United States District Court, D. Maryland
JOSEPH M. MOTT, Plaintiff,
ACCENTURE, LLP, Defendant.
XINIS UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Joseph Mott (“Mott”) brings this employment
action against his former employer, Defendant Accenture, LLP
(“Accenture”). Mott alleges in his Amended
Complaint that Accenture discriminated against him on the
basis of age, gender, national origin, and mixed motives
during his employment; that Accenture illegally retaliated
against him for engaging in protected activities; that his
discharge from Accenture was unlawful in light of clear
mandates of Maryland public policy; and that Accenture
illegally withheld a bonus to which Mott is entitled. ECF No.
35 (“Amend. Comp.”).
Court previously denied Accenture's motion to dismiss and
directed Mott to amend his complaint to cure identified
deficiencies. See ECF No. 30. The Court also
preliminarily entertained Accenture's grounds for
dismissal of Count VI of Mott's Complaint, a claim for
wrongful discharge against a clear mandate of public policy,
but ultimately gave Mott time to consider whether it would
pursue the Count. If Mott elected to persist in Count VI, the
Court granted Mott leave to respond to Accenture's Motion
to Dismiss as to that count.
August 6, 2017, Mott filed an Amended Complaint that included
Count VI. Amend. Comp. ¶¶ 68-76. Mott also
responded to Accenture's arguments for dismissal of Count
VI on August 16, 2017. ECF No. 38. Accenture replied on
August 30, 2017. ECF No. 39. The Court now must decide
whether to permit this claim to go forward. For the reasons
discussed below, Count VI is DISMISSED.
case has been before this Court previously, and the facts
alleged are largely unchanged. See ECF No. 30. Mott,
who is now 64, is a resident of Maryland who is of American
national origin. Mott worked remotely from Maryland for
Accenture, an Illinois limited liability partnership
qualified to do business in the State of Maryland. Amend.
Comp. ¶¶ 1, 2, 6. In his Amended Complaint, Mott
alleges that several of his supervisors and coworkers,
including Charlotte Guillorit, a French national located in
France, id. ¶ 9, Abe Zachariah, id.
¶ 10, Hollis Chen, id. ¶ 11, Arnaud
Mottet, of French national origin, id. ¶ 11,
Fauzia Zaman-Malik, id. ¶ 15, Catherine Walter,
a French national who lives in Paris, id.
¶¶ 24, 36, Michael Camarotta id. ¶
29, and Toni Corban id. ¶ 52, treated Mott in a
hostile and discriminatory fashion, retaliated against him
for protesting discrimination and hostility, and/or knowingly
permitted others' hostile and discriminatory behavior
toward Mott to continue. Mott also alleges that he was passed
over for promotion within the company, with the position
instead going to a younger, female, and non-American
candidate. Id. ¶ 24. Mott further alleges that
he was subject to an escalating pattern of alleged hostile
and discriminatory conduct which culminated in his
termination over the protests that Mott had lodged with
Accenture leadership, including to Chad Jerdee, General
Counsel and Chief Compliance Officer, and Patrick Rowe,
Deputy General Counsel for the division in which Mott worked
and Guillorit's supervisor. Id. ¶¶ 46,
VI specifically avers that Accenture's discriminatory
practices, undertaken by its attorneys as supervisors, gives
rise to a claim for the tort of wrongful discharge as against
Maryland public policy. Id. ¶¶ 68-76. Mott
points to the American Bar Association's Model Rules of
Professional Conduct (“Model Rules”) 8.4 and the
Maryland Attorney's Rules of Professional Conduct
(“MLRPC”) Rule 19-308.4 as the sources of the
public policy contravened by his discharge. Id.
¶¶ 69, 70. In relevant part, Model Rule 8.4
provides that it is professional misconduct for a lawyer to
“engage in conduct that the lawyer knows or reasonably
should know is harassment or discrimination on the basis of
race, sex, religion, national origin, ethnicity, disability,
age, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status or
socioeconomic status in conduct related to the practice of
law.” ABA Model Rules of Prof'l Conduct R. 8.4(g).
The MLRPC, in turn, provides that it is professional
misconduct for an attorney to “knowingly manifest by
words or conduct when acting in a professional capacity bias
or prejudice based upon race, sex, religion, national origin,
disability, age, sexual orientation or socioeconomic status
when such action is prejudicial to the administration of
justice.” Md. R. Attorneys R. 19-308.4(e). Mott further
alleges that the Model Rules and the MLRPC constitute a clear
mandate of public policy under Maryland law that gives rise
to a heightened duties of care, which Accenture's
attorneys violated by discriminating against him. Amend.
Comp. ¶¶ 71, 72, 74.
counters that the Model Rules are not applicable in Maryland,
that the Model Rules and the MLRPC do not constitute clear
mandates of Maryland public policy, and that Mott may not
recover under the tort of wrongful discharge because the same
conduct can be addressed adequately by statutory remedies.
ECF No. 39 at 3-4, 6-8. Accenture further argues that because
the MLRPC expressly states that the rules do not give rise to
a cause of action against attorneys, neither can it provide
the basis for a wrongful discharge claim. Id. at
3-4. Accenture also points out that Mott has not alleged that
the MLRPC apply to any of the Accenture employees about whom
he complains. Id. at 2-3.
Standard of Review
reviewing a motion to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of
Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), a court must determine whether the
complaint contains facts sufficient to state a claim to
relief that is plausible on its face. Bell Atl. Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). Factual allegations
in the complaint are taken as true, but a court need not
accept a plaintiff's legal conclusions, even when they
are couched as factual allegations. Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). A plaintiff must plead
facts to support each element of the claim to satisfy the
standard. See McCleary-Evans v. Maryland Dept. of
Transp., State Highway Admin., 780 F.3d 582, 585 (4th
The Tort of Wrongful Discharge in Violation of Public
an at-will employment relationship in general may be
terminated for any reason by either the employee or the
employer, Maryland recognizes a limited exception to this
rule when an employee's discharge “contravenes some
clear mandate of public policy.” Adler v. Am.
Standard Corp., 291 Md. 31, 35-36, 47 (Md.Ct.App. 1981);
see also Porterfield v. Mascari II, Inc., 374 Md.
402, 422-23 (Md.Ct.App. 2003). To state a claim for wrongful
discharge in violation of public policy, a plaintiff must
allege plausibly (1) that he was discharged, (2) that the
basis for the discharge violated some clear mandate of public
policy, and (3) that a nexus exists between the
plaintiff's allegedly protected conduct and the decision
to discharge him. See Yuan v. Johns Hopkins Univ.,
452 Md. 436, 451 (Md.Ct.App. 2017) (internal marks and
citation omitted). Importantly, the public policy which the
plaintiff alleges provides the basis for the wrongful
discharge claim cannot provide its own cause of action.
Makovi v. Sherwin-Williams Co., 316 Md. 603, 605
(1989). This is so because the purpose of the tort of
wrongful discharge is “to provide a remedy for
otherwise unremedied violations of public policy.”
Porterfield, 374 Md. at 423.
initial matter, Count VI cannot survive unless “a clear
mandate of public policy” was “contravened by the
discharge.” Porterfield, 374 Md. at 423.
Consequently, the Court must first determine whether ...