United States District Court, D. Maryland
DAVID COPPER WHITE, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Maryland Transit Administration, Kevin Quinn, Jr., Richard
Simmons, and Eric Bowser ("Defendants"), move this
Court for summary judgment (the "Motion") (ECF No.
41). Defendants seek a ruling from the Court that Plaintiff
Eric Whitaker cannot prevail on his retaliation claim against
Defendants because he cannot demonstrate the required
elements of the claim. ECF No. 41-1 at 1-2. Plaintiff filed
an opposition to Defendants' Motion (ECF No. 42) and
Defendants replied (ECF No. 44). After considering the Motion
and responses thereto, the Court finds that no hearing is
necessary. See Loc.R. 105.6 (D.Md. 2018). In
addition, having reviewed the pleadings of record and all
competent and admissible evidence submitted by the parties,
the Court finds that there is insufficient evidence from
which a jury could find in Plaintiffs favor on the
retaliation claim. Accordingly, the Court will GRANT
Defendants* Motion (ECF No. 41).
lawsuit arises out of Plaintiff s allegation of retaliation
against his current employer, Maryland Transit
Administration, in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights
Act of 1964. The facts are viewed in a light most favorable
to Plaintiff. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio
Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986) (citation omitted).
Maryland Transit Administration ("MTA") is a
state-operated agency responsible for administering mass
transit throughout Maryland. ECF No. 1-2 at 1. MTA is
headquartered in Baltimore. Maryland, and employs
approximately 3, 200 employees. Id. Defendant Kevin
B. Quinn. Jr. is the current MTA Administrator, the chief
executive of the agency. ECF No. 41-2, ¶ 3. At the time
of the alleged retaliation in October 2014, Defendant Richard
Simmons was the Superintendent of Bus Facilities Maintenance
for MTA, see ECF No. 1-14, and Defendant Eric Bowser
was the Superintendent of Metro Facilities Maintenance for
MTA, ECF No. 41-3, ¶¶ 2-3. Mr. Bowser is currently
the Manager of Metro Maintenance for MTA. ECF No. 41-3,
¶ 3. Messrs. Quinn, Simmons, and Bowser are parties only
in their official capacity with MTA. ECF No. 25, ¶¶
7-8; ECF No. 28 at 1.
an African-American, has been employed with MTA since 1989
and is a member of the Amalgamated Transit Union, Local 1300
(''Local 1300"), which represents certain
classes of MTA employees. ECF No. 1, ¶¶ 21-22.
Plaintiff's claim of retaliation stems from a decrease in
his hourly pay rate that occurred when he voluntarily
transferred from his position as an "A"
Repairman-Welder in the Bus Facilities Maintenance Office to
an "A" Repairman-Electro-Mechanic position with no
welding duties in the Metro Facilities Maintenance Office in
October 2014. ECF No. 43 at 13-17. However, before addressing
MTA's alleged retaliatory actions, a discussion of the
collective bargaining agreement governing Plaintiffs
"A" Repairman position is warranted.
Collective Bargaining Agreement & "A" Repairman
collective bargaining agreement ("CBA") executed
between Local 1300 and MTA governs certain terms of
employment for Local 1300 members, including classification
of employees and rate of pay. ECF No. 41-4 at 5-7, 8-11,
12-16. The CBA divides Local 1300 members into two
departments: Operating and Non-Operating. ECF No. 41-3,
¶ 4. The Non-Operating Department, which provides
facility and vehicle maintenance, is at issue in this case.
to the CBA, the Non-Operating Department is divided into
groups according to function. ECF No. 41-4 at 5-7. Pertinent
to this case is Group 6, the Facilities Maintenance Group.
Id. Group 6 is divided into two separate offices:
Bus Facilities Maintenance and Metro Facilities Maintenance.
ECF No. 41-3, ¶ 4. Both offices employ Local 1300
members that are classified as "A" Repairmen. ECF
No. 41-4 at 8-9. "A" Repairmen are a class of
employees created under the CBA that perform various and
unrelated functions, including bus and vehicle mechanics,
electricians, plumbers, and carpenters. ECF No. 41-2, ¶
5; ECF No. 41-3, ¶ 5. Employees within the "A"
Repairman classification also have a sub-classification, such
as "A" Repairman-Bus Mechanic, "A"
Repairman-Plumber, or "A" Repairman-Rail. ECF No.
41-2, ¶ 5. Each "A'" Repairman
sub-classification requires different minimum qualifications,
testing, and licensing. Id. However, under the CBA,
employees in the "A" Repairman classification
generally receive the same rate of pay. Id.
"A" Repairmen have different job qualifications and
licensing requirements, Local 1300 and MTA agreed in the CBA
to a concept referred to as "expert" pay, which
permits some "A" Repairmen to receive and retain a
higher pay rate after passing a test of expert skills
administered by the MTA or obtaining certification through
external testing in a particular field. Id. 1 6.
