United States District Court, D. Maryland
FRANCIS P. CIOCIOLA
BALTIMORE CITY BOARD OF SCHOOLS COMMISSIONERS
CATHERINE C. BLAKE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Francis P. Ciociola, has filed a complaint against defendant,
Baltimore City Board of Schools Commissioners,
(“BCBSC”), claiming that BCBSC discriminated
against him on the basis of his race and age. Ciociola also
claims that BCBSC retaliated against him after he
participated in a no-confidence vote against Chief Marshall
before the Court are cross-motions for summary judgment on
all counts and the defendant's motion to dismiss the
plaintiff's retaliation claim. (ECF Nos. 69 and 76). For
the reasons stated below, BCBSC's motions will be granted
and Ciociola's motion will be denied.
P. Ciociola is a 62-year-old white male who, from August 24,
2004, until his retirement on January 1, 2017, was employed
by the defendant, BCBSC, as a school police officer. Ciociola
was never disciplined nor was his work ever noted as
unsatisfactory during his 13-year tenure with the department.
was on the job on March 23, 2012, when he injured his
Achilles tendon. (Defendant's Mot. for Summary Judgment,
(“Def.'s Mot.”) Jones Dep., Ex. D, p. 4 ECF
No. 76). He was diagnosed by Mercy Medical Hospital, which
operates Mercy Medical Center's Public Service Infirmary,
(“PSI”), with a right ankle and Achilles tendon
injury. (Plaintiff's Mot. for Summary Judgment,
(“Pl.'s Mot.”), Ex. 7, ECF No. 69). The visit
would be the first of many. Under the terms of the Collective
Bargaining Agreement (“CBA”) between BCBSC and
the Fraternal Order of Police Baltimore School Police Lodge
No. 5, Inc., (“ the union”), the union to which
Ciociola belonged, a work-related injury that was not the
result of negligence must be examined by BCBSC's
physician. BCBSC has chosen PSI for this work. (Def.'s
Mot., Jones Dep., Ex. D, p. 4).
visited PSI often over the next few years. After each visit
PSI provided Ciociola with discharge instructions that
summarized his visit and ongoing medical treatment and
included PSI's opinion on Ciociola's likely recovery.
Ciociola was required to provide his discharge instructions
to BCBSC after each visit. At his November 30, 2012, visit
Ciociola told PSI that he would likely never return to work
in any capacity. (Def.'s Mot., Ex. I, p. 1).
This statement was turned into a prognosis. The November 30
discharge instructions read: “[i]t is highly unlikely
Mr. Ciociola will return to full-duty.” (Id.
at p. 2). This line became a permanent fixture on each of
Ciociola's discharge instructions until March 11, 2013,
when he was cleared for full-duty, though with a condition.
(Pl.'s Mot., Ex. 40). PSI noted that Ciociola
“[m]ust qualify with weapons, pass defensive tactics
and emergency driving skills” before returning to work.
this period, Ciociola also saw a private doctor named Stuart
Miller. Dr. Miller was consistently more optimistic about
Ciociola's recovery than PSI. He never expressed the same
doubtfulness about Ciociola's likely return to the police
force, and he always cleared Ciociola for work, in either
light or full capacity, sooner than PSI did. Indeed, Dr.
Miller cleared the plaintiff for full duty on March 1, 2013.
(Pl.'s Mot., Ex. 35).
in November 2012, Sergeant Clyde E. Boatwright, President of
the union, received several complaints alleging, among other
things, that the Chief had created a hostile work environment
for white officers. (Pl.'s Mot., Boatwright Dep., Ex. 4,
pp. 42-44). That same month, Sgt. Boatwright told a meeting
of the union that a man named Sergeant Askins reported that
“command” did not want Sgt. Boatwright
“helping the white boys.” (Pl.'s Mot., Ex.
24, p. 2).
