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Danial v. Morgan State University

United States District Court, D. Maryland

July 27, 2018



          Catherine C. Blake, United States District Judge

         Plaintiff Edward J. Danial brought this suit against his employer, Morgan State University, alleging discrimination on the basis of race and retaliation in violation of Title VII of . the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ("Title VII") and breach of contract. The defendant has moved to dismiss five of the eight claims brought by Mr. Danial. Mr. Danial has filed a motion to file a surreply. The issues in this case have been fully briefed, and no hearing is necessary. See Local R. 105.6. For the reasons stated below, the motion to dismiss will be granted and the motion to file a surreply will be denied.

         BACKGROUND [1]

         Mr. Danial identifies as white, and was employed as a contractual math professor by Morgan State University ("MSU"), a historically black institution, for twenty years. (Compl. Ex. 2 at 1.) For much of that time, his contract was renewed automatically without requiring reapplication. (Id.) Mr. Danial's claims relate to a series of incidents that occurred over the course of his more recent employment.

         Mr. Danial alleges that the then-department chair, Dr. Earl Barnes, asked him to teach an additional course in Spring 2010. (Id. at 13.) This request allegedly was made in December 2009, shortly before the start of the semester. Mr. Danial did not sign a contract regarding this course, but believed he would be paid $5, 600 for teaching it. (Id.) On March 16, 2010, after the semester had begun, he was offered a contract with $3, 300 in payment for one graduate course he was teaching. (Id. at 13-14.) He refused the offer, arguing that "the graduate course in the past always counted as two undergraduate courses; and hence I should be paid" $5, 600. (Id. at 14.) Mr. Danial never reached an agreement regarding payment for this course, so he never signed a contract regarding payment. (Id. at 13-14.)

         In April 2013, MSU advertised tenure-track positions. Mr. Danial submitted an application for a tenure-track position on October 28, 2013. He was not selected. A faculty member Mr. Danial identifies as African American was selected for a tenure-track position, although Mr. Danial claims she had less experience than he did and did not make "much contribution to the department." (Id. at 12.)

         Also in Fall 2013, Dr. Alvin Kennedy, the new Dean of the School of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences, announced that faculty would be required to reapply for their positions at the expiration of their current one-year contracts. (Id.) This announcement was repeated by Dr. Asamoah Nkwanta, the Chair of the Mathematics Department. (Id. at 2.)

         At the end of the Fall 2013 semester, Dr. Nkwanta announced to six of the twenty-one math faculty members, including Mr. Danial, that their contracts might be cancelled for the Spring 2014 semester. One of the six was black. Only one of the six, a white faculty member, actually had his contract cancelled for the Spring 2014 semester. Allegedly, black faculty with less experience were not notified that their contracts might be cancelled, nor were their contracts actually cancelled. (Id.)

         On April 21, 2014, Mr. Danial submitted an application to be the Director of the Actuarial Science Program. He claims that he "buil[t the] actuarial science major and minor" and "built much of the courses to those programs." (Id. at 13.) Also in Spring 2014, faculty were told to submit their resumes to reapply for their positions for Fall 2014. Mr. Danial submitted his resume with supporting documentation on April.25, 2014. (Id. at 3.) His application was rejected on July 25, 2014. Mr. Danial alleges that similarly situated faculty had their contracts renewed. He requested a reason for, his rejection from Dr. Nkwanta, but says none was given. He was allegedly offered a part-time lecturer position and told to return on August 4, 2014 to finalize his courses as a part-time lecturer. (Id.1)

         On July 29, 2014, Mr. Danial met with Dean Kennedy and requested a reason for his rejection. (Id. at 4.) Mr. Kennedy said he did not meet the department's current needs, which Mr. Danial contested. At this meeting, Mr. Danial allegedly informed Dean Kennedy that he believed the notification of the possibility of contract cancellation made to 5 white and 1 black faculty members in Fall 2013 was discrimination. (Id.) The same day, Mr. Danial met with Tanyka Barber, the MSU Equal Employment Opportunity Office Coordinator ("EEO Coordinator"), and raised his concerns regarding discrimination in his application's rejection and the Fall 2013 notices. (Id.)

         On August 4, 2014, Mr. Danial met with Dr. Nkwanta,' who refused to hire him for a part-time position. (Id. at 8-9.) Mr. Danial contacted Ms. Barber and claimed this denial was in retaliation for his allegation of discrimination. He then filed a form and supporting documentation outlining his discrimination allegations with Ms. Barber on August 6, 2014. (Id.) Later in August 2014, Mr. Danial learned more about two new faculty hires in the math department. He identifies these individuals as black and claims they have less experience than he does. (Compl. Ex. 2 at 5-6.) In Fall 2014, Dr. Traci Allotey, whom Mr. Danial also identifies as black, was hired for the Director of Actuarial Science position.

