United States District Court, D. Maryland
DEBORAH K. CHASANOW UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
pending and ready for resolution in this employment case are
the motion for partial summary judgment filed by Plaintiff
Pervez Rashid (“Plaintiff”) (ECF No. 13) and the
cross-motion for summary judgment filed by Defendant
Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority
(“Defendant”) (ECF No. 15). The issues have been
briefed, and the court now rules, no hearing being deemed
necessary. Local Rule 105.6. For the following reasons, the
motion for summary judgment filed by Plaintiff will be
denied, and the cross-motion for summary judgment filed by
Defendant will be granted in part and denied in part.
is a Muslim of Pakistani descent. (ECF No. 4 ¶ 1).
Defendant hired Plaintiff in September 2011 as a Manager,
Inventory Planning for Bus Maintenance. (ECF Nos. 14-5;
14-19). Vyron Johnson initially supervised Plaintiff's
work. Plaintiff's initial performance review covered the
time period from September 19, 2011 until December 31,
2012. Mr. Johnson evaluated Plaintiff's
ability to meet a variety of “job standards/performance
goals” on a five level scale - “Outstanding,
” “Exceeds Expectations, ”
“Competent, ” “Needs Improvement, ”
and “Unacceptable.” Mr. Johnson rated Plaintiff
“competent” in four aspects of his job,
“needs improvement” in one, and “exceeds
expectations” in one. (ECF No. 14-7, at 3-4). Of eight
“Performance Factors, ” Mr. Johnson rated
Plaintiff “competent” in seven and “needs
improvement” in one. (Id. at 5-6). Mr. Johnson
gave Plaintiff an overall score of “competent.”
(Id. at 9).
appears that the style of performance review changed in 2013.
At the beginning of 2013, Mr. Johnson identified six
objectives for Plaintiff to meet, and Mr. Johnson performed a
midyear review where he determined whether Plaintiff was on
pace to meet all six objectives. (ECF No. 14-9, at 3-6). In
the 2013 year-end review, Mr. Johnson evaluated whether
Plaintiff: “met objective;” “did not meet
objective;” or “exceeded objective.” Mr.
Johnson gave Plaintiff a “met objective” on each
of the six objectives. (Id. at 8). Mr. Johnson also
rated Plaintiff's behaviors in eight different areas from
zero to two - two being the highest - and gave Plaintiff a
“1” on each behavior for an overall score of
“solid performer, ” the middle of three
categories. (Id. at 11).
Johnson retired in June 2014, and Tara Wasiak replaced him.
(ECF No. 4 ¶¶ 40-42). At some point in either 2013
or 2014, Defendant changed Plaintiff's job title and
duties. Plaintiff alleges this occurred in 2014 under Ms.
Wasiak's supervision and points to Mr. Johnson's
affidavit for support. (Id. ¶ 49; 14-6).
According to Defendant, Plaintiff's responsibilities had
been divided by Mr. Johnson because Plaintiff had been unable
to perform all the duties assigned. (ECF No. 14-19).
2014, Plaintiff was given seven objectives to
meet. Ms. Wasiak performed the year-end review.
It initially showed that Plaintiff met four objectives and
did not meet three objectives. His overall objectives rating
was “less than half of objectives met/exceeded, ”
the lowest score. His overall performance based on the eight
different behaviors was deemed “improvement
required.” (ECF No. 14-15, at 7-12). Because
Defendant's human resources department did not believe
Ms. Wasiak had supervised Plaintiff “long enough to
justify the rating” (ECF No. 15, at 5; see ECF
No. 17, at 6), the evaluation was revised to show that
Plaintiff had met five objectives and did not meet two
objectives. He received an overall objectives rating of
“half or more of objectives met” and an overall
performance rating of “solid performer.” (ECF No.
had to implement changes in 2015. Prior to 2015, Defendant
did not have a mechanism in place to ensure quality control
for material going into its buses, and the Federal Transit
Administration (“FTA”) standards mandated this
mechanism. (ECF No. 14-17, at 3). Defendant wanted to install
the quality control system in 2015. (ECF No. 15-15, at 6).
