United States District Court, D. Maryland
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER RE: SUMMARY JUDGMENT
J. Garbis, United States District Judge.
Court has before it Defendant Housing Authority of Baltimore
City's Renewed Motion to Dismiss Complaint As Amended or
In the Alternative For Summary Judgment [ECF No. 20],
Defendant, Wade Johnson's, Motion to Dismiss for Failure
to State A Claim and/or for Summary Judgment [ECF No. 23],
and the materials submitted relating thereto. The Court finds
that a hearing is not necessary.
Nadine Lee Young (“Plaintiff” or
“Young”), an employee of Defendant Housing
Authority of Baltimore City (“HABC”) was, during
a portion of her employment, supervised by Defendant Wade
alleges that she was sexually harassed by Johnson during her
employment. She asserts claims against both Defendants for
alleged violations of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, the
Maryland Fair Employment Practices Act, the Due Process
Clause of the U.S. Constitution and the Maryland
Constitution, and the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S.
Constitution and Maryland Constitution. She alleges that HABC
negligently hired, trained, retained, and supervised Johnson,
and that HABC is liable under a theory of negligent
entrustment. She also asserts an assault claim against
Facts As Alleged by Young
has been employed by HABC since 2003 as a maintenance worker.
Amended Complaint (“AC”) ¶ 12, ECF No. 11-4.
2012, Young went to the Duncanwood facility of HABC to
receive some equipment for work and met Defendant Johnson. At
the time, Johnson called her “Miss Dimples” in a
“very suggestive” manner. AC ¶ 13; Aff.
Young ¶ 4, ECF No. 11-2.
about October 2015, Young worked at the Gilmor Homes facility
of HABC. Johnson was “occasionally” at Gilmor
Homes, and Young alleges that his sexual harassment
“became worse” in the following months. AC ¶
15. He became more “aggressive, ” and every time
he saw her he “took the opportunity to make sexually
suggestive or lewd comments or propositions to [her].”
Aff. Young ¶ 6, ECF No. 11-2.
early 2016, Johnson officially became Young's supervisor
at Gilmor Homes, and his sexual harassment became “a
daily problem.” AC ¶ 17. Starting at the end of
2015, Johnson “would repeatedly come to Ms. Young's
desk and whisper lewd comments into her ear and ask to take
her on dates.” Id. ¶ 17. See
also Aff. Young ¶ 9, ECF No. 11-2. He would
“‘talk with his hands'” in such a
manner that he would place his hands on Ms. Young while
making such comments. AC ¶ 17, Aff. Young ¶ 12, ECF
No. 11-2. Frequently, he would “invade Ms. Young's
personal space” by coming into her small file room
while she was working. AC ¶ 18. See also Aff.
Young ¶ 11, ECF No. 11-2. During one of these times,
Johnson “reach[ed] over her body with his arms on
either side of her” when showing her something on the
computer. AC ¶ 19, Aff. Young ¶ 13, ECF No. 11-2.
Young feared that Johnson would “one day
inappropriately touch her in a sexual manner.” AC
¶ 20. See also Aff. Young ¶ 19, ECF No.
date allegedly near his birthday, Johnson offered to take
Young and another employee on a cruise, stating that he
“could make wonders happen on that cruise.”
Id. ¶ 21. See also Aff. Young ¶
15, ECF No. 11-2.
specific time was alleged-Johnson would ask Young if she was
“ready, ” which she understood to mean
“ready for a sexual encounter with him.” AC
¶ 22. See also Aff. Young ¶ 7, ECF No.
11-2. This occurred on one occasion in front of another
employee. Aff. Young ¶ 17, ECF No. 11-2.
about February 2016, Johnson told Young that “I would
love to taste that.” AC ¶ 23. Later that month,
Young took time off work for surgery, and upon her return on
April 28, 2016, Johnson told her that she would be working at
the Perkins Project (another HABC facility) instead of Gilmor
Homes. Id. ¶ 24. He gave her his phone number
and asked her to call him, which Young “understood to
mean that she should contact him for a date or sexual
alleges that Johnson frequently engaged in this type of
activity and may have been the subject of complaints from
other HABC employees in the past. AC ¶¶ 14, 16, 26,
29, 35. See also Aff. Dawson, ECF No. 11-3, Aff.
