United States District Court, D. Maryland
Lipton Hollander United States District Judge
employment discrimination suit, self-represented plaintiff
Ying-Jun Chen, who is Chinese-American, filed suit against
his former employers, the Maryland Health Care Commission
(“MHCC”) and the Maryland Department of Health
and Mental Hygiene (“MDHMH, ” “DHMH”
or the “Department”),  as well as several
individuals in their official capacities: the former
Secretary of MDHMH, Van T. Mitchell; the Acting Executive
Director of MHCC, Michael (“Ben”) Steffen; and
the Director of Administration for MHCC, Bridget Zombro
(collectively, the “Individual Defendants”).
See ECF 14 (“Amended
Complaint”). Chen alleges that MHCC terminated his
employment as a result of discrimination based on national
origin, in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of
1964 (“Title VII”), codified, as amended, at 42
U.S.C. §§ 2000e et seq.
have moved for summary judgment (ECF 48), supported by a
memorandum of law (ECF 48-1) (collectively, the
“Motion”) and many exhibits. See ECF
48-3 through ECF 48-21. Chen opposes the Motion (ECF 50,
“Opposition”) and has also provided multiple
exhibits. See ECF 50-1 through ECF 50-19. Defendants
replied (ECF 51, “Reply”) and submitted two
additional exhibits. See ECF 51-1; ECF 51-2.
Motion is fully briefed, and no hearing is necessary to
resolve it. See Local Rule 105.6. For the reasons
that follow, I shall grant the Motion
Factual and Procedural Background
was born in China. ECF 14, ¶ 1. He moved to the United
States in 1990 to pursue graduate studies (id.,
¶ 11) and in 2007 he became a naturalized U.S. citizen.
Id. ¶ 13. MDHMH is a principal department of
the Maryland state government. ECF 14, ¶ 14. MHCC is an
independent commission that functions within MDHMH.
Id. ¶ 16. In December 2009, MHCC hired Chen as
a “Health Policy Analyst-Advanced.” ECF 48-4,
¶ 2; see also ECF 50-1 at 2 (letter from the
Chief of MHCC Employment Services to Chen, dated December 10,
“Health Policy Analyst-Advanced, ” Chen was
required, inter alia, to conduct “studies on
relevant policy issues regarding health care access,
utilization and costs using large data files with minimal
supervision.” ECF 48-5 (plaintiff's Position
Description) at 1. Chen acknowledged receipt of his position
description. See ECF 50-1 at 7 (Certified Receipt of
Position Description). He satisfactorily completed the
180-day probationary period on June 16, 2010. ECF 50-2 at
2-3. However, Chen was terminated on January 18, 2012.
See ECF 52-1 (Notice of Termination). At that time,
he was still classified as Health Policy Analyst- Advanced.
See ECF 52-1 at 2.
plaintiff's employment, Mitchell was Secretary of MDHMH.
ECF 14, ¶ 15. He resigned in December 2016, and was
succeeded by Robert R. Neall. Steffen was the Acting
Executive Director of the MHCC, and the Director of
MHCC's Center for Analysis and Information Services. ECF
14, ¶ 17; see also ECF 52-3 at 3-14 (documents
attached to plaintiff's Notice of Disciplinary Action,
dated November 9, 2011). Zombro is the Director of
Administration for MHCC. ECF 48-4 (Zombro Affidavit), ¶
1; see also ECF 52-2 (Memorandum from Zombro to
Chen, dated December 7, 2010) at 3. According to Chen, Zombro
reports to Steffen. ECF 14, ¶ 18.
at MHCC, plaintiff had several supervisors, some of whom
overlapped. Linda Bartnyska, the Chief of Costs and Quality
for MHCC (ECF 52-3 at 10, ¶ 2), was Chen's
“immediate supervisor.” ECF 14, ¶ 43.
Bartnyska supervised plaintiff from at least December 2009 to
July 2011. See ECF 48-7 (Mid-Cycle PEP Evaluation,
dated December 2010); ECF 48-8 (End-of-Cycle PEP Evaluation,
dated July 2011); see also ECF 48-5 at 1; ECF 52-3
at 10 (memorandum from Zombro to Chen, dated November 3,
2011). It is not clear when, if at any point before
Chen's termination, Bartnyska ceased supervising
Ringel began to supervise Chen in January 2011, when Chen was
moved from the position of Health Policy Analyst-Advanced to
the position of Data Processing Programmer. See ECF
48-8 at 5 (unsigned and undated document attached to
plaintiff's 2011 End-Of-Cycle PEP Evaluation); see
also ECF 52-3 at 10. It appears that Ringel ceased
supervising plaintiff in June 2011, when Ringel retired from
MHCC. See ECF 50-13 at 3 (email from Chen to
Steffen, dated December 26, 2011).
