United States District Court, D. Maryland
L. Hollander United States District Judge.
Jasaan Allah Qiydaar, who is self represented, instituted
suit against defendant People Encouraging People, Inc.
(“PEP”), seeking both damages and injunctive
relief for unlawful suspension, transfer, and discharge, in
violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42
U.S.C. §2000e et seq. (“Title
VII”). ECF 1. Defendant's motion for summary
judgment is now pending. ECF 14. It is supported by two
exhibits. Plaintiff opposes the motion (ECF 16), and has
submitted numerous exhibits. PEP has replied. ECF 17.
parties have fully briefed the issues, and no oral argument
is necessary. See Local Rule 105.6. For the reasons
set forth below, the Motion shall be granted in part and
denied in part.
is an African-American resident of Baltimore, Maryland who
was employed by PEP from May 2015 to May 2016. ECF 16-1,
¶¶ 1-2; ECF 16-31. PEP is a privately owned
nonprofit behavioral healthcare corporation based in
Baltimore, which provides rehabilitation and support services
to disadvantaged and disabled individuals at various
locations throughout Maryland. ECF 14-1, ¶ 3.
between Qiydaar and PEP began to sour in December 2015, after
the parties discussed the possibility of Qiydaar receiving a
promotion for which he was ultimately passed over. ECF 14-1,
¶ 5; ECF 16-1, ¶¶ 5, 6. Qiydaar alleges that
PEP offered him the promotion but then rescinded that offer.
ECF 16-1, ¶¶ 5, 6. The position was offered instead
to another African-American male employee. ECF 14-1, ¶
5. Qiydaar claims that in the months following this decision
there was increasing racial tension at PEP. ECF 16-1,
tension came to a head during a staff meeting held on March
16, 2016. ECF 14-1, ¶ 7; ECF 16-1, ¶ 11. Although
the parties dispute the specifics of what occurred at that
staff meeting, they agree on certain basic facts: Qiydaar
said he was not available to help with a particular task
after which a white employee cursed at him in front of
PEP's Director of Human Resources, Terry Bennington. ECF
14-1, ¶ 7; ECF 16-1, ¶¶ 11-15.
Qiydaar's Initial Complaints
believed that Bennington's response to the incident was
inadequate, but consistent with the demeaning treatment he
had been receiving for months, so he complained to PEP's
Chief Executive Officer, Dale Meyer, via email the next day.
ECF 16-1, ¶¶ 12, 16-18. In the email of March 17,
2016, Qiydaar said that he could not “remain silent any
longer” in light of the events of the preceding day.
ECF 16-3. He complained that a generally hostile work
environment had developed in which he had been harassed,
intimidated, micromanaged, demeaned, threatened with
termination, excessively monitored, criticized, disrespected,
and devalued. Id.
to plaintiff, two groups had developed within PEP, “one
which is comprised of non-African-American staff which makes
all the major decisions regarding our program; and another,
which is comprised of African-American staff that receives
marching orders and threats of termination.”
Id. Qiydaar claimed that “allowing specific
colleagues to publicly mistreat other colleagues further
undermines the integrity and cohesiveness of the . . .
program.” Id. Therefore, he asked Meyer to
“use the power of [her] position to address the
inappropriate behavior that has created such a hostile work
morning of Tuesday, March 22, 2016, Qiydaar met with
Bennington and PEP Vice President Michelle Weaver-Johns. ECF
1, ¶ 23; ECF 16-17. The meeting ended in a manner
unsatisfactory to Qiydaar, who claims that Bennington and
Weaver-Johns made “several excuses” on behalf of
the employee who had cursed at him and complained for the
first time that some of Qiydaar's previous conduct had
made another employee uncomfortable. ECF 16-17. Although
Bennington promised to speak with Qiydaar's white
colleagues and then follow up with him, she did not do so.
ECF 1, ¶ 23.
afternoon, Qiydaar spoke out again at a staff meeting about
the disparity in treatment between employees of different
races. ECF 1, ¶ 23. Certain of Qiydaar's
African-American colleagues also complained at this meeting,
and Qiydaar corroborated the factual bases for their
complaints. ECF 1, ¶ 23; ECF 16-17.
Requests for Qiydaar's Weekly Schedule and
Qiydaar's Continued Complaints
Friday, March 18, 2016, PEP Intake Specialist Veronica Craig
sent Qiydaar an email asking him to list his job duties in a
responsive email by noon on Monday, March 21, 2016. ECF 16-1,
¶ 26. Although Qiydaar did not immediately respond, he
did so when reminded. Id. Qiydaar then received
permission to go on vacation on Thursday, March 24, 2016 and
Friday, March 25, 2016. ECF 16-1, ¶ 27. On Thursday,
March 24, 2016, Craig sent an email to numerous individuals,
including Qiydaar, stating: “Please submit your weekly
schedule for the week of March 28, 2016 by 5 pm Friday March
25, 2016. The schedule should include all client
appointments, home visits, transportation schedules and any
other times you are away from the building.” ECF 14-1
at 14. Because Qiydaar was out of the office, he did not
submit his schedule. ECF 16-1, ¶¶ 28-29.
Monday, March 28, 2016, Qiydaar returned to work and, having
heard nothing from Meyer about his complaint, submitted a
formal incident report regarding the March 16th incident to
PEP Vice President Stephen Palla. ECF 16-1, ¶ 22; ECF
16-4. The incident report stated: “On Wednesday, March
16, 2016 I was verbally harassed and assaulted by Katie Glen
at our regularly scheduled TAY team meeting. During my
conversation with another colleague (Lisa Meyer Coco), Ms.
