United States District Court, D. Maryland
FREDERICK MOTZ, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Gary Popoli ("Popoli") brings this lawsuit against
defendant Board of Trustees of Harford Community College
("HCC") seeking damages for alleged violations of
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ("Title
VII"), 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq.\ 42
U.S.C. § 1981 and the Age Discrimination in Employment
Act ("ADEA"), 29 U.S.C. § 621 et seq.
Now pending is defendant HCC's motion for summary
judgment. (ECF No. 20). The parties have fully briefed the
motion, and no oral argument is necessary. See Local
R. 105.6. For the reasons set forth below, defendant's
motion for summary judgment is granted.
dispute arises out of HCC's allegedly discriminatory
decision not to hire Popoli for a full-time faculty position
for which Popoli applied. (ECF No. 1). Defendant Board of
Trustees of Harford Community College is the entity empowered
under Maryland law to sue and be sued on behalf of Harford
Community College, a community college located in Maryland.
(Id. ¶ 5). Plaintiff Popoli is a male resident
of Maryland who was 57 years old at the time of the events at
issue. (Id. ¶ 4).
began teaching at HCC in 1992 as an adjunct professor of
psychology, (ECF No. 29-4, p. 6). He has a Ph.D. in
Developmental Psychology. (ECF No. 29-14, p. 2). He continued
teaching at the school until the spring of 2014, typically
teaching three class sessions each semester and one in the
summer. (ECF. No. 29-4, p. 6). Within that time period,
Popoli held a temporary full-time position at HCC during the
fall semester of 2011. (ECF No. 29-4, p. 9-10).
October 2013, HCC solicited applications for a tenure track,
full-time psychology faculty position. (ECF No. 29-18, p. 2).
During the selection process, two additional faculty
positions opened up, so the search expanded to fill all three
open positions. (ECF No. 20-26, p. 1). A search committee
("Committee") for HCC handled the applications and
conducted the interviews. (ECF No. 1 ¶ 14). The
Committee had six members: (1) Avery Ward, the hiring
manager; (2) Jan Brewer, Assistant Professor of Sociology at
HCC; (3) Rick Mitchell, Professor of Psychology; (4) Nicole
Hoke-Wilson, Director of Disability and Student Intervention
Services; (5) Orlando Correa, Associate Professor of
Psychology; and (6) Stephanie Hallock, Professor of Political
Science and Coordinator for Global Education. (ECF No. 20-1,
p. 13). The male members of the Committee were in their
sixties or seventies. (ECF No. 20-1, p. 13). The Committee
met at the end of October for an initial meeting to review
search procedures and overview the search process. (ECF No.
20-45, p. 14).
received 54 applications in total, including one from Popoli.
(ECF No. 20-12, p. 1-2). The applicants were rated on a scale
of 1-5, with 5 being the best, on seven criteria: (1)
education, (2) experience, (3) ability to teach psychology
courses using various methods of technologies, (4) experience
developing online materials for face-to-face and online
courses, (5) experience or ability in assessing student
learning and reporting results for institutional
accountability, (6) experience with and understanding of
curriculum development, and (7) quality of application
materials. (ECF No. 20-16, p. 1). Popoli received high
ratings in education and experience, but low marks in areas
such as curriculum development. (ECF No. 20-14, p. 4). He was
rated as the tenth-best overall candidate. (ECF No. 29-17, p.
2). The committee met again in early November and selected
eight candidates to interview, including
Popoli. (ECF No. 29-17, p. 2).
of those selected underwent the first round of
interviews. (ECF No. 20-22, p. 1). Five candidates
were scheduled for one-hour interview slots, while Popoli and
one other candidate were scheduled for forty-five minute
slots. (ECF No. 29-23, p. 2). Two of the candidates
interviewed via Skype while the others, including Popoli,
interviewed in person. (ECF No. 29-23, p. 2). The search
committee posed the same nine questions to all of the
candidates. (ECF No. 29-8, p. 4). The Committee discussed
strengths and concerns of each candidate after each
interview. (ECF 29-8, p. 8). Popoli's interview lasted
about ten minutes. (ECF 20-43, p. 6).
