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Godbolt v. Trinity Protection Services, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Maryland, Southern Division

June 13, 2017

NADINE GODBOLT, Plaintiff,
v.
TRINITY PROTECTION SERVICES, INC. Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          GEORGE J. HAZEL United States District Judge.

         Plaintiff Nadine Godbolt brings claims against her former employer, Defendant Trinity Protection Services. Inc. ("Trinity"), for discrimination on the basis of sex in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ("Title VII"), 42 U.S.C. § 2000e el seq., and discrimination on the basis of a disability in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act of 2008 ("ADAAA"). 42 U.S.C. § 12101 et seq. ECF No. 27. Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment. ECF No. 48. came before the Court for a hearing on May 22. 2017. Loc. R. 105.6 (D. Md. 2016). For the reasons that follow. Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment is granted.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Godbolt was employed by Trinity, a security services contracting corporation, as a Contract Security Officer CCSO") from July 30, 2011, until her termination on July 18, 2012. ECF No. 48-6 at 1; ECF No. 48-15 at 1.[1] During that time period. Trinity provided security services to the government and private entities. ECF No. 48-2 ¶ 4.

         Godbolt was hired to staff a contract that Trinity had received from the Department of Defense ("DOD") to provide security services at various government buildings. Id. ¶ 11; see also ECF No. 48-6 at 1. The DOD contract required that security personnel meet certain physical requirements, adhere to specific standards of conduct, and follow a dress code. Id. ¶ 13; see also ECF No. 48-5. Godbolt's offer letter stated that she would be paid on an hourly basis and that her "work duties, work location, shift and post assignment and supervisor are...subject to change at [Trinity's] discretion." ECF No. 48-6 at 1. She signed the letter, indicating acceptance of an assignment at "One Liberty Center." Id. at 2.

         Godbolt states that she requested various schedule changes from her supervisor. Sabrina Currie. such as picking-up additional hours, trading shifts with other employees and changing to a new shift, but was denied. ECF No. 48-10 at 9; ECF No. 51-2. Godbolt states that on at least three occasions, the shift she requested was then given to a male employee. ECF No. 51-2 at 2. Similarly. Godbolt states that male employees were allowed to trade shifts while she was not. ECF No. 51-7.

         During her deposition. Godbolt provided additional details regarding the timing of these events. She stated that around August 1. 2011 she requested to pick-up additional hours that were available because other workers did not show up or called in sick. ECF No. 48-10 at 4. Godbolt stated that she made a second request "days after" the first request, id. at 5. and a third request, a week or two later. Id. at 6. Godbolt stated that all the requests "happened within a three-week span." Id.[2]

         With respect to her requests to trade shifts, Godbolt stated in her deposition that the first time she and another officer sought to trade shifts occurred during the second week of August 2011. ECF No. 48-10 at 10. In a letter written to Trinity's Human Resources Department on September 26. 2011. Godbolt stated that on September 23. 2011. she asked Currie to clarify whether or not she would allow Godbolt and another officer to trade shifts, and Currie stated that she would not approve the switch. ECF No. 51-2 at 4.

         Finally, with respect to changing to a new shift. Godbolt stated that a new shift became available in early September. ECF No. 48-10 at 8. Godbolt does not specify in her affidavit or deposition when she requested this new shift for herself. However, the fact that she did not receive this new shift, and that it was instead given to other officers, is mentioned in her September 26. 2011 letter to Trinity. ECF No. 51-2 at 3.

         On September 23. 2011, an incident occurred between Godbolt and Currie after their discussion regarding Godbolt"s request to trade shifts with another officer. ECF No. 48-8: ECF No. 51-1 ¶ 14. Although both parties describe a hostile exchange, they differ over their interpretation of the events, with Godbolt stating that Currie was the instigator and Trinity claiming the reverse. Id. Currie wrote a report of the incident and recommended that Godbolt be terminated for insubordination. ECF No. 48-8. In a letter dated September 26. 2011. Godbolt provided her version of the incident and detailed the discriminatory treatment she felt she had suffered while working under Currie, including Currie's denial of her requested schedule changes. ECF No. 51-2.

         On October 6, 2011, Godbolt was instructed by the Director of Human Resources to report to work as scheduled. ECF No. 48-9; ECF No. 51-1 ¶¶ 22-23. However, upon her arrival. Currie did not permit Godbolt to work. Id. Godbolt refused to leave as requested, and this incident, along with the prior September 23, 2011 incident, was referred to Trinity's Human Resources Department for further action. ECF No. 48-2 ¶ 23.

         On October 10. 2011. Trinity's Director of Human Resources issued a letter resolving the prior incidents by transferring Godbolt from One Liberty Center to National Center, effective October 12. 2011. ECF No. 48-9 at 2. Shortly after Godbolt's transfer, one of the three buildings that composed National Center was shut down due to the government downsizing its operations. ECF No. 55-1 ¶ 7. As a result. Godbolt's schedule was reassigned. Id. ¶ 10. Godbolt alleges that Trinity removed her from her new post to accommodate a male officer whose post had closed. ECF No. 27 ¶ 17. Trinity agrees that Godbolt was replaced by a male employee, but states that they were required to do so because they were bound by a collective bargaining agreement. which stated that Trinity must reassign senior officers to new positions at Trinity's remaining facilities if their post closes. ECF No. 55-2 ¶ 9. Trinity states that Godbolt was a junior officer. and that her schedule was reassigned to a senior officer who happened to be male. Id. ¶ 10. As of December 3. 2011, Godbolt was placed on an on-call/part-time status until a new site opened because no other positions were available. Id., ¶ 11. Godbolt states that she was left with "no work hours and no income." ECF No. 51-1 ¶ 29.

