United States District Court, D. Maryland, Southern Division
ANGELA M. MILLER, Plaintiff,
KRAMON & GRAHAM PA, Defendant.
J. HAZEL UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
an employment discrimination action, in which Plaintiff
Angela M. Miller's remaining claim alleges that she was
terminated by her former employer. Defendant Kramon &
Graham PA ("K&G"), based on her age in
violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act
("ADEA"). ECF No. 8 at 11. Presently pending before the
Court is Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment, ECF No.
37. No hearing is necessary. See Loc. R. 105.6 (D.
Md. 2016). For the following reasons, Defendants' Motion
for Summary Judgment is granted.
a Caucasian female, began working at K&G in 1986. ECF No.
40-7 ¶ 2. She left the firm in 1988 and returned in
1992, and began working full time at K&G in 1999.
Id. Plaintiff was hired by K&G's Office
Manager, Cathy Marks,  as a member of K&G's
administrative team. See id.; ECF No. 40-1 at 2. For
the entirety of her tenure at K&G, Plaintiff worked under
Marks, and her work load was managed by Marks. ECF No. 40-1
at 2. On January 31, 2012, K&G terminated Plaintiffs
employment. ECF No. 40-7 ¶ 11; ECF No. 40-2 at 18. At
the time she was terminated, Plaintiff was 49 years old; she
was subsequently replaced by a younger Caucasian female, who
was 29 or 30 years old when she was hired. ECF No. 40-1 at 5;
ECF No. 40-2 at 18. The parties disagree regarding the
circumstances that led up to Plaintiffs termination. as
affidavit, Plaintiff states that in January 2011, she was
moved into a new office that was half the size. Id.
¶ 4. She did not receive a pay raise in 2011, and was
told that she had "capped out" her salary.
Id. ¶ 7. Plaintiff continued to follow up on
the issue of her raise, and even emailed the managing
principal, David Shuster, on December 23, 2011, asking to
meet to discuss her salary. Id. ¶ 10. Rather
than receiving a raise, Plaintiff was terminated on January
31, 2012; she states that "[n]o reason was given for
[her] termination'" and she was "never given an
exit interview." Id. ¶ 11. Plaintiff
states that she never received any negative feedback
regarding her work performance, and was never given an
evaluation at all. Id. ¶¶ 9, 12. This fact
was confirmed by Marks in her deposition, who explained that
they "never did written evaluations for anyone."
ECF No. 40-2 at 13. In fact, Plaintiff attests to a number of
instances in which she received positive feedback regarding
her work. See ECF No. 40-7 ¶ 9 (attesting that
two attorneys and two principals told her that she had done a
good job on work assignments). Plaintiff believes that she
was fired "based on [her] age because [she] was replaced
by a less experienced" and younger "staff
person." Id. ¶ 14.
evidence submitted by K&G paints a different picture.
Multiple K&G employees testified or stated that Plaintiff
was terminated because of concerns with her workplace
attitude and performance. See, e.g., ECF No. 40-1
(K&G interrogatory responses, stating that
"Plaintiff was terminated due to her inability to
cooperate with coworkers and others, insubordination, and
because her conduct and demeanor were detrimental to the
firm."); ECF No. 40-2 at 9 (Marks testifying that
Plaintiff was terminated because "she was no longer
keeping [K&G's] best interests at heart just by her
demeanor, the way she treated staff'); ECF No. 37-14
(affidavit of managing principal Philip M. Andrews,
describing how employees complained about Plaintiffs
workplace attitude and job performance). On multiple
occasions beginning in 2009, K&G principals and other
employees complained about Plaintiffs behavior in the
workplace and her attitude towards other employees and her
responsibilities. In her deposition, Marks testified that in
2009 she began receiving verbal complaints from principals
regarding Plaintiff. ECF No. 37-4 at 5. Between five and ten
principals complained that Plaintiff "was very curt and
very rude" and that there "were some disruptions
with the way she communicated with other staff members."
Id. at 5-6.
points to several instances in which Plaintiff either behaved
inappropriately in the workplace, failed to adequately
complete work assignments, or both. One of the principals,
Geoffrey Genth, submitted an affidavit describing how
Plaintiff "spent an excessive amount of time on personal
phone calls throughout the workday." ECF No. 37-5 ¶
2. The calls were "personal in nature and had nothing to
do with her work." Id. These calls "were
rambling, " "would often extend for more than
thirty minutes per call" and often "began right
after she reported to work in the morning." Id.
Genth found these calls to be "distracting" and
"was aware that other attorneys and assistants were also
distracted by them." Id. at 3. On January 26,
2012, Andrew Jay Graham emailed the managing principal, David
Shuster, and complained that
Something has to be done about [Plaintiff]. For months if not
years she has been talking on the phone about personal
things, having nothing to do with her work, endlessly and in
a way that is both annoying and distracting to those of us
who are working. Geoff has mentioned the problem in the past.
