United States District Court, D. Maryland
XINIS, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
before the Court in this employment discrimination action is
the Motion for Summary Judgment filed by Defendant Kaiser
Foundation Health Plan of the Mid-Atlantic States, Inc.
(“Kaiser”). (ECF No. 42.) The matter has been
fully briefed and no hearing is necessary. See D.
Md. Loc. R. 105.6. Upon consideration of the parties'
arguments and the evidence in the record, the Court GRANTS
following facts are taken from the record and construed in
the light most favorable to Plaintiff Holly Chughtai.
Chughtai was first hired as a nurse by Kaiser in 2008. ECF
No. 42-14 at 3 (Chughtai Dep. 24:15-17). In 2009, Chughtai
applied and was selected for a position as a radiology nurse
in Kaiser's Shady Grove Medical Center. ECF No. 42-14 at
7-8 (Chughtai Dep. 34:4-12; 37:16-18). In 2011, Kaiser
informed Chughtai that she was being transferred to
Kasier's Largo Medical Center (“Largo”).
See ECF No. 42-14 at 10 (Chughtai Dep. 39:1-3).
Chughtai, who suffers from thrombophilia, a blood-clotting
disorder, opposed the transfer because the long commute would
put her at risk for blood clots. See ECF No. 42-14
at 11, 13-14 (Chughtai Dep. 40:5-7, 45:14-16, 46:3-12).
Chughtai spoke with Artine Hollis, her would-be supervisor at
the Largo Center, as well as Derek Perkins, Hollis'
supervisor at the time, and was informed that they would not
be able to prevent her transfer. See ECF No. 42-14
at 11-12, 20 (Chughtai Dep. 40:5-41:6, 60:13-21). Chughtai
then requested an accommodation through Kaiser's
Integrated Disability Management program (“IDM”)
in Kaiser's Human Resources department
(“HR”). See ECF No. 42-14 at 12
(Chughtai Dep. 41:9-22); ECF No. 42-4 at 3-4.
Chughtai's physician recommended that she not have any
“prolonged periods of immobility including
transcontinental airline travel or prolonged automobile
commutes, ” ECF No. 42-4 at 53, Chughtai's
physician never explained what constituted a
“prolonged” period. Accordingly, Kaiser was
unable to grant her an accommodation. ECF No. 42-4 at 4-6.
Chughtai's physician noted that her only work limitation
was “prolonged immobility” or “prolonged
sitting, ” and that her normal work responsibilities
were not affected by her thrombophilia. ECF No. 42-4 at 53,
59-60; see ECF No. 42-14 at 20 (Chughtai Dep.
60:1-5). So long as Chughtai was able to stand and walk once
every hour, her condition would be adequately addressed. ECF
No. 42-14 at 13-14, 20 (Chughtai Dep. 45:18-46:2, 60:1-5).
after Chughtai's request not to be transferred was
denied, Chughtai took FMLA leave. Prior to returning from
leave, Chugtai again was transferred, this time to
Kaiser's Gaithersburg Center
(“Gaithersburg”). Chughtai never worked or set
foot in Largo. ECF No. 42-14 at 10-11, 15 (Chughtai Dep.
was the only radiology nurse in Kaiser's Gaithersburg
location. When Chughtai began working at Gaithersburg, her
supervisor was Tyrone Hughley, who reported to Perkins. ECF
No. 42-14 at 21 (Chughtai Dep. 65:11-17). Hughley and Perkins
were subsequently terminated. From the record, it appears
that their firing was precipitated in part by complaints that
Chuhgtai had lodged against them. See, e.g., ECF No.
46-1 at 72 (Chughtai Dep. 273:10-14). In May 2013, Hollis and
Angie Edwards replaced Hughley and Perkins as Chughtai's
co-supervisors. ECF No. 42-6 at 2; ECF No. 42-8 at 13.
Mohammad Malik, Regional Director of Imaging Services, also
was a senior member of Chughtai's chain of command.
See ECF No. 44-42 at 13 (Malik Dep. 12:7-16).
Chughtai began working in Gaithersburg, she complained to her
supervisors that her workstation was not ergonomically
designed. ECF No. 42-14 at 22-24 (Chughtai Dep. 72:1- 74:22);
ECF No. 42-14 at 73-74; ECF No. 44-42 at 24 (Malik Dep.
24:9-17). Chughtai was directed to fill out Kaiser's
ergonomic assessment form and to discuss her needs with the
Employee Health Nurse. Chughtai requested a new chair and a
full-sized writing surface. ECF No. 42-14 at 25-27 (Chughtai
Dep. 77:16-79:17); see ECF No. 42-14 at 73-74. Due
to the size of her work station, Kaiser was unable to provide
Chughtai with a full-sized table, but Kaiser did provide
Chughtai with an adjustable work surface and an ergonomic
chair used throughout Kaiser's facilities. ECF No. 42-11
after Chughtai began working at the Gaithersburg Center,
concerns began to surface about her workflow, including the
scope of her responsibilities and the circumstances under
which she was expected to assist radiology technologists
(“radiology techs”) with preparing patients for
procedures and starting IVs. See ECF No. 42-14 at
29-30, 31-32, 35, 36, 37 (Chughtai Dep. 92:9-93:13;
96:3-97:20; 102:7-11; 106:4-19; 109:1-19); see also
ECF No. 42-14 at 75; ECF No. 44-42 at 18 (Malik Dep.
