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Montgomery v. Medstar Montgomery Medical Center

United States District Court, D. Maryland

July 12, 2018

TYANNA MONTGOMERY, Plaintiff,
v.
MEDSTAR MONTGOMERY MEDICAL CENTER, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          Paula Xinis United States District Judge.

         Pending in this employment discrimination case is Defendant Medstar Montgomery Medical Center's motion for summary judgment. ECF No. 29. Plaintiff Tyanna Montgomery has opposed the motion, and the matter is now ripe for decision. See D. Md. Loc. R. 105.2. The Court now rules because no hearing is necessary. See D. Md. Loc. R. 105.6. Upon consideration of the parties' briefing and the evidence in the record, the Court GRANTS Medstar's motion.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Tyanna Montgomery (“Montgomery”), an African-American woman, worked at Medstar Montgomery Medical Center (“Medstar”) as a Security Officer from August 2010 until her termination on April 17, 2017. ECF No. 29-2, Dep. Ex. 2; Montgomery Dep. 13:2-7 ECF No. 29-2. Security Officers at Medstar were expected to “effectively resolve confrontation situations, ” maintain order on the Medstar premises, and assist Medstar visitors and patients. See ECF No. 29-2 (Montgomery Dep. 16:14-23); ECF No. 29-2, Dep. Ex. 2.

         From 2013 through her termination, Montgomery was supervised by Salvatore Michael Mancuso, a Caucasian male. ECF Nos. 22 at ¶ 40 & 35-1 at ¶ 3. Medstar asserts that Montgomery was terminated for well-documented performance issues, including chronic tardiness and a negative demeanor, while Montgomery argues that she was treated adversely because of her gender, [1] and that her alleged tardiness and poor attitude is pretextual for Medstar's discriminatory treatment and retaliatory termination. The facts that follow are taken from the record and construed in the light most favorable to Montgomery.

         a. February 2016 - August 2016 Incidents

         On February 24, 2016, Montgomery engaged in a verbal confrontation with a hospital volunteer, Terry Sheetz (“Sheetz”). Montgomery witnessed Sheetz, an elderly white woman, attempting to prevent a visitor from seeing a relative who was a patient at the hospital. ECF No. 29-2 (Montgomery Dep. 43:1-19). Montgomery intervened and escorted the visitor to her relative's room. ECF No. 29-2, Dep. Ex. 6. Sheetz then pointed her finger at Montgomery “in a threatening manner” and yelled at Montgomery that she “better not override [Sheetz's] authority like that again.” ECF No. 29-2 (Dep. Ex. 6). Montgomery reported this incident to Human Resources. Sheetz was counseled and apologized for the incident. ECF No. 29-2 (Montgomery Dep. 53:4-23); ECF No. 29-3 at ¶ 2. Medstar's Security Director also met with the hospital's volunteer coordinator to defend Montgomery's actions. ECF No. 29-4 at ¶ 3. Montgomery complained, and continues to argue, that Medstar's Human Resources department failed to accord this incident sufficient attention, and would have disciplined Sheetz more severely had Sheetz been African-American. ECF No. 29-2 (Montgomery Dep. 77:13-78:15). Medstar did not discipline Montgomery at all in connection with this incident. ECF No. 29-2 (Montgomery Dep. 77:13-78:15).

         Shortly after, Montgomery was reprimanded for not greeting visitors in the hospital lobby and, more specifically, failing to greet one of Medstar's Vice-Presidents. ECF No. 29-4 at ¶ 10; ECF No. 29-2 (Montgomery Dep. 78:21-80:20). Montgomery asked Medstar to identify the complaining “hospital VIP, ” but Human Resources refused to do so. ECF No. 29-2 (Montgomery Dep. 78:21-80:20). As a result of this reprimand, Montgomery was moved from the lobby to a different security desk with less “greeting” responsibilities for one month. She was then returned to her original post in the lobby security station. ECF No. 29-4 at ¶ 12; ECF No. 29-2 (Montgomery Dep. 17:15-18:16); ECF No. 29-2, Dep. Ex. 8.

