United States District Court, D. Maryland
U.S. EQUAL EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITY COMMISSION
ENOCH PRATT FREE LIBRARY, ET AL.
Catherine C. Blake, United States District Judge
Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) filed this
suit against Enoch Pratt Free Library and the Mayor and City
of Baltimore ("the defendants") alleging pay
discrimination in violation of the Equal Pay Act of 1963
("EPA"). Now pending before the court is the
defendants' motion to dismiss. (ECF No. 12.) This motion
has been fully briefed, and no oral argument is necessary to
its resolution. See Local Rule 105.6 (D. Md. 2016).
For the reasons that follow, the motion will be denied.
Enoch Pratt Free Library ("Enoch Pratt") is a
library system that operates in the city of Baltimore,
Maryland. (Compl. ¶ 4, ECF No. 1.) Among its various
employees are Librarian Supervisor I's who are
"responsible for administering and operating a branch
library." (Id. ¶ 12(a).) These employees
"have moderate-sized staffs and administrative
responsibilities" and "perform the same core
duties." (Id. ¶ 12(c).) Librarian
Supervisor I's are required to have a Master's Degree
in Library Science from an American Library
Association-accredited college or university and three years
of library supervisory experience. (Id. ¶
Supervisor I's are paid according to the Managerial and
Professional classification system, which currently provides
a salary range of $59, 600 to $95, 400 for this position.
(Id. ¶ 12(f).) New Librarian Supervisor I's
may be hired at a starting salary of up to $77, 500, the
midpoint of the range. (Id.) Since July 2015, there
have been no formal steps within the salary range for a
position, and merit pay increases are provided based on
performance evaluations. (Id.) Prior to that date,
the classification system was based on longevity of service.
(Id.) Specific branch location does not influence
the salaries of Librarian Supervisors I. (Id. ¶
Marie Harvey has worked as a Librarian Supervisor I at the
Waverly Branch within Enoch Pratt since January 2002.
(Id. ¶ 12(a).) Willie Johnson was employed as a
Librarian Supervisor I from August 2004 to February 2014,
when he resigned. (Id. ¶ 12(h).) Prior to his
resignation, Mr. Johnson was paid a lower salary than Ms.
Harvey and four other identified female Librarian Supervisor
I's. (Id. ¶ 12(i).) These five women had
more supervisory and librarian experience than Mr. Johnson.
(Id. ¶ 12(j).) When he was rehired as a
Librarian Supervisor I in 2015, Mr. Johnson was paid at a
higher rate ($68, 900) than the five female Library
Supervisor I's. (Id. ¶ 12 (g,
Mr. Johnson was rehired without a specific open position, so
initially he was assigned to work at the Brooklyn Branch,
where another female Librarian Supervisor I already worked.
(Id. ¶ 12(o).) He was reassigned to the
Northwood Branch after another female Library Supervisor I
retired, and his pay did not change. (Id. ¶
Harvey learned of the pay disparity in March 2016.
(Id. ¶ 12(r).) She complained to the
defendants, who have not increased her salary, nor those of
the other four female Librarian Supervisor I's.
(Id. ¶ 12(s-u).)
EEOC filed this complaint on September 27, 2017, alleging
that since at least June 27, 2016, the defendants have paid
Ms. Harvey and other female Librarian Supervisor I's a
lower wage than their male counterparts for performing equal
work. (Id. ¶ 12.) The defendants filed a motion
to dismiss for failure to state a claim on February 26, 2018.
The EEOC filed its opposition on March 5, 2018. (ECF No. 14.)
The defendants filed their reply on March 20, 2018. (ECF No.
ruling on a motion under Rule 12(b)(6), the court must
"accept the well-pled allegations of the complaint as
true," and "construe the facts and reasonable
inferences derived therefrom in the light most favorable to
the plaintiff." Ibarra v. United States, 120
F.3d 472, 474 (4th Cir. 1997). "Even though the
requirements for pleading a proper complaint are
substantially aimed at assuring that the defendant be given
adequate notice of the nature of a claim being made against
him, they also provide criteria for defining issues for trial
and for early disposition of inappropriate complaints."
Francis v. Giacomelli, 588 F.3d 186, 192 (4th Cir.