         Mr. Danial continued to discuss his complaint with Ms. Barber into January 2015. (See Suppl. Ex.BXI, EGF No. 47-3. (emails exchanged between Mr. Danial and Ms. Barber during January 2015).) He filed a charge of discrimination with the Maryland Commission on Civil Rights regarding the alleged hiring discrimination and retaliation on February 4, 2015. (Id. at 6; Compl. Ex. 4, Copies of the EEOC/MCCR Charges at 2-3, ECF No. 1-5.) Mr. Danial claims that "the MSU EEO office did not provide any written procedure to conduct a discrimination complaint" and that he discussed the lack of procedures with Ms. Barber and her supervisor, Amanda Grant, on February 4, 2015. (Id. at 10.) He claims to have filed charges relating to the lack of written guidelines on February 10, 2015, relating to the denial of promotion to Director of the Actuarial Science Program on February 19, 2015, and regarding the denial of his tenure-track application on February 25, 2015. (Id.)[2] In late March 2015, Mr. Danial located discrimination guidelines on the MSU website. (Id. at 10.)

         Mr. Danial alleges in his complaint that Ms. Barber never responded to his hiring complaint, and that he complained to Ms. Grant about this on February 4, 2015. (Id. at 11.) He states that Ms. Barber "repeatedly avoided addressing my complaint, over 3 periods by now, by repeated lies and avoiding me face-to-face in any mediation meetings at MCCR." (Id. at 12.) He has acknowledged in later filings in this case, however, that the claim was investigated. (Compare Id. at 9 with Am. Suppl. Resp. Opp. Mot. D at 25, ECF No. 48.)

         Mr. Danial had also been employed by the CAS A Program in the summers. On March 18, 2015, Mr. Danial asked the director of the program to consider him for Summer 2015 employment with the CASA Program. (Compl. Ex. 2 at 15.) On May 20, 2015, his request was denied. (Id.) When asked for a reason, he was told enrollment was too low. On the same phone call he learned that the program had recently hired a less-credentialed individual whom Mr. Danial identifies as black. On May 26, 2015, Mr. Danial contacted the program director's supervisor and alleged racial discrimination in their decision not to hire him. (Id.) On July 8, 2015, Mr. Danial again contacted the program director and her supervisor claiming that another "black faculty with far less teaching experience and academic credentials, namely Ms. Renu Ahuja (black from Indian origin)" had been hired over him. (Id. at 16.) He received no response. Mr. Danial believes he was not hired for the CASA program in retaliation for his discrimination claims regarding the Math department. (Id.) On July 18, 2015, Mr. Danial filed a formal charge of discrimination regarding the CASA program with the MCCR. (Id. at 16; Compl. Ex. 4 at 4-5.)

         Mr. Danial also applied for positions with the Math Department in Fall 2015 and Fall 2016 and was denied. (Compl. Ex. 2 at 8.) He applied to the CASA Program again in 2016 and 2017 and was also denied. (Id. at 16.) On January 4, 2017 and January 18, 2017, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission issued notices of right to sue regarding the Math Department hiring discrimination claim and the CASA Program discrimination claim, respectively.

         On April 6, 2017, Mr. Danial filed suit against Morgan State University and the MSU president, David Wilson, in this court. (Compl., ECF No. 1). He alleges discrimination in violation of Title VII, breach of contract, and violation of his freedom of speech. Specifically, his eight claims are: "(1) Discrimination in Hiring; (2) Retaliation for Charging Discrimination; (3) Lack of Written Guidelines for Investigating Discrimination Claims; (4) Failure to Address a Discrimination Complaint; (5) Discrimination in Failing to Convert Him to Tenure Track; (6) Discrimination in Failing to Promote Him to Director of the Actuarial Science Program; (7) Breach of Contract For Failure to Pay an Amount of $5, 600.00; and (8) Discrimination and Retaliation in Failing to Hire Him for the CASA Program." (Memo. Supp. Mot. D. at 1-2; see generally Compl. Ex. 2.)[3] On December 21, 2017, MSU filed a motion to dismiss, or, in the alternative for summary judgment as to claims 3, A, 5, 6, and 7.[4] (ECF No. 34.) Mr. Danial filed his opposition on January 8, 2018 (ECF No. 42), filed ...

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