United States District Court, D. Maryland
TASHIA M. BAGWELL Plaintiff,
DOWNTOWN PARTNERSHIP OF BALTIMORE, INC. Defendant.
Lipton Hollander United States District Judge
employment discrimination case, plaintiff Tashia M. Bagwell
has sued her former employer, Downtown Partnership of
Baltimore, Inc. (“Downtown”). ECF 1. Her suit
contains four counts: a claim of race discrimination in
violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42
U.S.C. §§ 2000e et seq. (“Title
VII”) (Count I); wrongful discharge under Maryland
common law (Count II); disparate treatment, in violation of
Title VII (Count III); and violation of the First and
Fourteenth Amendments, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983
(Count IV). ECF 1. Plaintiff seeks declaratory relief,
compensatory and punitive damages, and attorney's fees
and expenses. Id. ¶ 35.
response, defendant filed a partial motion to dismiss (ECF
14), supported by a memorandum of law (ECF 14-1)
(collectively, the “Motion”), as well as an
answer as to Counts I and III of the Complaint. ECF 15. In
particular, defendant seeks dismissal of Counts II and IV of
the Complaint, under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). See ECF
14-1. Bagwell opposes the Motion. ECF 19
(“Opposition”). Defendant replied. ECF 20
Motion is fully briefed and no hearing is necessary to
resolve it. See Local Rule 105.6. For the reasons
that follow, I shall grant the Motion.
Factual and Procedural Background 
an African-American woman, began her employment with Downtown
on November 13, 2006, as an administrative assistant. ECF 1,
¶ 5. Downtown is a “corporation . . . engaged in
the business of supporting workforce development and
overseeing the largest business improvement district in
Baltimore, MD.” Id. ¶ 2.
November 2, 2017, Bagwell received a company-wide email from
Kirby Fowler, Downtown's President. Id. ¶
6. The email pertained to “the promotions of two
employees. Plaintiff replied to the all-staff email by
congratulating those individuals.” Id. ¶
6. Soon after, she “received notification that Mr.
Kirby was displeased with her email and that he requested a
follow-up with the Plaintiff regarding such.”
Id. ¶ 7.
next day, November 3, 2017, Bagwell “was terminated
from her position due to the ‘perceived negative'
email.” Id. ¶ 8. She later learned that a
“non-Black co-employee” had sent “similar
inappropriate emails” but was “disciplined with
only a write-up” and referred to the employee
assistance program. Id. ¶ 9.
filed a Charge of Discrimination (“Charge”) with
the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) on March
6, 2018. Id. ¶ 11. The EEOC issued a Notice of
Right to Sue (“Notice”) on March 15, 2018,
without a finding that Downtown violated federal law.
Id. ¶ 12. This suit followed on June 15, 2018,
within the 90 day filing period provided by 42 U.S.C. §
facts are included in the Discussion.
Standard of Review
defendant may test the legal sufficiency of a complaint by
way of a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6). In re
Birmingham, 846 F.3d 88, 92 (4th Cir. 2017); Goines
v. Valley Cmty. Servs. Bd., 822 F.3d 159, 165-66 (4th
Cir. 2016); McBurney v. Cuccinelli, 616 F.3d 393,
408 (4th Cir. 2010), aff'd sub nom.,
McBurney v. Young, 569 U.S. 221 (2013); Edwards
v. City of Goldsboro, 178 F.3d 231, 243 (4th Cir. 1999).
A Rule 12(b)(6) motion constitutes an assertion by a
defendant that, even if the facts alleged by a plaintiff are
true, the complaint fails as a matter of law “to state
a claim upon which relief can be granted.”
a complaint states a claim for relief is assessed by
reference to the pleading requirements of Fed.R.Civ.P.
8(a)(2). That rule provides that a complaint must contain a
“short and plain statement of the claim showing that
the pleader is entitled to relief.” The purpose of the
rule is to provide the defendants with “fair
notice” of the claims and the “grounds” for
entitlement to relief. Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly,
550 U.S. 544, 555-56 (2007).
survive a motion under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), a complaint
must contain facts sufficient to “state a claim to
relief that is plausible on its face.”
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570; see Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 684 (2009) (citation omitted)
(“Our decision in Twombly expounded the
pleading standard for ‘all civil actions' . . .
.”); see also Willner v. Dimon, 849 F.3d 93,
112 (4th Cir. 2017). But, a plaintiff need not include
“detailed factual allegations” in order to
satisfy Rule 8(a)(2). Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555.
Moreover, federal pleading rules “do not countenance
dismissal of a complaint for imperfect statement of the legal
theory supporting the claim asserted.” Johnson v.
City of Shelby, Miss., 574 U.S. __, 135 S.Ct. 346, 346
(2014) (per curiam).
the rule demands more than bald accusations or mere
speculation. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555; see
Painter's Mill Grille, LLC v. Brown, 716 F.3d 342,
350 (4th Cir. 2013). If a complaint provides no more than
“labels and conclusions” or “a formulaic
recitation of the elements of a cause of action, ” it
is insufficient. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. Rather,
to satisfy the minimal requirements of Rule 8(a)(2), the
complaint must set forth “enough factual matter (taken
as true) to suggest” a cognizable cause of action,
“even if . . . [the] ...