LaBrecque is the Chief of Database Development and
Applications for the MHCC. See ECF 52-3 at 7 (email
from LaBrecque to Steffen, dated November 3, 2011). At some
point in 2011, LaBrecque also began supervising plaintiff as
to his “programming” assignments. ECF 14, ¶
59; ECF 52-3 at 7.
September 21, 2010, Zombro wrote a “Memorandum of
Verbal Counseling” to Chen, with copies to Steffen and
Bartnyska. See ECF 48-19 at 1 (Memorandum of Verbal
Counseling). The subject line of the memorandum is:
“Insubordination.” Id. In the body of
the memorandum, Zombro asserted that Chen had been given an
assignment at “the beginning of the year, ” which
was due on September 17, 2010, but he failed to complete the
assignment by the deadline. Id. Additionally, Zombro
wrote that, “without authorization from Linda Bartnyska
or Ben Steffen, ” plaintiff “tried to convince
Norm Ringel to create” the assignment, offering Ringel
“comp-time” and the possibility of
“part-time work . . . when he retires, neither of which
are things [Chen is] in a position to offer.”
Id. Further, Zombro stated that, when Bartnyska told
plaintiff that the assignment was due, plaintiff said
“then [Bartnyska] should do it” herself.
emails were attached to the Memorandum of Verbal Counseling.
See ECF 48-19 at 1-3. In an email from LaBrecque to
Steffen, Bartnyska, Ringel, and Zombro, dated September 17,
2010 (ECF 48-19 at 2), LaBrecque reported that Chen had
placed MHCC data on a USB drive,  in violation of MHCC data
policy. Id. According to LaBrecque, Chen also
inserted the USB drive into LaBrecque's computer, causing
the computer to crash. Id. In an email of that same
date from Ringel to Zombro and Steffen (ECF 48-19 at 3),
Ringel reported that Chen “impulsively” connected
a USB drive to Ringel's computer. According to Ringel,
Chen said that “he has numerous [USB] drives on which
to back up his files.”
December 2, 2010, Chen and Bartnyska had a verbal altercation
that resulted in a five-day suspension of Chen, from December
8, 2010, through December 15, 2010. See ECF 52-2 at
3. According to a memorandum from Bartnyska to Zombro, dated
December 2, 2010 (ECF 52-2 at 4-5), when Bartnyska assigned
Chen a project on that same date, Chen raised his voice,
leaned across the table towards Bartnyska, and put his face
close to hers. ECF 52-2 at 4. Defendants have submitted
statements of several MHCC employees who claim to have
witnessed the incident and who corroborate Bartnyska's
account. See ECF 52-2 at 6-9.
appealed the suspension to Rex Cowdry, then the Executive
Director of MHCC. See ECF 50-4 at 3-4 (appeal). Chen
claimed that he “remained silent when [Bartnyska]
started yelling at” him. Id. at 3. Moreover,
Chen insisted that he “did not yell” at
Bartnyska. Id. And, in response to Bartnyska's
assertion that Chen had leaned across a table towards her,
Chen explained that he “bowed down” to her.
Id. Further, Chen stated that he
“had endured [Bartnyska] yelling at least three (3)
times.” Id. And, he asserted that he and
Zombro had discussed improving his “2-way
communications on future work assignments” to
“avoid misunderstandings” with Bartnyska.
denied the appeal. ECF 50-4 at 2. He concluded that plaintiff
failed to present evidence of mitigating circumstances
regarding the verbal altercation of December 2, 2010.
MHCC evaluates its employees using the Maryland Performance
Planning and Evaluation Program (“PEP”).
See ECF 48-1 at 4; see also 48-6 (revised
PEP Guidelines and Instructions, dated October 14, 2010).