candidates, including Popoli, advanced to the second round of
interviews in January 2014. (ECF No. 29-22, p. 2). One
component of the second interview was a teaching
demonstration where applicants were instructed to give a
fifteen minute lesson on attribution theory and to
"[t]each the lesson as if the Search Committee members
represent your students." (ECF No. 20-27, p. 1). Both
parties agree Popoli's teaching demonstration was not
interactive. (See ECF No. 29-21, p. 7; ECF No. 29-4,
p. 13). By contrast, Committee members noted the candidates
who were ultimately selected for the positions presented
interactive demonstrations. (See ECF No. 29-21).
other component was the second interview itself, which
immediately followed the teaching demonstration. (ECF No.
20-27, p. 1). After the second round of interviews, the
search committee recommended four of the six remaining
candidates as finalists for the vacant
positions. (ECF No. 29-21, p. 2). Popoli was not
among the finalists. (Id.). From the finalist list,
three female applicants, aged 28, 31, and 44* were selected
to fill the vacant positions. (ECF No. 1 ¶ 17). Those
selected were Roof-Ray, Mosser, and Vithlani. (ECF No. 20-29,
p. 1). None of these applicants had a doctoral degree,
whereas Popoli did. (ECF No. 1 ¶ 17). Popoli was
notified of his non-selection in a letter in February 2014.
(Id. ¶ 19). This letter did not recite a
specific reason for his non-selection. (Id.).
March 31, 2015, the EEOC issued a Determination finding there
was reasonable cause to believe Popoli was denied a full-time
psychology faculty position because of his age and sex. (ECF
No. 1 ¶ 22). Popoli filed a complaint in the District of
Maryland on February 17, 2016, alleging two counts of
discrimination in connection with his non-selection for the
vacant positions. (Id.). First, Popoli claims his
non-selection was motivated, at least in part, by his sex,
constituting unlawful discrimination in violation of Title
VII (Count 1). (Id. ¶¶ 28, 30). Second,
Popoli claims his non-selection was based on his age,
constituting unlawful discrimination in violation of the ADEA
(Count 2). (Id. ¶ 38). HCC moved for summary
judgment on April 25, 2017. (ECF No. 20).
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(c), a court must grant
summary judgment "if the pleadings, depositions, answers
to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the
affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to
any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to
judgment as a matter of law." See also Anderson v.
Liberty Lobby Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247 (1986). A genuine
issue of material fact exists where, "the evidence is
such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the
nonmoving party." Id., The party seeking
summary judgment bears the initial burden of demonstrating
the absence of a genuine dispute of material fact. See
Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). When
reviewing a motion for summary judgment, the court must take
all facts and inferences in the light most favorable to the
non-moving party. Scott v. Harris, 550 U.S. 372, 378
party opposing summary judgment must, however, "do more
than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to
the material facts." Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v.
Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986); see
also In re Apex Express Corp., 190 F.3d 624, 633 (4th
Cir. 1999). The non-movant "'may not rest upon the
mere allegations or denials of [his] pleadings, ' but
rather must 'set forth specific facts showing that there
is a genuine issue for trial.'" Bouchat v.
Baltimore Ravens Football Club, Inc., 346 F.3d 514, 522
(4th Cir. 2003) (alteration in original) (quoting
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e)); see also Adickes v. S. H. Kress
& Co., 398 U.S. 144, 160 (1970). A court should
enter summary judgment when a party fails to make a showing
sufficient to establish elements essential to a party's
case, and on which the party will bear the burden of proof at
trial. Celotex Corp., 477 U.S. at 322.
asserts two claims against defendant: sex discrimination in
violation of Title VII (Count I) and age discrimination in
violation of the ADEA (Count II). In response, defendant
argues its hiring decision was not discriminatory and
plaintiffs age discrimination claim under the ADEA is barred
by the Eleventh Amendment to the United States Constitution.
I consider each claim in turn.
Title VII Sex ...