United States District Court, D. Maryland
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Xinis United States District Judge.
before the Court in this employment discrimination case is
Defendant Advanced Behavioral Health, Inc.'s motion to
dismiss, or alternatively for summary judgment, under Federal
Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) and 56 respectively.
See ECF No. 4. The matter has been fully briefed,
and the Court now rules because no hearing is necessary.
See Loc. R. 105.6. For the reasons below,
Defendant's motion is DENIED.
following facts are taken from the Complaint and accepted as
true for purposes of this motion. See Aziz v. Alcolac,
Inc., 658 F.3d 388, 390 (4th Cir. 2011). From 2012
through her termination in 2017, Plaintiff Marissa Josiah
(“Josiah”) worked for Advanced Behavioral Health,
Inc. (“ABH”), an outpatient mental health center
with locations in Baltimore, Greenbelt, and Frederick,
Maryland, with its principal place of business in
Gaithersburg, Maryland. ECF No. 1 at ¶¶ 8-9, 16.
Josiah is a certified trauma therapist with a Master's
Degree in Counseling from Loyola University in Maryland, and
is currently working on obtaining her Ph.D. in the same
field. ECF No. 1 at ¶¶ 11-12. Josiah also belongs
to the National Honors Society for Psychology, the American
Counseling Association, and the National Board of Certified
Counselors. ECF No. 1 at ¶ 13.
began her career in 2006 as the lead foster care therapist
for Catholic Charities. ECF No. 1 at ¶ 14. Then in 2007,
Josiah moved to Sheppard Pratt Hospital, where she worked as
a therapist until ABH hired her in 2012. ECF No. 1 at
¶¶ 14-16. During her tenure at ABH, Josiah received
several promotions. By 2015, Josiah was promoted to Regional
Director and thereafter Assistant Clinic Director. ECF No. 1
at ¶ 22. In June 2015, ABH began training Josiah for the
position of Program Director. ECF No. 1 at ¶ 24. If
Josiah had become Program Director, she would have received a
roughly $40, 000 annual increase in compensation. ECF No. 1
at ¶ 28.
Josiah's tenure at ABH, Director Stephen Green
(“Green”) made inappropriate comments about
African-Americans in Josiah's presence, and specifically
targeted African-American women for adverse treatment. ECF
No. 1 at ¶ 20. For example, Green complained that white
people should have more babies, rather than African American
women, and referred to an African-American employee as
“Sista.” ECF No. 1 at ¶ 20. Similarly,
ABH's Executive Director, Karen Ropp
(“Ropp”), complained that the high turnover in
administrative staff was because the staff members were poor,
pregnant, and having children out of wedlock. ECF No. 1 at
¶ 21. Ropp also told Josiah that Ropp had worked while
pregnant, and both Ropp and Green made clear to Josiah that
the use of maternity leave was disfavored. ECF No. 1 at
was married in September 2015. ECF No. 1 at ¶ 25. In May
2016, a month before Josiah's promotion to Program
Director was to take effect, Green and Ropp informed Josiah
that she would not become Program Director after all. The
reason given for the change was that Josiah's recent
marriage led Ropp and Green to anticipate that Josiah would
soon begin having children. ECF No. 1 at ¶ 27. Even
though Josiah was denied the promotion and commensurate pay
increase, ABH nonetheless required Josiah to perform the
Program Director's job duties, and reported Josiah to be
the Program Director to the state of Maryland. ECF No. 1 at
Josiah the Program Director position was the first in a
series of adverse employment actions ABH took against her.
ECF No. 1 at ¶ 30. In July 2016, ABH changed its fee
structure in a way that disparately impacted Josiah as
compared to other Regional Directors, and as a result, she
suffered a $20, 000 reduction in annual pay. ECF No. 1 at
¶¶ 33-34. The same month, ABH assigned a new
employee to report to Josiah pursuant to the
“TNI@Schools Program, ” and because of this
assignment, ABH deducted from Josiah's salary a portion
of the new employee's salary. ECF No. 1 at ¶ 37.