“The PEP is intended to facilitate communication
between employees and supervisors regarding expectations and
performance.” ECF 48-6 at 1. It “offers employees
and supervisors an opportunity to . . . openly discuss areas
for [the employee's] enhancement and improvement. In
cases of poor performance it is meant to compliment the
disciplinary process by providing a means to assist employees
to improve.” Id.
process requires an employee to be evaluated by a supervisor
at least twice each year, typically in June and December.
See ECF 48-6 at 1; see also ECF 48-1 at 4.
PEP evaluations fall into three categories. A
“beginning-of-cycle” PEP evaluation, which occurs
soon after an employee is hired, requires, inter
alia, a discussion about “performance expectations
for the coming year.” Id. A
“mid-cycle” PEP pertains to “the
employee's performance during the first months of the PEP
Cycle, ” and typically occurs in December. Id.
An “end-of-cycle” evaluation entails a review of
“the employee's performance for the entire rating
year, ” and generally occurs in June. Id.
the PEP framework, an employee is evaluated based on job
requirements termed “position-specific performance
standards” and “behavioral elements.” ECF
48-6 at 2. An employee's supervisor rates the employee on
a scale of 1 to 3 for each position-specific performance
standard and behavioral element, with 3 being the best.
See, e.g., ECF 48-9 (Chen's Decembers 2011 PEP);
see also ECF 48-6 at 2. The ratings on each
“standard” and “element” are then
averaged. The average score determines whether the employee
receives an overall evaluation of “Outstanding, ”
“Satisfactory, ” or “Unsatisfactory.”
ECF 48-6 at 2 (capitals in original); see also ECF
48-9. To obtain an overall rating of “Outstanding,
” the employee must receive an average score within the
range of 2.75 to 3.00. See, e.g., ECF 48-9. An
overall rating of “Satisfactory” requires an
average score within the range of 1.75 to 2.74. Id.
And, a rating of “Unsatisfactory” falls within
the range of 1.00 to 1.74. Id.
if an employee receives an overall rating of
“Unsatisfactory” on an end-of-cycle PEP
evaluation, “the employee's supervisor shall inform
the employee that the employee has 180 days to improve to
the level of ‘Satisfactory.'” ECF 48-6
at 7 (emphasis in original). Moreover, the supervisor and
employee must complete a “Performance Improvement
Plan” (“PIP”) to facilitate the
employee's improvement during the “180-day
improvement period.” Id. at 7-8. If the
employee fails to earn a “Satisfactory” rating
within the 180-day improvement period, the MHCC is required
to terminate the employee. Id. at 8; see
also ECF 52-1.
Eleven of the State Personnel and Pensions
(“S.P.P.”) Article of the Maryland Code (2015
Repl. Vol., 2017 Supp.) governs disciplinary actions and
termination of employees in the State Personnel Management
System, within the Executive Branch of the State government.
See S.P.P. § 11-102. The Code of Maryland
Regulations (“COMAR”) provides, in relevant part,
17.04.05.03(G)(1) (emphasis added):
When an employee has been given an overall rating of
“unsatisfactory” on an annual performance
appraisal, the employee's supervisor shall inform the
employee that the employee has 180 days from issuance of the
rating to improve to the level of “satisfactory”.
. . . Failure to meet standards at the end of the 180-day
period shall result in the employee's termination.
Mid-Cycle PEP Evaluation, dated December 21, 2010 (ECF 48-7,
“December 2010 PEP”), plaintiff received an
overall rating of “Satisfactory, ” indicating
that he had “[m]et the required and expected results
for the job.” Id. at 1. It was signed by Chen,
Zombro, and Bartnyska. Id.
avers in her Affidavit: “The Department of Budget and
Management implemented a new performance evaluation system
during the December 2010 PEP ratings period. MHCC was
instructed to rate all employees satisfactory. Mr. Chen would
have received an unsatisfactory rating but for the Department
of Budget and Management's policy mandating that he be
given a satisfactory rating.” ECF 48-4, ¶ 3;
see ECF 48-8 at 5 (unsigned and undated document
attached to Chen's July 2011 PEP, stating that the
Maryland Department of Budget and Management
(“DBM”) mandated that “all employees were
to be rated Satisfactory” on the December 2010 PEP).
No. such notation is made on the December 2010 PEP itself.