         In March 2012. Godbolt was placed at another location in Rosslyn, Virginia, where she remained until her termination. ECF No. 48-2 ¶ 27. At this new location. Godbolt was supervised by Miriam Haigler, an African-American female. Id.: see also ECF No. 51-1 ¶ 30. During her time at this new post. Godbolt was cited for additional disciplinary infractions, the last of which led to her termination. ECF No. 48-2 ¶¶ 28-31.

         On May 1, 2012. Trinity's government client wrote to Trinity, stating that Godbolt had violated the DOD contract by taking a "rover log" home, [3] wearing an improper uniform and failing to cooperate in an investigation into an anonymous call about suspicious activity at the site. Id. ¶ 28: see also ECF No. 48-11. Godbolt wrote to Trinity's Program Manager, admitting that she had taken the rover log home, but stating that she had done so accidentally. ECF No. 48-12. Godbolt now asserts that she was forced to write that letter. ECF No. 51-1 ¶ 32.

         Trinity also states that Godbolt arrived to work late on May 1, 2012, and falsified her timesheet to state that she arrived earlier than she actually did. ECF No. 48-2 ¶ 29.[4] Godbolt disputes this, saying that a supervisor ordered two other officers to change their time cards to make it look like she arrived late. ECF No. 51-1 ¶¶ 40-44. In support of her argument. Godbolt attaches a statement from Officer Bryant stating that he was instructed by his supervisor to sign out at 8:05 am to "show that CSO Godbolt was late." ECF No. 51-11. She also submits an email of a text message, where Officer Bryant again states that his supervisor made him sign out at 8:05 am. ECF No. 51-12. Notably, neither Godbolt"s affidavit nor the statements of the other officers affirmatively state that she arrived on time that day and, thus, do not contradict Trinity's statement.

         Trinity's Human Resources Department investigated Godbolt's tardiness and her removal of the rover log, and issued a letter to Godbolt on May 9. 2012. detailing their conclusions. ECF No. 48-13. In the letter. Trinity's Director of Human Resources stated that their investigation revealed that Godbolt willfully committed both infractions, which violated both Trinity's contract with DOD and Trinity's Employee Handbook. Id. Trinity stated that Godbolt would be reprimanded instead of terminated for these infractions, but cautioned that "[a]ny future infractions of the same or another nature will result in your immediate termination." Id. As a consequence of these infractions. Godbolt was suspended from work for five days and was placed on a 90-day probationary period. Id. Godbolt states that this suspension was without pay. ECF No. 51-1 at'¶32.

         Godbolt claims that this punishment was discriminatory since a male officer. Officer Oduro, was not punished when he failed to turn in a rover log. Id. Ostensibly in support of this claim. Godbolt submits a statement from Officer Oduro. explaining that a sergeant told him to complete a different form instead of the rover log. ECF No. 51-8. Godbolt also submits a statement from Officer Lynch, who says that he was "not aware of any other [CSO] being formally disciplined, suspended or terminated due to a failure to prepare or update a "Roving Officer Log."" ECF No. 51-14. Finally, a statement by Officer Kidwell, also allegedly in support of this proposition, generally refers to the "unjust & excess corrective action singling out Godbolt." without reference to any specific act. ECF No. 51-13.

         The final incident which led to Godbolt's termination occurred on July 9. 2012. That morning, Officer Beasley, an employee of the government client, observed Godbolt with her hat on the back of her gun belt rather than on her head. ECF No. 48-14. The officer informed Godbolt that she was required to wear her hat while on duty, and Godbolt responded by stating. "I am hot and I am getting a paper towel to wipe my head." Id. Ten minutes later, the officer observed Godbolt again without her hat on. Id. The officer informed Godbolt's supervisor. Miriam Haigler. of the incident, and Haigler instructed Godbolt to put on her hat. Id. The officer stated that Godbolt then placed the hat on her head "in a position not consistent with wearing a baseball style hat" before removing the hat completely. Id.

         Godbolt states she was experiencing an asthma attack during this period, and had requested to take off her hat to increase her air flow. ECF No. 27 ¶ 24. Godbolt further states that Haigler was aware of her condition and initially "made a semblance of recognition of [her] need for medical attention** by offering her bottles of cold water. Id. In her deposition, Godbolt admitted that that she had never experienced a similar episode before. ECF No. 48-10 at 11.

         On July 11, 2012. Godbolt filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"), alleging in relevant part, discrimination based on sex and disability. ECF No. 51-7. With respect to her sex discrimination claim. Godbolt stated that preferential schedules were given to male officers: male officers were allowed to trade shifts; after her site closed, she was put on an on-call list and a male officer was given her schedule; and she was suspended for five days. Id. She also describes the July 9, 2012 incident which led to her termination, stating that she had an "allergic reaction" due to working near a construction site and had told her supervisors about her "bronchitis-related condition"" in June 2012. Id.

         On July 18. 2012. Trinity mailed Godbolt a letter of termination, stating that Godbolt was being terminated for the uniform violation, dress code violation and insubordination that occurred on July 9. 2012. ECF No. 48-15. The letter also indicated that Godbolt had been warned in the May 9. 2012 letter of reprimand that any further infractions would result in her termination. Id. In support of their argument that Godbolt was not singled out for termination because of her sex. Trinity states that between September 2011 and September 2012 they ...


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