United States District Court, D. Maryland
Xinis United States District Judge.
in this employment discrimination case is Defendants'
motion to dismiss or in the alternative motion summary
judgment (ECF No. 8). The issues are fully briefed and the
Court now rules pursuant to Local Rule 105.6 because no
hearing is necessary. For the reasons stated below,
Defendants' motion is granted.
a substitute bus driver, was employed through two
transportation contract companies-Reid's School Bus
Services (“Reid”) and Alvin Freeland
“Contractors”)-to provide transportation services
to the Calvert County Public Schools. Under the contracts,
the Contractors provide the school system buses and drivers
to transport its students to and from school. ECF No. 8-4 at
2; see also Exhibit B, ECF No. 8-4 at 15-62. The
Contractors supervise the bus drivers, retain hiring and
firing authority, and are responsible for monitoring and
disciplining the drivers. The Contractors also pay the
drivers and process all income tax, social security,
workers' compensation, and other financial paperwork
related to the drivers' employment. Id.
Contractors are likewise responsible for ensuring the drivers
undergo the state-required mandatory training pursuant to
COMAR 13A.06.07.09, and are in compliance with all safety
alleges that while she was a substitute driver assigned to a
Calvert County school district bus route, parents of white
students harassed Plaintiff about her performance. The school
would routinely investigate these complaints to include
pulling the camera footage from the bus and questioning
Plaintiff about her interactions. As a result, Plaintiff
needed to take time off work “because [she] was under
so much stress and anxiety.” ECF No. 1 at 2. Plaintiff
then claims to have “made threats to get a lawyer to
remove me from the bus, ” ECF No. 1 at 8, which
prompted her supervisors to switch her bus route and replace
her with a white driver. As a consequence of this alleged
discrimination, Plaintiff is claiming back pay, vacation pay,
and compensation for pain and suffering.
exhausting administrative remedies on her race-based and
retaliation claims, Wallace filed her complaint in this Court
against the Defendant Board of Education (the
“Board”) as well as Defendants Edward Cassidy,
Chuck Baker and Anthony Navarro. ECF No. 1. Wallace also
properly served defendants and moved to proceed in forma
pauperis. ECF Nos. 1, 5. On November 25, 2016, Defendants
moved to dismiss the Complaint in its entirety, or
alternatively for summary judgment in its favor. Plaintiff
has failed to respond, and the deadlines for doing so have
long passed. Plaintiff has also failed to heed this
Court's repeated advisement in accordance with
Roseboro v. Garrison, 528 F.2d. 309 (4th Cir. 1975)
to respond or risk the Court ruling in the face of
Plaintiff's silence. ECF Nos. 12, 15. Accordingly, the
Court has determined that Defendants' Motion is ripe for
resolution and for the following reasons will be granted.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
the Court treats a motion to dismiss as a motion for summary
judgment, “[a]ll parties must be given a reasonable
opportunity to present all the material that is pertinent to
the motion.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(d). The non-moving party
may object to the court construing the motion as one for
summary judgment by attesting, via affidavit or declaration,
to the need to take additional discovery before resolving the
motion. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(d); see Celotex Corp. v.
Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 326 (1986). Here, Defendants
styled their motion as one to “Dismiss, or in the
Alternative, for Summary Judgment” and attached
exhibits for court consideration, which gave Plaintiff
reasonable notice and opportunity to respond the propriety of
summary judgment. See Laughlin v. Metropolitan Wash.
Airports Auth., 149 F.3d 253, 260-61 (4th Cir. 1998).
Plaintiff has not opposed Defendants' motion or submitted
an affidavit attesting to the need for additional discovery.
Thus, the Court will treat this motion as one for summary
judgment and consider the additional documentary evidence
submitted by Defendants.
may enter summary judgment only if there is no genuine issue
as to any material fact and the moving party is entitled to
judgment as a matter of law. See Fed. R. Civ. P.
56(a); Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322
(1986); Emmett v. Johnson, 532 F.3d 291, 297 (4th
Cir. 2008). Conversely, summary judgment is inappropriate if
any material fact at issue “may reasonably be resolved
in favor of either party.” Anderson v. Liberty
Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 250 (1986); JKC Holding
Co. LLC v. Washington Sports Ventures, Inc., 264 F.3d
459, 465 (4th Cir. 2001).
Dismissal of Defendants Cassidy, Baker and Navarro
initial matter, Defendants rightfully point out that claims
against the individual defendants Cassidy, Baker and Navarro
cannot be sustained as a matter of law because Title VII does
not provide for suits against individual supervisors. See
Lissau v. S. Food Serv., Inc., 159 F.3d 177, 181 (4th
Cir. 1998). Title VII provides that “it shall be an
unlawful employment practice for an employer” to engage
in race based discrimination. 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2(a).
Title VII further defines “employer” as “a
person engaged in an industry affecting commerce who has
fifteen or more employees and “any agent of such
person.” Id. Although the statute itself does
not define “agent, ” the United States Court of
Appeals for the Fourth Circuit has reasoned that “the
linkage between the size of the employer and the amount of
available relief clearly indicates a congressional intent to
limit plaintiffs' remedies to suits against
employers.” Lissau, 159 F.3d at 181.
Consequently, the Fourth Circuit has joined numerous other
Circuits in holding that “supervisors are not liable in
their individual capacities for Title VII violations.”
Id. Cassidy, Baker and Navarro, therefore, must be
dismissed as a matter of law.
Title VII Discrimination Claims against the Board
Board, as the remaining Defendant, primarily argues that it
cannot be held liable because the Contractors and not the
Board were Plaintiff's employers. Defendants are correct.
More than one entity may be considered for Title VII purposes
as an “employer” if the entities
“jointly” employ the Plaintiff and each exercises
significant control over Plaintiff. See Butler v. Drive
Auto. Indus. of Am., Inc., 793 F.3d 404, 414 (4th Cir.
2015). More specifically, where “one employer while
contracting in good faith with an otherwise independent
company, has retained for itself sufficient control of the
terms and conditions of ...