And, defendants provide no documents from the DBM as to the
Affidavit, Zombro asserts that Chen's “deficiencies
and poor work performance” in 2010 “related to
his failure to check his results before turning in a project,
his refusal to follow directions, and his inability to
understand and use statistical formulas.” ECF 48-4,
¶ 4. Indeed, despite the satisfactory rating, Chen's
December 2010 PEP described several “Behavioral/Skill
Areas” in which he required improvement, including, ECF
48-7 at 2 (emphasis in original):
1. Working independently-requires/expects
unreasonable amount of supervisory attention during
implementation of projects.
2. Self checking [sic] results-failure to self-check
work adequately before giving to supervisor.
3. Unwillingness to accept Supervisor's
decisions-refusals to perform assigned tasks on several
occasions; repeatedly questions supervisor's descriptions
of assigned tasks; repeatedly questions supervisor's
decisions about what is to be included in documents; and
repeatedly questions supervisor's decisions regarding
editing of text.
4. Ability to understand and use statistical
formulas-unable to identify correct standard error
formulas from a short chapter describing the formulas and
when to use them; uses incorrect formula even when told the
correct formula to use.
5. Ability to accurate/clearly [sic] explain analytical
results in written text- inaccurate descriptions of
analytical results in text for insurance coverage report.
has submitted a document titled “Health Insurance
Coverage in Maryland Through 2009.” See ECF
50-3. Presumably, this is the “insurance coverage
report” referenced in the December 2010 PEP.
See ECF 48-7 at 2, ¶ 5. In his Opposition, Chen
points to the insurance coverage report (ECF 48-7) for the
proposition that he “had no problem . . . performing
relevant job duties.” ECF 50 at 6, ¶ 3. The report
bears Bartnyska's name. ECF 48-7 at 1. And, it recognizes
Chen and Larry Monroe for their contributions to the report.
Id.; see also ECF 50 at 6, ¶ 3.
avers that in April 2011 Chen was transferred “to a
position with a new supervisor” in order to improve his
work performance. ECF 48-4, ¶ 5. Zombro stated that
Chen's new position required him “to do
programming.” Id. Zombro does not specify the
scope of plaintiff's new responsibilities or identify his
supervisor. It appears that plaintiff's new position was
that of “Data Processing Programmer, ” and Ringel
was his supervisor. See ECF 48-8 at 5. However,
plaintiff's job title remained unchanged. See
ECF 52-1 at 2.
23, 2011, the MHCC created a PIP for Chen. See ECF
48-13 (“June 2011 PIP”). According to
plaintiff's Notice of Termination, Zombro and Ringel
issued the June 2011 PIP to plaintiff during a meeting on
June 30, 2011. ECF 52-1 at 3. Defendants assert that the June
2011 PIP was “implemented with management to improve
upon Chen's ‘Unsatisfactory' June 2011
PEP[.]” ECF 48-1 at 9. The June 2011 PIP stated, ECF
48-13 at 2:
This plan will be reviewed monthly, as necessary, to work
with Linda/Leslie on areas of difficulty and to note areas of
strength. This plan, and any amendments, will be considered
for the mid-cycle PEP, to take place on or before December
31st 2011. The performance under the plan will be
reevaluated in 180 days starting July 1, 2011.
June 2011 PIP identified plaintiff's performance in the
following areas as “Needs Work (Unsatisfactory)”:
“Working independently”; “Self checking
results”; “Ability to understand and use
statistical formulas”; “Ability to
accurately/clearly explain analytical results in written
text”; “Demonstrates an increasing knowledge of
the MCDB, expertise in its use”;
“Prepares at least one technical analysis using the
MCDB”; “Reports progress, resolves questions
needing decision with supervisor”; “Provides data
analysis, text development, and document reviews for the
health insurance coverage report”; “Prepares at
least one technical analysis using the MCDB or other data in
accordance with the approved study and design and
timeline.” ECF 48-13 at 1.
“Special Note” at the end of the PIP stated, in
relevant part, id. at 2: “Mr. Chen was rated
as satisfactory during his mid-term evaluation; it was due to
the implement [sic] of a new performance evaluation system.
Instruction from DBM were that all employees were to be rated
Satisfactory.” In Chen's subsequent PEP Evaluation
(ECF 48-8, “June 2011 PEP”), he received an
overall evaluation of “Unsatisfactory, ” based on
an assessment of eleven “position-specific performance
elements” and nineteen “behavioral
elements.” See Id. at 1-3; see also
ECF 48-4, ¶ 6. Chen and Bartnyska signed that PEP
on July 6, 2011. ECF 48-8 at 4. Zombro and Ringel signed it
on July 11, 2011. Id.