This task gained added urgency after the FTA conducted an
audit in March and April 2015 and published a report on June
17, 2015, stating that Defendant's “bus maintenance
materials procurement process [was] not being executed in
accordance with FTA standards[.]” (ECF No. 14-17, at
new program fell under Plaintiff's purview. Before the
beginning of 2015, Ms. Wasiak provided Plaintiff with a
series of objectives designed, at least in part, to measure
the progress toward this new quality control system. As best
can be gleaned from the record, to establish the program,
Plaintiff had to create a system to manage data about the
incoming products, hire new inspectors, provide them with
necessary materials to perform inspections, determine a
standard operating procedure for what to inspect and how to
inspect it, and manage data relating to the quality of newly
procured material in a way that helped the business run
efficiently. (ECF No. 14-18, at 3-8).
2015 mid-year review, Plaintiff was warned that he was not on
target to meet seven of nine objectives. (ECF No. 14-18, at
7). In his 2015 year-end review, Plaintiff was deemed not to
have met eight out of the nine objectives. He received an
overall performance rating of “improvement
required.” (ECF No. 14-18, at 10-18). Plaintiff
challenged his performance review (ECF No. 14-25), but his
challenge was denied (ECF No. 14-26).
wrote to Defendant's Director of the Office of Equal
Employment Opportunity, James Wynne, on December 20, 2015.
His email did not mention or identify any discrimination and
simply stated that he “had open and outstanding
grievances which need review and resolution.” (ECF No.
14-21). Mr. Wynne wrote back explaining that the grievance
was not within the scope of his office. (ECF No. 14-22).
December 30, 2015, Plaintiff sent Ms. Wasiak a request for an
alternative schedule to allow him to leave early on Friday.
(ECF No. 14-12, at 4). In his response brief, Plaintiff
explains that he made this request to attend Muslim Friday
prayers. (ECF No. 17, at 5).
his 2015 evaluation, Plaintiff was not given a performance
improvement plan (“PIP”). (ECF No. 15-15, at 10).
Defendant terminated Plaintiff's employment on April 12,
2016. The parties dispute whether a PIP is a pre-termination
requirement. (Compare ECF No. 17, at 10
with ECF No. 20, at 2).
April 18, 2016, Plaintiff filed a charge with the Equal
Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”)
alleging age, religion, and national origin discrimination.
(ECF No. 14-28).
EEOC issued Plaintiff a right to sue letter on December 20,
2016. (ECF No. 14-30).
filed suit on March 16, 2017, and filed an amended complaint
on April 6. Plaintiff asserts claims for discrimination in
violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42
U.S.C. § 2000e et seq., on the basis of
national origin, race, and religion. Plaintiff also asserts a
claim of retaliation for reporting discrimination. (ECF No.
4-1). Defendant answered and raised a number of affirmative
defenses. (ECF No. 5).
October 25, 2017, Plaintiff moved for partial summary
judgment on Defendant's “third, fourth, and fifth
affirmative defenses” which assert a failure to exhaust
administrative remedies generally, a failure to exhaust
administrative remedies as it related to the claims of racial
discrimination and retaliation specifically, and that the
suit is barred by the statute of limitations. (ECF No. 14, at
5). Defendant responded and filed a cross-motion for summary
judgment arguing: Plaintiff failed to exhaust his
administrative remedies for his claims of racial
discrimination and retaliation; Plaintiff failed to establish
his prima facie case because he was terminated for
not meeting Defendant's legitimate expectations; and
Plaintiff had failed to establish a religious accommodation
claim because Plaintiff did not notify Defendant about the
need for a religious accommodation. (ECF No. 15).
Standard of Review
motion for summary judgment will be granted only if there
exists no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the
moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.
See Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a); Anderson v. Liberty
Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 250 (1986); Celotex Corp.
v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986); Emmett v.
Johnson, 532 F.3d 291, 297 (4th Cir. 2008).
To prevail on a motion for summary judgment, the moving party
generally bears the burden of showing that there is no
genuine dispute as to any material fact. Liberty
Lobby, 477 U.S. at 248-50. A dispute about a material
fact is genuine “if the evidence is such that a
reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving
party.” Id. at 248. In undertaking this
inquiry, a court must view the facts and the reasonable
inferences drawn therefrom “in the light most favorable
to the party opposing the motion, ” Matsushita
Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574,
587 (1986) (quoting United States v. Diebold, Inc.,
369 U.S. 654, 655 (1962)); see ...