United States District Court, D. Maryland
Xinis United States District Judge.
before the Court in this employment discrimination action is
Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment. ECF No. 44. The
matter has been fully briefed, and no hearing is necessary.
See D. Md. Loc. R. 105.6. Upon consideration of the
parties' arguments, the Court GRANTS Defendant's
Motion for Summary Judgment.
October 4, 2012, Defendant Family Dollar, Inc. (“Family
Dollar”) hired Plaintiff Fay Cole as a cashier at the
Family Dollar store located at 4848 Addison Road South,
Capitol Heights, Maryland. ECF No. 17 ¶ 5. Cole suffers
from a psychiatric condition and from arthritis in her back
and knees. ECF No. 17 ¶ 6. Prior to her hiring, Cole was
interviewed by the store's manager, a woman whose name
she cannot remember. ECF No. 17 ¶ 7; ECF No. 45 at 5-6
(Cole Dep. 72:20-73:2). Although Cole did not discuss her
medical conditions with the manager during the interview, she
wore a brace on her knee to the meeting. ECF No. 45 at 6
(Cole Dep. 73:3-17). At some point after she was hired, Cole
discussed her psychiatric condition with the unnamed manager,
and was given medical leave for a hospitalization. ECF No. 45
at 6-7 (Cole Dep. 73:18-74:10). Cole did not work during her
hospitalization, which lasted from November 1, 2012, until
November 20, 2012. ECF No. 45 at 22-12 (Cole Dep.
about November 4, 2012, during Cole's hospital stay,
Family Dollar assigned Tiffanii Thompson to be the store
manager for the Capitol Heights location. ECF No. 44-6 at 3
(Neely Aff. ¶ 8). Cole stated that, after she returned
to work, Thompson made disparaging remarks about Cole's
age. ECF No. 52-1 at 5 (Cole Dec. ¶ 8). Cole also stated
that Thompson spoke about her desire to hire younger workers,
and that instead of assigning Cole additional work hours when
Cole requested them, Thompson hired a younger employee and
then cut Cole's hours. ECF No. 52-1 at 5 (Cole Dec.
reported Thompson's comments to a district manager,
Marsha Walker, and subsequently complained to Family
Dollar's Human Resources department in early January
2013. ECF No. 52-1 at 5 (Cole Dec. ¶ 9). After Cole
complained, Walker held a meeting with Cole and Thompson,
during which Walker “scolded” Cole for her
complaint, but took no action to remedy Cole's concerns.
ECF No. 52-1 at 5 (Cole Dec. ¶ 10). As a result of her
complaint, Cole contends that Thompson retaliated against her
by not assigning Cole shift hours and then by terminating her
employment on January 21, 2013. See ECF No. 45 at 34
(Cole Dep. 176:7-10).
Dollar contends that Thompson did not reduce Cole's
hours, but rather increased them as Cole requested. Family
Dollar further contends that Cole was fired for excessive
absences from work, specifically six unexcused absences in
the two months after she returned in late November, the final
two of which occurred on January 18 and 19,
2013. The Family Dollar attendance policy, as
memorialized in the employee handbook, requires that an
employee “speak with his/her Manager daily if for any
reason he/she is going to be late or absent.” ECF No.
45 at 44. Cole was aware of this requirement. ECF No. 45 at
8-9 (Cole Dep. 75:19-76:6). It is also Family Dollar policy
that an employee may be fired for a single unexcused absence
from work. ECF No. 44-4 at 9 (Family Dollar Dep. 57:2-8).
record reflects that Thompson fired twelve employees for
absenteeism in the approximately one year she spent as
manager of the Capitol Heights store, including Cole. ECF No.
44-6 at 3 (Neely Aff. ¶ 8). Of the employees fired, nine
were under the age of 40 and three, including Cole, were over
the age of 40. ECF No. 44-6 at 3 (Neely Aff. ¶ 8). Of
those twelve fired employees, Cole was the only employee who
requested an accommodation or who complained of discriminatory
treatment. See ECF No. 44-6 at 4 (Neely Aff. ¶
February 14, 2013, Cole filed a charge of discrimination with
the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
(“EEOC”). ECF No. 44-7. Cole subsequently filed
suit in this Court, alleging age discrimination in violation
of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, 29 U.S.C.
§§ 623 et seq. (“ADEA”) and
analogous provisions of the Prince George's County Code
(Counts I & II), and disability discrimination in
violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C.
§§ 12101 et seq. (“ADA”) and
the Prince George's County Code (Counts III & IV).
See ECF No. 17. Family Dollar moves for summary
judgment on all counts. ECF No. 44. For the following
reasons, the Court grants Family Dollar's motion.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
judgment is appropriate when the Court, construing all
evidence and drawing all reasonable inferences in the light
most favorable to the non-moving party, finds no genuine
dispute exists as to any material fact, thereby entitling the
movant to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a);
see In re Family Dollar FLSA Litig., 637 F.3d 508,
512 (4th Cir. 2011). Summary judgment must be granted
“against a party who fails to make a showing sufficient
to establish the existence of an element essential to that
party's case, and on which that party will bear the
burden of proof at trial.” Celotex Corp. v.
Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). “In responding
to a proper motion for summary judgment, ” the opposing
party “must present evidence of specific facts from
which the finder of fact could reasonably find for him or
her.” Venugopal v. Shire Labs., 334 F.Supp.2d
835, 840 (D. Md. 2004), aff'd sub nom. Venugopal v.
Shire Labs., Inc., 134 Fed.Appx. 627 (4th Cir. 2005)
(citing Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, 477 U.S. 242, 252
(1986); Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322-23)). The
“mere existence of a scintilla of evidence in
support” of the party opposing summary judgment is
insufficient to defeat the motion. Anderson v. Liberty
Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 252 (1986). Genuine disputes
of material fact are not created “through mere
speculation or the building of one inference upon
another.” Othentec Ltd. v. Phelan, 526 F.3d
135, 140 (4th Cir. 2008) (quoting Beale v. Hardy,
769 F.2d 213, 214 (4th Cir. 1985)). Where a party's
statement of a fact is “blatantly contradicted by the
record, so that no reasonable jury could believe it, ”
the Court credits the record. See Scott v. Harris,
550 U.S. 372, 380 (2007).
Claims Under the Prince George's County Code
initial matter, Family Dollar contends that Cole's claims
brought pursuant to the Prince George's County Code are
time-barred. The Court agrees. Such claims must be filed in
court within two years of the alleged discriminatory act. Md.
Code, State Gov't § 20- 1202(c)(1); see Olawole
v. ActioNet, Inc., 258 F.Supp.3d 694, 707 (E.D. Va.
2017). It is undisputed that Cole's relationship with
Family Dollar ended on the date of her termination: January
21, 2013. Therefore, any action related to Cole's case
must have been filed by January 21, 2015. Cole did not bring
this action until February 10, 2017-more ...