June 2011 PEP, Bartnyska and Ringel informed plaintiff of
several “Tasks to be Achieved Before the Next Mid-Cycle
Rating, ” including “1. Upgrade communication
skills; 2. Become proficient in task assignments . . . 3.
Cease printing inappropriate documents; 4. Focus on users
specific requests/requirements instead of formulating
assumptions about tasks; 5. See mid-year [December 2010 PEP]
evaluation areas needing improvement.” ECF 48-8 at 4.
Additionally, Bartnyska and Ringel suggested that
“[c]ourses in communication (written and verbal) may be
helpful” to improve Chen's work performance.
documents are attached to the June 2011 PEP. See ECF
48-8 at 5-64. They appear to have been collected and/or
created by Ringel. See id. In a document dated June
13, 2011, titled “Supervisor Comments, ” Ringel
noted that Chen “is prone to go off in his own
direction”; “needs improvement in his
communication skills”; and struggles to follow
directions, take initiative in his work, and is uncooperative
with his colleagues. ECF 48-8 at 6-7; see also ECF
50-5 at 3-4. However, Ringel also stated that “Chen is
an adequate SAS programmer.” ECF 48-8 at 6;
see ECF 50-5 at 3. And, he said that “a review
of Chen's assignment sheets shows that SA programs are
mostly completed on time. Some projects are completed with
minimal supervision and some with closer supervision.”
ECF 48-8 at 7; see ECF 50-5 at 4.
documents attached to the June 2011 PEP include records of
email correspondence indicating that Chen failed to follow
Ringel's instructions on two occasions (ECF 48-8 at
10-15), that Chen had a confrontation with a colleague
stemming from one of Chen's assignments (id. at
17-18), and Chen failed to follow directions from Bartnyska
pertaining to the use of certain datasets. See Id.
30, 2011, Zombro wrote and delivered a memorandum to Chen.
See ECF 48-12.
stated, in part, id.:
On June 30, 2011 we met to discuss your FY2011 end-of-cycle
PEP evaluation [June 2011 PEP]. The end-of-cycle rating is
1.27, Unsatisfactory and you will have 180 days from the
issuance of this letter to improve to the level of
“Satisfactory.” It is important to note that
COMAR 17.04.05.03G(1) states: “Failure to meet
standards at the end of the 180 day period shall result in
the employee's termination[”]. . . .
the memorandum states that it was delivered to Chen on June
30, 2011, Chen appears to have refused to sign it.
See ECF 48-12. The portion of the memorandum
reserved for Chen's signature contains the words:
“Refused to sign as he disagrees with ratings.”
Id. Those words were initialed by “BZ”
(id.), which presumably refers to Bridget
assert, without pointing to any evidence, that, as a result
of plaintiff's June 2011 PEP, the MHCC revoked
plaintiff's access to the internet “in order to
keep Chen focused on his work.” See ECF 48-1
at 7. It appears that Zombro met with plaintiff on June 23,
2011, to discuss, inter alia, how plaintiff's
internet access would be blocked until his PEP performance
improved to the level of “Satisfactory.”
See ECF 52-3 at 9 (memorandum from Zombro to Chen,
dated November 3, 2011), ¶ 1; see also ECF 52-3
at 6 (email from Zombro to Steffen, dated November 3, 2011);
ECF 52-3 at 7 (email from LaBrecque to Steffen, dated
November 3, 2011).
emails dated July 21, 2011, between, inter alia,
LaBrecque and Zombro (ECF 50-7 at 2), LaBrecque suggested
that Chen was using a “stand-alone” printer with
access to the internet to print “non-work related
matter” from the internet. Id. LaBrecque
stated that Chen's purported actions “ought to be a
fire-able-offense since he was instructed verbatim not to
print any non-work related internet documents.”
Id. Zombro responded, “In. Subordination [sic]
I will deal with it . . . .” Id.; see also
Id. at 4 (email from LaBrecque to Zombro and Bartnyska,
dated July 29, 2011).
memorandum from Zombro to Chen dated November 3, 2011, Zombro
stated that on October 28, 2011, plaintiff left the MHCC
building for three hours, without permission. See
ECF 52-3 at 11, ¶ 5. Zombro characterized this as
“Unauthorized Leave” and stated that plaintiff
had been “AWOL” for three hours. Id.
