United States District Court, D. Maryland
PARTHA A. RAI CHOWDHURI, Plaintiff,
SGT, INC., CYBERDATA TECHNOLOGIES, INC., Defendants.
Xinis United States District Judge.
in this employment discrimination case is a motion to dismiss
or, in the alternative, for summary judgment filed by
Defendant Cyberdata Technologies, Inc.
(“Cyberdata”) (ECF No. 22) and two motions for
leave to file a surreply filed by Plaintiff Partha A. Rai
Chowdhuri (“Plaintiff”) (ECF Nos. 90, 91). 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, the Defendant's motion is denied
and Plaintiff's motions for leave to file a surreply are
denied as moot. Also pending is Plaintiff's motion to
proceed in forma pauperis. See ECF No. 68. Because
Plaintiff appears to be indigent, this motion shall be
April 27, 2015, Defendant SGT, Inc. (“SGT”) hired
Plaintiff as a Software Engineer III. Plaintiff was assigned
to SGT's Weather and Climate Computing Infrastructure
Services (“WCCIS”) contract, under which SGT
served as a subcontractor to Defendant Cyberdata.
See Amend. Compl., ECF No. 19 at 4. Carmen Jenkins, a
Cyberdata employee, headed the committee that interviewed
Plaintiff and recommended his hiring for the WCCIS contract.
SGT was Plaintiff's employer, Plaintiff alleges that
Cyberdata maintained significant control over his work
including supervision of his day-to-day activities, issuing
work assignments, and conducting performance evaluations.
Cyberdata also approved Plaintiff's requests for leave,
maintained his time and attendance records, and furnished
Plaintiff his work space and equipment. Id.
September 2015, Plaintiff approached Jenkins and an SGT
manager, Rexford Bowling, to complain that one of
Plaintiff's colleagues, Jonas Okwara, had been given an
unreasonable performance review and was ultimately fired
because he is African-American. ECF No. 19 at 5. Jenkins
responded by criticizing Plaintiff's poor spoken English
and telling Plaintiff that he would be “placed in
performance appraisal.” Id.
also alleges that the Defendants deliberately implemented a
plan to exclude non-caucasian code developers. By the fourth
quarter of 2015, all of the non-caucasian developers had been
discharged except for Plaintiff. Id. The discharged
non-caucasian employees had comparable or higher
qualifications than their similarly-situated caucasian
employees. Prior to termination, Defendants had given the
discharged non-caucasian employees unreasonable workloads and
unsubstantiated poor performance reviews.
Plaintiff complained about the above-described unfair
treatment, Cyberdata subjected Plaintiff to multiple
additional performance reviews from October 2015 through
April 2016. Id. at 7. Plaintiff also found himself
in “an unbearable and hostile employment environment,
” marked by false and disparaging commentary regarding
his interactions with co- workers and his work abilities;
hurtful jokes about his medical condition; and purposely
confusing instructions regarding work assignments. See
Id. at 6-7.
January 7, 2016, Plaintiff notified SGT that he planned to
file a discrimination suit against it. Around that same time,
he informed both SGT and Cyberdata that he was suffering from
medical issues for which he would need leave from work for
treatment. The Defendants, in response, increased his work
load and performance evaluations, and falsely accused him of
taking leave without permission. Id. at 7.
January 22, 2016 and April 18, 2016, Plaintiff notified both
Defendants that he filed administrative charges of
discrimination against them with the Prince George's
County Human Relations Commission and the Maryland Commission
on Civil Rights. In response, Defendants escalated the
unreasonable performance reviews, and tightened deadlines on
Plaintiff's work assignments. Id. at 7-8. SGT
then notified Plaintiff in writing on April 25, 2016 that he
was terminated. Id. at 8. Although SGT claims that
it removed Plaintiff from the WCCIS contract “at the
customer [Cyberdata's] request, ” Plaintiff
maintains that Cyberdata had no legitimate basis to fire him.
Id. Plaintiff was then replaced with a white
employee. Id. at 8.
14 and 15, 2016, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
(“EEOC”) issued Plaintiff two right-to-sue
letters. Id. at 3. Plaintiff filed his complaint in
this Court on September 12, 2016 which he amended on December
8, 2016. ECF Nos. 1, 19. Plaintiff brings claims of
retaliation and discrimination on account of his race,
national origin, and color, as well as hostile work
environment, in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights
Act of, 42 U.S.C. §2000e et seq.; 42 U.S.C.
§1981; the Maryland Fair Employment Practices Act
(“FEPA”), Md. Code Ann., State Gov't §
20-601; and § 2-222 of the Prince George's County
Code. See ECF No. 19.
December 20, 2016, SGT answered the amended complaint.
Cyberdata filed its motion to dismiss or, in the alternative,
for summary judgment on December 22. See ECF No. 22.
Plaintiff's counsel withdrew her appearance on January
23, 2017. See ECF No. 28. Plaintiff, now proceeding
pro se, responded to the motion. See ECF No. 78.
Plaintiff has also filed a Motion for Leave to Proceed In
Forma Pauperis, see ECF No. 68, and two Motions for
Leave to File a Surreply, ECF Nos. 90, 91. The Court
addresses each motion in turn.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
Cyberdata styles its motion as one to dismiss, or in the
alternative, for summary judgment and attaches exhibits to
its motion. Pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(d), materials beyond
the four corners of the complaint may be considered only if
the motion to dismiss is treated as a motion for summary
judgment and Plaintiff is given an opportunity to respond.
Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(d). Whether to convert a motion to dismiss to
one for summary judgment is a matter within the Court's
“complete discretion.” Sager v. Hous.
Comm'n of Anne Arundel Cty., 855 F.Supp.2d 524, 542
(D. Md. 2012). The Court's discretion, however,
“should be exercised with great caution and attention
to the parties' procedural rights.” Id.
(quoting 5C Charles Alan Wright et al., Federal Practice
& Procedure § 1366, at 149 (3d ed. 2004, 2011
Supp.)). “In general, courts are guided by whether
consideration of extraneous material ‘is likely to
facilitate the disposition of the action, ' and
‘whether discovery prior to the utilization of the
summary judgment procedure' ...