... I have the distinct impression that the other assistants
are also annoyed by her attitude toward her work, if she has
any to do, and her strange set of priorities. I don't
like to get anyone in trouble, but the current situation is
truly absurd. [Plaintiff] is being paid to chat with her
friends on the phone.
ECF No. 37-7. In his affidavit, Genth further describes how
on one occasion in late 2011 or early 2012, he needed
Plaintiff to validate a "distinguished
client['s]" parking ticket after "a lengthy
meeting." ECF No. 37-5 ¶ 8. At the time, Plaintiff
was "in the middle of a casual, personal phone
conversation." Id. In response to Genth's
request that Plaintiff validate the parking ticket, Plaintiff
"waved [him] off' with "a dismissive hand
gesture." Id. Genth found this
"unacceptable, " "unprofessional,
inappropriate, and offensive" and reported the incident
to Shuster and Marks. Id.
another occasion, Plaintiff also chose to ignore the requests
of her office supervisors. On January 12, 2012, Marks sent an
email to the support staff with a subject line of
"Purple Friday." ECF No. 37-8. Marks explained that
an employee had asked "whether everyone can wear
Ravens' clothing tomorrow." Id. at
In response to the request, Marks clarified that while
employees were "free to wear purple" (the team
color of the Baltimore Ravens), employees were not permitted
to wear "Ravens jerseys, t-shirts, etc."
Id. Rather than adhere to the policy, Plaintiff
arrived at K&G the next day wearing a t-shirt with a
Baltimore Ravens logo on it. Id. Furthermore,
Plaintiff then complained about the dress code policy and
Marks' email publicly to other employees. ECF No. 40-2 at
12. Marks found this behavior objectionable. Id.
addition to her workplace demeanor, K&G points to two
instances in which principals were highly dissatisfied with
Plaintiffs work. On one occasion, Marks blamed Plaintiff for
an incident that occurred at K&G's Christmas party.
Marks and Plaintiff worked together to select a parking lot
for the staff to park at, for which the firm would hand out
prepaid parking vouchers. ECF No. 40-2 at 19. According to
Marks, "[Plaintiff] had done the research" into the
parking lot, and then Marks "did a memo telling about
how the parking would work for this party." Id.
Marks sent the memo to Plaintiff to confirm the details,
which Plaintiff did. Id. Once they arrived at the
party, Marks pointed out to Plaintiff that the vouchers did
not match the garage that Marks had parked at. Id.
Rather than review the tickets, Plaintiff simply retorted
that "you're at the wrong lot, " and continued
to give out the same vouchers to employees. Id. It
turned out that the lot described in the memo- which
Plaintiff confirmed for Marks-did not match the vouchers that
Plaintiff obtained; this resulted in a significant
"backup at the lot" at the end of the night, with
"people trying to get out without proper
another occasion, Plaintiff failed to complete a work
assignment for a principal in a timely manner. In May 2011
the principal, Cynthia A. Berman, asked Plaintiff to retrieve
and deliver a file for her. ECF No. 37-9. Plaintiff failed to
accomplish this task in a timely manner, and Berman had to
ask another employee to retrieve the file. Id. This
was brought to the attention of the managing principal. ECF
No. 37-6 at 4-5.
on January 31, 2012, Plaintiff was terminated from K&G.
ECF No. 40-2 at 18. Although some previous employees who were
terminated had been permitted to continue working at K&G
while they sought new employment, Plaintiffs termination was
effective immediately. In his affidavit, Philip M. Andrews,
K&G's chairman at the time Plaintiff was terminated,
explained that this occurred because Plaintiff "had
access to sensitive accounting and personnel information,
" and "the Firm was concerned that she would
continue to conduct herself unprofessionally and continue to
be a distraction." ECF No. 37-14 at 3. While K&G did
not allow her to continue working while she sought new
employment, K&G did offer Plaintiff a severance payment
"to assist her financially during her search for work
her termination, Plaintiff brought the pending claim against
K&G, filing her initial Complaint on April 14, 2015, ECF
No. 1, and amending it on October 13, 2015, ECF No.
In her Complaint, Plaintiff alleged that K&G was liable
for age discrimination under the Age Discrimination in
Employment Act ("ADEA") (Count I), race
discrimination under Title VII (Count II), race
discrimination under 42 U.S.C. § 1981 (Count III), age
discrimination under the Maryland Fair Employment Practices
Act ("MFEPA") (Count IV), and race discrimination
under the MFEPA (Count V). ECF No. 14. On August 16, 2016,
the Court granted in part K&G's Motion to Dismiss,
ECF No. 21, dismissing Counts II, IV and V. ECF No. 25.
Following discovery, K&G moved for summary judgment on
the remaining counts, ECF No. 37, which Plaintiff opposed,
ECF No. 40. In her opposition, Plaintiff withdrew her ...