Zombro changed plaintiff's timesheet to reflect the
unauthorized leave, and informed plaintiff that he would not
be paid for that time. ECF 50-10 at 3. In an email to
Steffen, Chen referred to the three hour absence as an
“extended lunch break.” ECF 52-3 at 13.
email from LaBrecque to Steffen, dated November 3, 2011,
LaBrecque stated that she observed plaintiff using the
internet on October 26, 2011. See ECF 52-3 at 7;
see also ECF 52-3 at 10, ¶ 1. As noted, Zombro
had removed plaintiff's access to the internet on June
23, 2011. See id.; see also ECF 52-3 at 9.
LaBrecque discovered that plaintiff's internet access had
been automatically restored as a result of a power outage in
the MHCC building. ECF 52-3 at 7; see also ECF 52-3
to an email from Zombro to Steffen dated November 3, 2011
(ECF 52-3 at 6), Zombro and LaBrecque met with plaintiff on
November 2, 2011, to discuss his unauthorized use of the
internet, his June 2011 PIP, and his “work
attitude.” Id. Zombro recounted that, during
the meeting, plaintiff repeatedly raised his voice, rolled
his eyes, laughed inappropriately, and interrupted Zombro.
Id. Zombro also averred that Chen threatened to
“go to the Secretary” if MHCC did not restore his
internet access. Id. Chen acknowledged only that he
was “very upset” during the meeting. See
ECF 50 at 9, ¶ 12. In an unsigned memorandum from Zombro
to Chen dated November 3, 2011 (ECF 52-3 at 9-11), Zombro
noted that Chen's access to the internet had again been
rescinded. Id. at 9.
emailed Chen on November 4, 2011 (ECF 50-10 at 2), asking
Chen to “provide a written description” of the
meeting with Zombro and LaBrecque on December 2, 2011. Chen
responded on that same date, stating, id.:
1. I would like to apologize for being emotional in
conversation with Bridget [Zombro] (I still think that
they've been coming too hard on me, unbearable at times);
2. I have abided, and will continue to abide, all the
provisions of the MHCC's Telecommunication Usage
3. I did not “mock” anybody, nor
4. I have been using the internet uninterrupted to complete
my assignments, including the recent download and processing
of CPS/ASEC survey data and updates;
5. I have completed all my assignments on time with prudence,
efficiency, and professionalism; And [sic]
6. I shall continue working hard on improving my
communication skills; . . . .
memorandum dated November 8, 2011, from Steffen to Janet
Nugent, Director of Personnel for the DHMH (ECF 52-3 at 3),
Steffen stated that on November 7, 2011, he “held a
mitigating circumstances meeting” with Chen, in which
Steffen reviewed plaintiff's version of facts regarding
the meeting between Chen, Zombro, and LaBrecque on December
2, 2011.According to Steffen, plaintiff
expressed contrition during the “mitigating
circumstances meeting” of November 7, 2011. ECF 52-3 at
3. Nonetheless, by memorandum dated November 8, 2011 (ECF
52-3 at 12), Steffen informed Chen that, as punishment for
Chen's behavior during the meeting of November 2, 2011,
Chen would receive a ten-day suspension, without pay, from
November 9, 2011, through November 22, 2011. Id.;
see also Id. at 2, 12. Steffen instructed plaintiff
to return to work on Monday, November 28, 2011.
Id. According to Bartnyska, Chen was
escorted from the MHCC building on the morning of November 9,
2011. See ECF 52-4 at 4-5 (memorandum from Bartnyska
to Steffen, dated November 10, 2011); see also ECF
50-11 at 2-3 (same).
state that plaintiff did not file a grievance challenging the
ten-day suspension. See ECF 48-1 at 8. However,
plaintiff emailed Steffen on November 14, 2011, asking for
Steffen to reconsider the suspension. See ECF 52-3
at 13-14; ECF 50-12 at 10-11. And, by letter of December 12,
2011 (ECF 50-12 at 2-7), an attorney for plaintiff wrote to
Joshua Sharfstein, M.D., then the Secretary of MDHMH, arguing
that the duration of the suspension violated the DHMH