17:4-13). Conflicts surrounding Chughtai's work continued
through her time at Gaithersburg. Radiology techs complained
about Chughtai's performance; Chughtai disagreed,
contending that her job duties were narrow, and did not
involve screening patients and starting IVs. See,
e.g., ECF No. 42-14 at 36 (Chughtai Dep. 106:8-12); ECF
No. 42-14 at 84-85. Chughtai's narrow interpretation of
her job was not shared by her coworkers or
supervisors. See, e.g., ECF No. 42-8 at 2-5,
8, 10; ECF No. 42-14 at 77.
result, Chughtai's supervisors, Hollis, Edwards, and
Alicia McCullough (a regional manager with oversight over
Chughtai's department), discussed with Chughtai her
duties and their expectations within the radiology
department. See ECF No. 42-8 at 3; ECF No. 42-14 at
38-39 (Chughtai Dep. 261:4-262:21); ECF No. 42-10 at 1; No.
44-41 at 22-28, 33-34 (Hollis Dep. 21:2-27:14, 32:12-33:1).
Chughtai complained to Malik and to Kaiser's Chief
Operating Officer, Linda Collins, that these conversations
were harassing and retaliatory. See, e.g., ECF No.
42-14 at 40-41, 50-51, 81, 82 (Chughtai Dep. 268:18-269:10;
309:19-310:20). Chughtai also reported to Malik that Edwards,
Hollis, and McCullough harassed her by assigning her duties
not in her job description. ECF No. 42-14 at 40-41 (Chughtai
Dep. 268:11-269:20); ECF No. 42-9 at 2-3; see also
ECF No. 46-1 at 38-40 (Chughtai Dep. 239:2-241:8). Chughtai
reported that she believed these actions were leveled against
her because she had complained about Perkins. See
ECF No. 42-14 at 81; see also ECF No. 46-1 at 71-72
(Chughtai Dep. 272:21-273:9). Chughtai further viewed her
Largo transfer as “harassment.” ECF No. 42-14 at
41, 52 (Chughtai Dep. 269:12-22; 311:3-6).
asked Malik to investigate Chughtai's allegations. Malik
engaged Jamie Green, a regional nurse, to audit the scope of
Chughtai's role to determine whether her assignments were
appropriate for a radiology nurse. Green confirmed they were.
ECF No. 44-42 at 26 (Malik Dep. 25:5-18); ECF No. 42-9 at 3;
ECF No. 42-7 at 2, 3-4. Additionally, Green observed that
Chughtai failed to follow proper protocol in transferring a
patient from the radiology department to Kaiser's
Clinical Decision Unit, the equivalent of an emergency room.
This incident functionally left the patient unattended, which
Green viewed as a lapse in Chughtai's clinical judgment.
ECF No. 42-7 at 2-3; see also ECF No. 44-43 at
41-42, 69 (Edwards Dep. 40:12- 41:18, 68:4-8).
23, 2013, Hollis and Edwards met again with Chughtai to
discuss concerns about her work. At the meeting, Hollis and
Edwards informed Chughtai that she could be subjected to a
corrective action. See ECF No. 42-8 at 5, 13. This
meeting culminated in a confrontation, the exact details of
which are contested. For the purposes of this motion, the
Court assumes, as Chugtai describes, that the conversation
took on an aggressive tone. Chughtai attempted to disengage
from the meeting and left the room. Hollis and Edwards
followed Chughtai back to her work station and confronted her
in a physically aggressive manner, repeatedly telling her to
leave the building. See ECF No. 42-14 at 42, 43-48
(Chughtai Dep. 286:3-21, 288:2-293:22).
this altercation, Chughtai began experiencing anxiety and
other health-related complications. Chughtai requested FMLA
leave, which was denied because she had not worked the
requisite number of hours in the previous year to be eligible
for such leave. ECF No. 42-14 at 87-89. Chughtai nevertheless
was approved for six months of leave in accordance with her
collective bargaining agreement. See ECF No. 42-14
at 94. During Chughtai's leave, Timothy Cradduck became
her supervisor. ECF No. 42-5 at 2. When Chughtai's leave
expired, Cradduck informed her in writing of her expected
return date. ECF No. 42-5 at 3, 11. Chughtai was unable to
return to work because she was suffering from migraine
headaches, anxiety, and depression, and was continuing to
undergo medical evaluations. ECF No. 42-14 at 62-64, 66-67
(Chughtai Dep. 351:10-353:2; 358:13-359:12). Chughtai
requested an extension of her leave from an unidentified
Kaiser staff member. ECF No. 42-14 at 60-61 (Chughtai Dep.
348:16- 349:22); see ECF No. 42-14 at 97-98; ECF No.
42-4 at 6. No. additional leave was granted, and when
Chughtai did not report back to work, her employment was
terminated. See ECF No. 42-14 at 99.
March 24, 2014, Chughtai filed a complaint with the
Montgomery County Office of Human Rights. ECF No. 42-14 at
100-01. Thereafter, Chughtai filed suit in this Court,
alleging race discrimination in violation of Title VII and
Montgomery County Human Rights Law (Counts I & II),
disability discrimination in violation of the ADA and
Montgomery County Human Rights Law (Counts III & IV), and
associated race and disability retaliation claims (Counts
V-VIII). See ECF No. 16 (Amended Complaint). Kaiser
moves for summary judgment in its favor on all counts.