         In April 2016, Medstar implemented a new policy where only Sergeant Security Officers could serve as the “Lead Officer” for each shift, as compared to prior policy which allowed all officers to the lead post. The Lead Officer received increased wages for the shift during which he or she acted in a lead capacity. ECF No. 29-4 at ¶ 15; ECF No. 29-2 (Montgomery Dep. 81:22-25). Montgomery avers that the policy was implemented unevenly because other male non-sergeant officers continued to act as Lead Officer on their shifts. ECF No. 29-2 (Montgomery Dep. 82:1-11); see also ECF No. 29-2 (Montgomery Dep. 88:16-89:3). The record demonstrates, however, that Montgomery acted as Lead Officer, and received the increased pay rate, on at least eleven occasions in 2016, including 105.5 total hours of “Lead Officer” pay after the change in policy. See ECF No. 29-4 at ¶¶ 20-21.

         On or around June 10, 2016, Montgomery expressed to Medstar Vice President of Operations, Kevin Mell, her displeasure regarding how she was treated on the job. Montgomery made no claim that this disfavorable treatment stemmed from her race or gender. ECF No. 29-2 (Montgomery Dep. 104:1-6).

         Beginning in July 2016, Montgomery was involved in several incidents with one of her supervisors, George Carr (“Carr”) that she believes were motivated by gender bias. In July of 2016, Montgomery accused Carr of removing her “lead pay” time punches from the employee time system. ECF No. 29-2, Dep. Ex. 8. A Human Resources' system audit, however, revealed no such tampering and that Montgomery had been fully compensated for the relevant pay period. ECF No. 29-3 at 10.

         On another occasion, Montgomery notes that her suggestion to Carr regarding officer patrols in pairs was met with Carr telling her to “get more heart.” ECF No. 29-2 (Montgomery Dep. 96:3-6); ECF No. 29-2, Dep. Ex. 8; ECF No. 29-2, Dep. Ex. 8.[2] Carr also had previously told Montgomery to “grow thicker skin.” ECF No. 29-1 at ¶ 64. In a formal complaint filed with Human Resources, Montgomery noted that on another occasion Carr yelled at her, using profanity, in front of a doctor and visitors. ECF No. 29-2, Dep. Ex. 8. Human Resources opened an investigation and, after interviewing a witness identified by Montgomery, could not corroborate her accusations. ECF No. 29-2, Dep. Ex. 9; ECF No. 29-3 at 12.

         b. September 2016 Employment Review

         On September 27, 2016, Montgomery received her mid-year employment review which gave her an overall rating of “Below Expectations.” ECF No. 29-2, Dep. Ex. 8. Although Montgomery had been previously reprimanded for tardiness and a negative attitude, see ECF No. 35-2, she had never received less than the average score of “Key Contributor” during prior performance reviews. Montgomery responded to the September 27 report by filing a letter with Human Resources which detailed the above-described incidents. Montgomery also arranged to meet with her primary supervisor, Mancuso, and other Human Resources representatives, to discuss the incidents and her performance evaluation. ECF No. 29-2, Dep. Ex. 8; ECF No. 29-3 at ¶ 6. At the meeting, Montgomery complained that she was singled out for work and felt harassed because of her gender. ECF No. 29-3 at ¶ 26, Dep. Ex. 2. Mancuso informed Montgomery that the rating of “Below Expectations” was an unintentional oversight, and that Montgomery's score would be corrected to “Key Contributor.”[3] ECF No. 29-2, Dep. Ex. 9; ECF No. 29-4 at ¶ 7. The corrected report raised her overall score, but kept unchanged the comments noting Montgomery's chronic tardiness and poor attitude. ECF No. 29-2, Dep. Ex. 13.

         c. October 2016 - December 2016 Incidents & Investigation

         On October 5, 2016, Montgomery alleges that Carr retaliated against her for her HR report by implementing a policy that prohibited Security Officers from having hair that fell below the shoulders. ECF No. 29-2 (Montgomery Dep. 210:20-211:2). Montgomery again met with Human Resources on October 7, 2016, and was given a copy of her personnel records. Human Resources offered to arrange a meeting with ...


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