Young ¶ 16, ECF No. 11-2. Young alleges that Johnson had
a “previous history of workplace sexual harassment,
” was “fired from a previous job in the public
schools for sexual harassment, ” and “had pending
sexual harassment cases at the Health Department.” AC
alleges that, at some unspecified time “early on”
in her interactions with Johnson, she contacted her Union
representatives regarding the sexual harassment. Id.
¶ 25, Aff. Young ¶ 21, ECF No. 11-2. She also spoke
to her supervisor, Vernelle Gibson, in May 2016 regarding
Johnson's behavior. Following this discussion, a hearing
was held and Johnson was terminated from his HABC employment.
AC ¶ 28. Following Johnson's termination, Young
returned to work at Gilmor Homes. Id. ¶ 39.
filed her EEOC Charge of Discrimination on December 8, 2016.
Def.'s Mot. Ex. 2A at 70, ECF No. 20-7. The EEOC issued a
Dismissal and Notice of Rights letter on December 16, 2016.
AC ¶ 30. Young filed the Complaint in the instant case
on March 15, 2017. ECF No. 1. On May 18, 2017, she filed the
Amended Complaint (“AC”) [ECF No. 11], asserting
ten causes of action:
Civil Rights Act Hostile Environment Sexual
Civil Rights Act Quid Pro Quo Sexual Harassment
Civil Rights Act Due Process Claim
Civil Rights Act Equal Protection Claim
Sexual Harassment Under Maryland Fair Employment
Practices Act Code § 20-606: Hostile Work
Environment and Quid Pro Quo
Maryland Constitution Article 24 Due Process Claim
Maryland Constitution Article 24 Equal Protection
Negligent Hiring, Training, Retention &
LEGAL STANDARD FOR MOTIONS FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT
Defendants have filed motions to dismiss, or in the
alternative, motions for summary judgment. Both sides have
also submitted materials in addition to the Amended Complaint
regarding these motions. The Court has not excluded these
materials from consideration.
“matters outside the pleading are presented to and not
excluded by the court, the [12(b)(6)] motion shall be treated
as one for summary judgment and disposed of as provided in
Rule 56.” Laughlin v. Metro. Washington Airports
Auth., 149 F.3d 253, 260-61 (4th Cir. 1998);
the Court has relied on supplemental affidavits and documents
filed outside of the pleadings, it will treat the pending
motions as motions for summary judgment.
motion for summary judgment shall be granted if the pleadings
and supporting documents “show that there is no
genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is
entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P.
well-established principles pertinent to summary judgment
motions can be distilled to a simple statement: [t]he Court
may look at the evidence presented in regard to a motion for
summary judgment through the non-movant's rose-colored
glasses, but must view it realistically. After so doing, the
essential question is whether a reasonable fact finder could
return a verdict for the non-movant or whether the movant
would, at trial, be entitled to judgment as a matter of law.
See, e.g., Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477
U.S. 317, 322-323 (1986); Anderson v. Liberty Lobby,
Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986); Shealy v.
Winston, 929 F.2d 1009, 1012 (4th Cir. 1991). Thus, in
order to defeat a motion for summary judgment, “the
party opposing the motion must present evidence of
specific facts from which the finder of fact could reasonably
find for him or her.” Mackey v. Shalala, 43
F.Supp.2d 559, 564 (D. Md. 1999) (emphasis added).
evaluating a motion for summary judgment, the Court must bear
in mind that the “[s]ummary judgment procedure is
properly regarded not as a disfavored procedural shortcut,
but rather as an integral part of the Federal Rules as a
whole, which are designed ‘to secure the just, speedy
and inexpensive determination of every action.'”
Celotex, 477 U.S. at 327 (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 1).
Sexual Harassment: Title VII and the Maryland Fair
Employment Practices Act
Counts I, II and V, Plaintiff asserts claims for sexual
harassment under Title VII and the Maryland Fair Employment
Practices Act (“FEPA”). She contends that
Defendant Johnson subjected her to, and Defendant HABC
allowed, quid pro quo sexual harassment and a
hostile work environment.
response, Defendants argue that Young (1) failed to timely
exhaust her administrative remedies, (2) failed to plead a
claim for sexual harassment upon which relief can be granted,
and (3) that HABC is protected from liability by an
affirmative defense that it exercised reasonable care to
prevent and promptly correct any sexually harassing behavior.
Exhaustion of Administrative Remedies
bring several procedural challenges to Plaintiff's
claims, arguing that Plaintiff did not file her EEOC charge
on time, that Plaintiff's EEOC Charge does not cover the
actions now alleged in the Amended Complaint, that
Plaintiff's claims are barred by the statute of
limitations under FEPA, and that Plaintiff did not give
proper Local Government Tort Claims Act (“LGTCA”)
notice for some of the claims.