2009). "The mere recital of elements of a cause of
action, supported only by conclusory statements, is not
sufficient to survive a motion made pursuant to Rule
12(b)(6)." Walters v. McMahen, 684 F.3d 435,
439 (4th Cir. 2012) (citing Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556
U.S. 662, 678 (2009)). To survive a motion to dismiss, the
factual allegations of a complaint "must be enough to
raise a right to relief above the speculative level on the
assumption that all the allegations in the complaint are true
(even if doubtful in fact)." Bell Atlantic Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (internal citations
omitted). "To satisfy this standard, a plaintiff need
not 'forecast' evidence sufficient to prove the
elements of the claim. However, the complaint must allege
sufficient facts to establish those elements."
Walters, 684 F.3d at 439 (citation omitted).
"Thus, while a plaintiff does not need to demonstrate in
a complaint that the right to relief is 'probable,'
the complaint must advance the plaintiffs claim 'across
the line from conceivable to plausible.'"
Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570).
EPA prohibits gender-based discrimination by employers
resulting in unequal pay for equal work." U.S. Equal
Employment Opportunity Commission v. Maryland, 879 F.3d
114, 120 (4th Cir. 2018) (citing 29 U.S.C. § 206(d)(1);
Corning Glass Works v. Brennan, 417 U.S. 188, 195
(1974)). "To successfully plead a case of sex
discrimination under the EPA, a plaintiff must plausibly
allege: '(1) that her employer has paid different wages
to employees of opposite sexes; (2) that the employees hold
jobs that require equal skill, effort, and responsibility;
and (3) that such jobs are performed under similar working
conditions.'" Rear don v. Herring, 191
F.Supp.3d 529, 547 (E.D.Va. 2016) (quoting Maron v.
Virginia Polytechnic Inst. & State Univ., 508
Fed.Appx. 226, 232 (4th Cir. 2013)).
defendants argue that the complaint should be dismissed
because the EEOC did not allege pay discrimination with
sufficient specificity. They argue not enough detail was
provided regarding the job responsibilities of Mr. Johnson
and the female Librarian Supervisor I's to determine
whether they were actually performing equal work. This
argument fails. Taking the facts in the complaint as true,
the EEOC has pled sufficient facts to support its claim and
cross the line from conceivable to plausible. The facts
alleged go beyond conclusory statements. The Librarian
Supervisor Ts require the same educational and experiential
qualifications: a master's degree in Library Science and
three years of relevant supervisory experience. All Librarian
Supervisor I's share the same core duties of operating a
branch library, managing moderate-sized staffs, and
performing accompanying administrative duties. Notably, the
specific branch placement does not impact their salaries.
to Mr. Johnson as a comparator, he was not hired to perform a
specific job at a specific branch, but was hired generally
and provided a permanent position only after another
Librarian Supervisor I retired. Prior to this opening, he was
staffed at the same branch as a female Librarian Supervisor I
and had overlapping responsibilities with her. His salary did
not change when he became the sole Librarian Supervisor I at
the new branch. It is reasonable to infer from the facts
stated in the complaint that managing different branch
libraries, within the same city requires the same substantive
responsibilities in similar working conditions, particularly
in light of the fact that Mr. Johnson was hired without a
particular branch position open and was permanently assigned
only after, another Librarian Supervisor I retired. These
facts rise above mere conclusory statements.
defendants rely heavily on E.E. O. C. v. Port Authority
of New York and New Jersey, a case in which the Second
Circuit upheld a decision granting judgment on the pleadings
to the defendant. 768 F.3d 247 (2d Cir. 2014.) There, the
court found that the broad descriptions of attorneys'
work across various departments and the haphazard selection
of comparators was insufficient to state a plausible claim.
The Second Circuit stressed that their determination was
informed by the fact that during its administrative
investigation "the EEOC had ready access to Port
Authority documents and employees, including to the claimants
asserting EPA violations, yet the EEOC failed-in fact
repeatedly rejected the need-to allege any factual basis for
-inferring that the attorneys at issue performed
substantially equal work." Id. at 258. The
context surrounding that case is critically different from
the present case. Relying on "judicial experience and
common sense," as encouraged by the Second Circuit, the
court notes that the employing institution in this case
appears to be smaller, the number of employees much more
limited, and the employees at issue do not appear to have as
varied job responsibilities as the various attorneys employed
across many different divisions within the Port Authority.
The EEOC cites to a case from another district within this
circuit, Reardon v. Herring, which provides a more
apt comparison, noting that "[r]equiring such
comprehensive factual detail at this stage would be contrary
to Fed.R.Civ.P. 8's requirement of 'a short and plain
statement of the claim' showing that the pleader is
entitled to relief." 191 F.Supp.3d at 549. As in
Reardon, the plaintiff here did assert the job
responsibilities of the employees at issue. The
factor-by-factor comparison ...