United States District Court, D. Maryland
Catherine C. Blake United States District Judge.
an employment discrimination case. On January 13, 2017, the
plaintiff, Charlene Johnson, sued the defendant, Edward D.
Jones & Company, L.P. ("Edward Jones"), seeking
compensatory and punitive damages as well as attorney's
fees for Edward Jones' alleged violations of Title VII of
the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This matter is before the court
on Edward Jones' motion for summary judgment. For the
reasons stated below, the court will grant the motion.
and Procedural Background
case has a lengthy factual and procedural history, only the
relevant portions of which will be recited here. Ms. Johnson
is an African-American woman. On December 19, 2005, Edward
Jones hired Ms. Johnson as a branch office assistant
("BOA") trainee at its Prince Frederick, Maryland
branch office. On June 1, 2006, Edward Jones promoted Ms.
Johnson to a BOA and, in June 2011, to a senior
Ms. Johnson reported to Jeffrey Quesenberry, the branch
office's financial advisor. Ms. Johnson worked with Duffy
Mavilia, a white BOA at the branch office.
January to November 2015, Ms. Johnson observed scratches
on-her vehicle on four separate occasions while it was parked
during work hours. Upon discovering the first scratches'
in January 2015, Ms. Johnson notified Mr. Quesenberry of the
damage. Ms. Johnson also informed Mr, Quesenberry that it
appeared that the scratches had been painted over in red
paint, and showed him red fingernail polish that was sitting
on Ms. Mavilia's desk.
Johnson observed scratches on her car on three additional
occasions in 2015, prompting Mr. Quesenberry to suggest that
Ms. Johnson install security cameras to monitor the vehicle
during work hours.
November 20, 2015, after again discovering scratches on her
vehicle, Ms. Johnson called Edward Jones' global security
department. During the call, Ms. Johnson stated that she
suspected that Ms. Mavilia was scratching the vehicle and
that she thus was seeking advice for securing the
vehicle. Ms. Johnson reported that Ms. Mavilia at
times would suggest Ms. Johnson check her vehicle, and that
she had not reported the incidents to the police. After Ms.
Johnson identified Ms. Mavilia as the suspected vandal, Ms.
Johnson was asked, "[i]s this another BOA that's
doing this?" to which she responded "[y]es."
ECF 30-4 at p. 37.
same day, Ms. Johnson spoke by telephone with Donna Hinton
and Mark Henke, from Edward Jones' associate
relations ("AR") and global security
departments, respectively, regarding her suspicions, . Ms.
Hinton assigned Colleen Welch, a senior resolutions
specialist who reports to Ms. Hinton, to follow up on Ms.
Welch called Ms. Johnson on November 30, 2015, at which time
Ms. Johnson expressed that she had not intended to involve AR
and requested that AR cease its investigation. Ms. Welch
informed Ms. Johnson that AR's involvement was necessary
due to the seriousness of Ms. Johnson's allegations.
December 3, 2015, Ms. Johnson repeated, this time to Mr.
Quesenberry, that she did not want AR to continue in its
investigation. The following day, Ms. Welch informed Mr.
Quesenberry that -she was concerned regarding Ms.
Johnson's requests to terminate the investigation.
a January 8, 2016, conference call with Ms. Johnson and Mr.
Quesenberry, Ms. Welch noted her concerns with Ms.
Johnson's apparent wavering in her accusations against
Ms. Mavilia, signified by Ms. Johnson's requests to
terminate the investigation. Ms. Johnson reiterated her
suspicion of Ms. Mavilia.
a January 21, 2016, meeting with Ms. Welch, Mr. Quesenberry,
and Ms. Mavilia, Ms. Johnson wavered significantly on the
frequency of the damage to her vehicle, and clarified that,
while she was suspicious of Ms. Mavilia, she did not wish to
accuse her of vandalism and had never accused her of such.
Ms. Mavilia denied damaging Ms. Johnson's car. Ms. Welch
reminded Ms. Johnson that she had affirmed that another BOA
was damaging her vehicle during the November 20, 2015, call
with global security. Nonetheless, Ms. Johnson maintained
that she had never accused Ms. Mavilia of vandalizing the
January 28, 2016, Ms. Welch notified Ms. Johnson that she was
at risk of termination. Ms. Welch indicated that she believed
that Ms. Johnson had been untruthful during the
investigation, due in large part to Ms. Johnson's denial
of ever having accused Ms. Mavilia.
January 29, 2016, Ms. Johnson provided a letter to Ms. Welch,
Mr. Quesenberry, and AR generally, wherein Ms. Johnson
indicated that she felt her race was influencing the
investigation into her allegations. Later that same day, Ms.
Welch confirmed Ms. Johnson's November 20, 2015,
accusation during a conference call with Mr. Quesenberry and
Ms. Johnson. Ms. Johnson disagreed with Ms. Welch's
assessment that Ms. Johnson had accused Ms. Mavilia of
damaging her vehicle. At the end of the meeting, Ms. Welch
informed Ms. Johnson that she did not credit Ms.
Johnson's claims due to, inter alia, Ms.
Johnson's attempts to retract her accusation and
suspicions, as well as Ms. Welch's conclusion that the
scratches looked like normal wear and tear rather than
intentional damage and Ms. Johnson's failure to provide
to AR supporting documentation regarding the scratches as had
been requested previously.
February 5, 2016, Edward Jones terminated Ms. Johnson. Ms.
Welch made the ultimate decision to terminate Ms. Johnson and
informed her of that decision. Ms. Johnson filed a claim with
the Equal Employment Opportunity ...