Timing of EEOC Charge
exhaust her administrative remedies before filing a Title VII
action, Young must first properly “bring a charge
with the EEOC.” Smith v. First Union Nat.
Bank, 202 F.3d 234, 247 (4th Cir. 2000). Defendant
argues that Young's EEOC Charge was not timely filed.
filed her EEOC Charge against Defendant Johnson on December
8, 2016. Def.'s Mot. Ex. 2A at 70, ECF No. 20-7.
Defendants contend that any alleged sexual harassment
incident occurred more than 300 days prior thereto,
i.e., before February 12, 2016. If so, the Charge
would be outside of the 300 day time limit for EEOC filing
and would be time barred.
Amended Complaint, Plaintiff alleges that in February 2016,
Wade Johnson stated to her “I would love to taste
that.” AC ¶ 23. This is consistent with her EEOC
Charge, which alleges that she was “subjected to sexual
harassment by [her] Supervisor Wade Johnson” “in
or about February 2016.” Def.'s Mot. Ex. 2A at 70,
ECF No. 20-7.
Young has not specified the exact date in February 2016 of
the alleged incident, the record does not show whether the
EEOC Charge was, or was not, filed within 300 days of the
alleged statement. Hence, on the current record, the Court
can only conclude that based on Young's allegations it is
possible that the December 8, 2016 EEOC filing was timely,
but recognizes the existence of a factual issue regarding the
the Court will assume for present purposes that the EEOC
Charge was timely filed. If the alleged February 2016
incident is within 300 days of Plaintiff's EEOC Charge,
Young's claim that the incident was part of a continuing
violation including other alleged incidents presents a
plausible claim that evidence of the alleged related sexual
harassment incidents could be considered in connection with
her hostile work environment claim. See Gilliam v. S.C.
Dep't of Juvenile Justice, 474 F.3d 134, 140 (4th
Cir. 2007) (Under the continuing violation doctrine, “a
hostile work environment claim ‘may appropriately
extend ... to acts that occurred before the relevant
limitations period [if] the hostile work environment
continued within the limitations period as
current state of the record, Defendants are not entitled to
summary judgment dismissing Young's sexual harassment
claims on this basis.
Content of EEOC Charge
argue that the Amended Complaint asserts claims that were not
included in the EEOC Charge. Specifically, the EEOC Charge
states that Johnson said he wanted to “[t]aste
this” and would “rock [her] world” if Young
went on a cruise with him, Def.'s Mot. Ex. 2A at 70, ECF
No. 20-7, while her Amended Complaint contains additional
allegations of comments and actions that Johnson took to
sexually harass her.
Court finds Plaintiff's EEOC Charge is broad enough to
encompass the more specific allegations that were made in her
Amended Complaint. In her EEOC Charge, she states that
“I was subjected to sexual harassment by my Supervisor
Wade Johnson.” Def.'s Mot. Ex. 2A at 70, ECF No.
20-7. She listed two specific incidents as examples, but in
context her sexual harassment charge is not reasonably
limited to the two specifically stated examples. See
Sydnor v. Fairfax Cty., Va., 681 F.3d 591, 594 (4th Cir.
2012) (explaining that the exhaustion requirement should not
become a “tripwire for hapless plaintiffs” and
understanding that the EEOC charges are initiated by
laypersons, not lawyers).
Statute of Limitations under FEPA
argue that any claim under Maryland's FEPA statute is
time-barred because it must have been filed within six months
of the date on which the alleged discriminatory act occurred.
FEPA statute provides several different routes for dispute
resolution. A plaintiff seeking to file a complaint with the
Maryland Commission on Human Relations (“MCHR”)
has six months from the alleged discriminatory act to do so.
See Md. Code Ann., State Gov't § 20-1004;
Md. Code Regs. 14.03.01.03. However, a plaintiff electing to
bring a civil action has possible relief from the six month
rule under Md. Code Ann., State Gov't § 20-1013,
[A] complainant may bring a civil action against the
respondent alleging an unlawful employment practice, if:
(1) the complainant initially filed a timely administrative
charge or a complaint under federal, State, or local law
alleging an unlawful employment practice by the respondent;
(2) at least 180 days have elapsed since the filing of the
administrative charge or complaint; and
(3) the civil action is filed within 2 years after the
alleged unlawful employment ...