Glen inserted herself into the discussion. Ms. Glen was very
aggressive and used profanity when she addressed me.”
sent an email to Qiydaar and two other individuals on
Tuesday, March 29, stating: “Please submit your
detailed schedule for this week to me by 12 noon
today.” ECF 14-1 at 15. Qiydaar did not submit his
schedule, however. ECF 14-1, ¶ 10. He claims he failed
to do so because a staff meeting at PEP headquarters
“kept [him] away from [his] office for most of the
day.” ECF 16-1, ¶ 31.
Wednesday, March 30, still having heard nothing from Meyer or
Palla about his complaints, Qiydaar sent an email to
Bennington, copying both Meyer and Palla. ECF 16-17. Qiydaar
complained about the lack of response to his disparate
treatment claims and about what he believed to be the
fabricated complaint that he had made another employee
“uncomfortable.” Id. Qiydaar requested a
follow-up meeting to discuss his hostile work environment
complaint, an unbiased investigation into the March 16th
incident, and an apology from the employee who had cursed at
Thursday, March 31, Craig sent an email to Bennington,
stating: “Jasaan Qiydaar did not turn in his weekly
schedule. I received schedules from everyone else.” ECF
14-1 at 16. In turn, Bennington sent Qiydaar an email that
said: “Good morning as of today I have not received
your schedule as Veronica requested on 3/24/16 and again on
3/29/2016. I will need your schedule by 1:00 today so that I
can complete [a] task I need to do for my job.” ECF
14-1 at 18. Later that same day, Craig sent an email to
numerous individuals, including Qiydaar, stating:
“Please submit your weekly schedule for the week of
April 4, 2016 by noon Friday April 1, 2016.” ECF 14-1
Friday, April 1, 2016, at 5:44 p.m., Qiydaar emailed a weekly
schedule to Bennington. ECF 16-6. Qiydaar explained that he
had been out of work on March 24th and 25th and offsite on
March 29th, and claimed he had just received the most recent
request for his schedule. Id. He also mentioned that
although he had texted Bennington the previous day and seen
her twice that day, she had not mentioned anything about
needing his schedule. Id. He expressed the belief
that PEP was requesting his schedule and making it difficult
to comply with the request as pretext to retaliate against
him for complaining about the racially hostile work
Monday, April 4, 2016, Bennington sent Qiydaar an email
stating that Qiydaar's failure to submit his weekly
schedule as requested was “viewed as a refusal to
provide it, constituting insubordination.” ECF 14-1 at
19. Bennington acknowledged that Qiydaar had sent her a
schedule on Friday, April 1 at 5:44 P.M., along with excuses
for the delay, but explained why the excuses were deficient
and noted that the schedule was “incomplete.”
Id. “In closing, ” Bennington stated,
id. at 20:
[B]y failing and refusing to provide your work schedule with
dates, times, and client names of all appointments to me for
two (2) months, you have been insubordinate. I have not asked
you to do anything that your co-workers have not been asked
to do, and have done. Because you have continued to be
insubordinate despite numerous requests to comply, you are
hereby suspended without pay until you provide me a complete
and accurate schedule with time, date, and other needed
the email stated that Qiydaar had not submitted his schedules
for almost two months, PEP provided no evidence of this fact.
Qiydaar claims that the weekly schedule submission policy was
invented for the first time on March 24, 2016. ECF 16-1,
¶¶ 27-30; ECF 21. When PEP was asked to identify
any schedule submission policy that was in place prior to
March 24, 2016, it was unable to do so. ECF 19. Instead, it
pointed to two isolated emails, one sent on February 4, 2016
and the other on February 8, 2016. They asked Qiydaar and one
other employee to submit “client contact notes.”
ECF 20 at 6-7.
Monday, April 4, 2016, Qiydaar repeatedly reached out to
Bennington via text, asking her for updates on the status of
his suspension. ECF 16-19 at 1. On Friday, April 8,
Bennington finally responded, telling Qiydaar that his
suspension would continue as long as she did not receive from
him the necessary information regarding his work schedule.
Id. Qiydaar responded, asking her to “please
specify what information . . . and I will do my best to
submit it . . . .” Id. Bennington never did
so. Id. Qiydaar continued to text Bennington,
without any response. Id.
emailed Meyer on Monday, April 11, 2016, asking for an update
on the status of his suspension. Id. Meyer never
responded. Id. Qiydaar continued to reach out to
both Bennington and Meyer daily, until Thursday, April 14,
2016, at which point Bennington texted Qiydaar: “You
still have not complied with the documentation requested.
Thank you.” Id. Qiydaar responded,
id. at 1-2:
On 4/7/2016 I asked you to specify what was requested . . .
you did not respond so I attempted to reach out to you
several times on 4/8/2016 . . . . At the end of the day you
stated you would contact me on 4/9/2016 but you did not . . .
. [A] week later I'm still awaiting an explanation of
what you're requiring me to do [to] end this unlawful
“indefinite suspension without pay” . . . .
Unfortunately this suspension has been extended because you
and the CEO have chosen to ignore my daily requests for an
update on my employment status . . . . Please specify
what's being asked of me . . . .
Sunday, April 17, Bennington informed Qiydaar that he needed
to include client names on his schedule in order to be
released from his suspension. ECF 16 at 9. Qiydaar claims
that as soon as Bennington related that information, he
submitted an updated weekly schedule with client names. ECF
16-9. PEP neither confirms nor denies this claim.
Monday, April 18, 2016, Bennington sent Qiydaar a letter
notifying him that he was being transferred to a new position
at a different PEP office. ECF 14-1 at 21. Bennington stated
that the new position was comparable to his old position and
that he would be paid the same salary and receive the same
benefits. The letter stated: “This change is being made
because of the insurgency you demonstrated while employed in
the Transitional Age Youth program, having been unwilling to
produce schedules required to track your activities.”
Id. PEP claims that it could ...