December 2012 the union staged an anonymous no-confidence
vote motivated, in part, by claims of discrimination against
white officers. (Def.'s Mot., Boatwright Dep., Ex. EE,
pp. 53-54). Ciociola participated, by collecting votes and
submitting an anonymous vote himself, (Pl.'s Mot.,
Ciociola Dep., Ex. 1, pp. 25-26), but he was not a principal
leader of the movement and did not help with its planning,
(Pl.'s Mot., Boatwright Dep., Ex. 4, pp. 50-52). Chief
Goodwin claims not to have known about Ciociola's
participation in the vote. (Def.'s Mot., Goodwin Dep.,
Ex. FF, p. 91). Ciociola does not dispute that claim, yet he
still attempts to link his participation in the union
movement to the three employment actions he would soon face.
first action came in the form of a letter on December 17,
2012. (Def.'s Mot., Ex. A). BCBSC Board Rule 405.03
empowers the department to ask an officer to accept
reassignment, disability retirement, or service retirement
after that officer has been repeatedly absent or out of work
for a prolonged period of time because of an accident.
(Id.). If an officer refuses to take any of those
three options he may face termination. When BCBSC sent
Ciociola a 405.03 letter he had been out of work for almost
10 months and PSI had just noted in its discharge
instructions that Ciociola was unlikely ever to return to
work. Ciociola never responded to the letter and BCBSC never
enforced it. (Def.'s Mot., Jones Dep., Ex. O, pp.
242-43). Ciociola claims, however, that he has not been paid
since receiving the letter. (Pl.'s Mot., p. 8).
second action also occurred on December 17. It was a payroll
change. (Pl.'s Mot., Ex. 31). BCBSC may only hire as many
officers as there are payroll positions. This rule can cause
personnel shortages if, for example, an officer goes out on
disability while all of BCBSC's payroll spots are filled.
(Def.'s Mot., Jones Dep., Ex. O, pp. 86-89). To avoid
firing an officer out on disability but to also maintain an
effective law enforcement force, the department sometimes
transfers officers to different payroll locations.
(Id.). Importantly, such transfers do not affect an
employee's employment status. (Id.). Nor do they
affect an employee's pay or benefits. (Id.).
last action occurred sometime in February 2013, when Ciociola
was cleared for light duty by Dr. Miller and PSI. When
Ciociola brought the news to Lieutenant Schuch, who was in
charge of administrative and personnel issues for BCBSC,
seeking reinstatement as an officer, he was told that BCBSC
did not want him to return to work until he was cleared for
full-duty status. (Pl.'s Mot., Ex. 1, pp. 76-77).
cleared Ciociola for full-duty service on March 11, 2013.
Ciociola then spoke to Jerome Jones, labor relations manager
for BCBSC, to request his job back. He was rebuffed. Jones
said that he could not rehire Ciociola because his position
had been filled. (Pl.'s Mot., Ex. 1, pp. 81-83). Ciociola
sought help from Sergeant Boatwright. After lobbying on
Ciociola's behalf, Sergeant Boatwright was told by Chief
Goodwin that Ciociola “is slated to be rehired when the
first available School Police Officer position is
available.” (Pl.'s Mot., Ex. 43., p. 1). Ciociola
would just need to attend scheduled trainings to be
recertified under Maryland law. (Id.). He never did.
Suffering from illness, Ciociola cancelled his scheduled
training. (Pl.'s Mot., Ciociola Dep., Ex. 1, pp. 90-91).
Neither party tried to reschedule. (Id.).
filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity
Commission in April 2013. (Pl.'s Mot., Ex. 63). The
complaint included some of the events described above and
alleged race discrimination under Title VII of the Civil
Rights Act of 1964 (“Title VII”) and age
discrimination under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act
(“ADEA”). Retaliation was not mentioned. The EEOC
closed its file on Ciociola's case on March 31, 2015,
stating that it “is unable to conclude that the
information obtained establishes violations of the
statutes.” (Def.'s Mot., Ex. CC).
January 1, 2017, Ciociola retired from the Baltimore City
School Police Force. (Def.'s Mot., Ex. D, p. 6). He had
not been at work for nearly five years. He has sued BCBSC
claiming the reason he received the 405.03 letter, the reason
he was never returned to full duty, and the reason PSI
maintained a doubtful outlook on his recovery ...