When Josiah complained, ABH removed her from this program,
replaced Josiah with a Caucasian woman, and did not deduct
the cost of the new hire from the Caucasian woman's pay,
as ABH had done to Josiah. ECF No. 1 at ¶¶ 39-40.
December 2016, ABH assigned Josiah two “Assistant Area
Directors, ” again a portion of whose salary was
deducted from Josiah's salary, and even though the new
hires were actually supervised by Green. ECF No. 1 at ¶
46. Josiah was the only Regional Director who personally bore
some of the cost associated with employing two Assistant Area
Directors. ECF No. 1 at ¶¶ 41-46.
January 2017, Josiah informed ABH that she was pregnant and
due in May of 2018. ECF No. 1 at ¶ 47. Green asked
Josiah whether she was going to name her baby
“Mercedes” like other African-American women. ECF
No. 1 at ¶ 20. At the time, ABH did not have a formal
leave policy for Regional Directors, and so customarily
Regional Directors took time off as each saw fit. ECF No. 1
at ¶¶ 48-49. On February 21, 2017 ABH announced a
new paid time off policy, which Ropp stated was crafted
expressly for Josiah. ECF No. 1 at ¶ 50. Under the new
policy, ABH gave Josiah only nine days of maternity leave.
ECF No. 1 at ¶ 51. Further, in late February 2017,
Josiah received a performance evaluation which noted five
areas that needed improvement. ECF No. 1 at ¶ 52.
March 17, 2017, Josiah filed her Charge with the Equal
Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”), in
which she alleged that ABH had discriminated against her on
account of her race and sex. ECF No. 1 at ¶ 53; ECF No.
4-2. On March 29, 2017, Josiah informed ABH that she had
filed an EEOC Charge. ECF No. 1 at ¶ 53. ABH, in
response, began scrutinizing her work more closely than other
employees, manufacturing performance problems, and issuing
baseless reprimands. ECF No. 1 at ¶ 54. Josiah had never
been disciplined prior to filing the EEOC Charge. ECF No. 1
at ¶ 54.
April 21, 2017, ABH put Josiah on a performance improvement
plan (“PIP”). ECF No. 1 at ¶ 54. In a
meeting purportedly about Josiah's PIP, Ropp asked Josiah
about the EEOC Charge, which Josiah refused to discuss
without her attorney. ECF No. 1 at ¶ 55. Five days after
the PIP meeting, on April 26, 2017, ABH issued Josiah a
written warning about her job performance. This written
warning was the first written reprimand Josiah had received
in her five years with ABH. ECF No. 1 at ¶ 58. On April
27, Josiah received another written warning. ECF No. 1 at
¶¶ 60-61, 77. The conduct alleged in both written
warnings was, according to Josiah, completely fabricated. ECF
No. 1 at ¶¶ 59, 61.
grew increasingly fearful that her stress at work could
adversely affect her pregnancy, and so she began her
maternity leave early, on April 27, 2017. ECF No. 1 at ¶
62. Josiah returned from maternity leave about three months
later, on July 25, 2017, and was immediately suspended for
failing to respond to a text while on maternity leave. ECF
No. 1 at ¶ 64. ABH asked Josiah to return all company
equipment while on suspension. ECF No. 1 at ¶ 65.
Josiah, in response, went to an ABH office to disconnect her
cell phone, at which time Green, Ropp and a representative
from the Human Resources Department entered the room, shut
the door, and refused to reopen it, causing Josiah to fear
for her safety. ECF No. 1 at ¶ 65. A little over a week
later, on August 2, 2017, ABH terminated Josiah. ECF No. 1 at
September 28, 2017, the EEOC issued Josiah a right to sue
letter. ECF No. 1 at ¶ 2. Josiah filed her Complaint in
this Court on January 2, 2018, alleging violations of Title
VII, 42 U.S.C. § 1981(a), and the Pregnancy
Discrimination Act. See ECF No. 1. Josiah seeks
damages for her emotional anguish, pain and suffering, injury
to her professional standing and reputation, as well as
stress-related complications during the labor and delivery of
her daughter. ECF ...