual § 8.8, J.A. 277.
February 5, Martin did not go to work for the beginning of
his 5:30 shift. See Joint Statement ¶ 10.
Instead, he left his home at 7:30 A.M. and reported to jury
duty at 8:00 A.M. Joint Statement ¶ 9. He was dismissed
at 12:00 P.M. and drove home, arriving at his house at 12:30
testified at his deposition that he spoke with Douglas's
payroll administrator, Lily Jiang, Jiang Dep. 18:14-15, J.A.
213, before filling out his timesheet the following Monday,
Martin Dep. 137:5-16, J.A. 112. According to Martin, he told
Jiang that he did not report to work after jury duty because
he was unable to make it to work before the end of his shift
at 2:00 P.M., and Jiang told him to claim a full eight hours
on his timesheet. Id. at 145:15-146:1, 15-17, J.A.
114. Jiang does not recall whether she spoke with Martin
about this topic but does not think that she did. Jiang Dep.
42:18-43:6, J.A. 219 (“I d[o]n't remember [whether
I spoke with Martin.] I don't think I . . . talk[ed] to
him before the times for that day. They [employees] know how
to fill out the forms, you know.”). Martin submitted a
timesheet for the payroll period ending on February 7, 2014
that claimed eight hours of jury-duty time. Feb. 7, 2014
Douglas Dev. Corp. Weekly Time Sheet, J.A. 173. Douglas
Director of Property Management Timothy Roberts authorized
payment for all of the hours Martin claimed for that week,
Feb. 1-7, 2014 Douglas Dev. Corp. Payroll Summary Sheet, J.A.
713, and Martin received payment for all of the hours
claimed, Feb. 7, 2014 Earning Statement, J.A. 811.
monitors some hourly employees using a GPS-tracking system
called TeleNav. Roberts Dep. 31:7-11, J.A. 43; Gardiner Dep.
47:8-10, J.A. 160. Some combination of Roberts, Douglas
Property Managers Amanda Wallace and Hannah Kang, and
Director of Engineering James Gardiner, reviewed employee
timesheets by comparing them against TeleNav data.
Id. at 30:18-32:2. Although Roberts approved
Martin's timesheet for the pay period that ended on
February 7, 2014, a line item marked “Jury Duty”
on Martin's earning statement for the following week
deducted $172 (an amount equal to four hours of work at
Martin's rate of $43 per hour) from his paycheck. Feb.
14, 2014 Earnings Statement, J.A. 304. The record does not
make clear which Douglas employee identified the alleged
terminated Martin's employment on February 17, 2014.
Joint Statement ¶ 12. The termination took effect
immediately. Martin Dep. 148:8-9, J.A. 114. Although the
record contains somewhat differing accounts of the reasons
for Martin's termination, various Douglas employees
identified Martin's failure to report to work after jury
duty, the allegedly erroneous timesheet, Martin's job
performance, and the company's desire to reorganize the
engineering department as the reasons for his
termination. Accounts also differ about who made the
ultimate termination decision. Roberts Dep. 67:21-68:1, J.A.
52 (identifying Gardiner as the decisionmaker); Jemal Dep.
26:8-9, J.A. 70 (same); Millstein Dep: 61:17-62:10, J.A. 32
(testifying that he approved Gardiner's decision to fire
Martin); Gardiner Dep. 58:22-59:4, J.A. 163 (identifying
Jemal and Milstein as the relevant decisionmakers).
judgment is proper when the moving party demonstrates,
through “particular parts of materials in the record,
including depositions, documents, electronically stored
information, affidavits or declarations, stipulations . . .,
admissions, interrogatory answers, or other materials,
” that “there is no genuine dispute as to any
material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a
matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a), (c)(1)(A); see
also Baldwin v. City of Greensboro, 714 F.3d 828, 833
(4th Cir. 2013). If the party seeking summary judgment
demonstrates that there is no evidence to support the
nonmoving party's case, the burden shifts to the
nonmoving party to identify evidence that shows that a
genuine dispute exists as to material facts. See
Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475
U.S. 574, 585-87 & n.10 (1986). The existence of only a
“scintilla of evidence” is not enough to defeat a
motion for summary judgment. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby,
Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 251-52 (1986). Instead, the
evidentiary materials submitted must show facts from which
the finder of fact reasonably could find for the party
opposing summary judgment. Id.
common law permits termination of an at-will employee such as
Martin, Joint Statement ¶ 1, for any reason not
otherwise prohibited by law. Adler v. Am. Standard
Corp., 432 A.2d 464, 467 (Md. 1981); State
Comm'n on Human Relations v. Amecom Div. of Litton Sys.,
Inc., 360 A.2d 1, 5 (Md. 1976); Wash. B. & A.
R.R. Co., 96 A. 273, 276 (Md. 1915). Among other
exceptions to Maryland's at-will regime, an employer
cannot terminate an employee in a manner that violates public
policy. Wholey v. Sears Roebuck, 803 A.2d 482, 488
(Md. 2002); Adler, 432 A.2d at 473. To bring a
wrongful-discharge claim based on public policy, “
the employee must be discharged,  the basis for the
employee's discharge ...