Local 1300 and MTA also agreed to another concept, referred
to as “skilled trades” pay, in which they created
special classifications of "A" Repairman that
received a higher pay rate based on sub-classification.
Id.¶ 7. These special classifications of
"A" Repairman included "A"
Repairman-Plumber, "A" Repairman-Electrician,
"A" Repairman-Heating, Ventilation, and Air
Conditioning, and ""A"" Repairman-Welder.
Id. The rationale for the "skilled trades"
pay concept was that each of these sub-classifications are a
skilled trade requiring either a journeyman's license or
certification from an accredited facility as a minimum job
these concepts became effective in May 2009. disputes arose
between Local 1300 and MTA regarding the higher pay rate
under the "skilled trades" pay concept. See
generally ECF No. 1-8. In November and December 2009,
sixteen "A" Repairmen filed grievances claiming
entitlement to “skilled trades” pay for welding.
Id. at 7-8. The resulting arbitration award, issued
on January 19, 2011, granted "skilled trades" pay
to certain "A"' Repairmen that had obtained
their welding certification from a particular facility before
the "skilled trades" pay concept became effective
in May 2009. Id. at 25-26, 28-29. However, the
arbitrator remanded the question of "skilled
trades" pay for other "A" Repairmen back to
the parties for further negotiation, id. at 29, and
the parties later reached an agreement in November 2011, ECF
No. 1-10. Notably, this dispute did not involve Plaintiff.
See ECF No. 1-10 at 4.
Alleged Retaliation by MTA
began his employment with MTA in 1989 as a Bus Mechanic. ECF
No. 1, ¶ 22. In September 2001, Plaintiff submitted a
bid for an open "A" Repairman-Electro-Mechanic
position in the Bus Facilities Maintenance Office and was
awarded the position. Id. ¶¶ 24, 26. This
position was part of Group 6 of the Non-Operating Department
pursuant to the CBA. ECF No. 41-4 at 5-6, 8-9. From September
2001 to October 2014, Plaintiff worked as an "A"
Repairman-Electro-Mechanic in the Bus Facilities Maintenance
Office. ECF No. 1, ¶¶ 24, 65.
Plaintiffs time in the Bus Facilities Maintenance Office, MTA
recommended welding training for "A" Repairmen.
Id. ¶ 38. Plaintiff requested to participate in
training but was allegedly denied. See Id. Thereafter,
Plaintiff filed a complaint with the Maryland Commission on
Civil Rights and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
in June 2012 alleging, inter alia, that MTA denied
him the opportunity to receive the welding training. Id.
¶ 48; ECF No. 41-5 at 9-10. On January 10.2013,
after a hearing, Plaintiff entered into a settlement
agreement with MTA in which MTA agreed that Plaintiff would
be eligible for the training and Plaintiff agreed not to
pursue the complaint further. ECF No. 1-6 at 2. During the
fall of 2013, Plaintiff completed the welding training and
received his certification on November 11, 2013. ECF No.
1-12. MTA then reclassified Plaintiffs position as an
"A" Repairman-Electro-Mechanic to "A"
Repairman-Welder and gave him the "skilled trades"
pay rate of $28.55 in November 2013. ECF No. 41-6.
fall of 2014, Mr. Bowser advertised a vacancy for an
"A" Repairman-Electro-Mechanic position in the
Metro Facilities Maintenance Office. ECF No. 41-3, ¶ 6.
Plaintiff indicated his interest in the position, ECF No.
41-7 at 1, and was then transferred into the position. ECF
No. 41-3, ¶ 6. Upon transfer, Mr. Simmons, Plaintiffs
supervisor in the Bus Facilities Maintenance Office,
completed an AS-1 form to document the transfer, but he
incorrectly identified Plaintiffs position with the Bus
Facilities Maintenance Office as "A"
Repairman-Electro-Mechanic, rather than "A"
Repairman-Welder. ECF No. 1-14. MTA's Department of
Employment Services corrected this error in a second AS-1
form in November 2014 to show that Plaintiff moved from an
"A" Repairman-Welder position to an "A"
Repairman-Electro-Mechanic position. ECF No. 1-16. Plaintiffs
voluntary transfer from the "A" Repairman-Welder
position to the "A" Repairman-Electro-Mechanic
position resulted in a pay decrease from the "skilled
trades" pay rate of $28.55 for welding to the ordinary
“A” Repairman rate of $27.63, as reflected in the
corrected AS-1 form. Id.
learning of the decrease in pay. Plaintiff filed a union
grievance in December 2014, arguing that his transfer was a
"lateral move within the same job classification and
group" and that he was, therefore, still entitled to the
increased pay rate of $28.55 awarded to "A"
Repairman-Welders. ECF No. 1-17 at 1. After a hearing on
January 26, 2015, the hearing officer issued a written
decision on February 5, 2015 finding that Plaintiff was still
entitled to the "skilled trades" pay after his
transfer and ordering MTA to reinstate that pay rate as well
as provide Plaintiff with backpay. ECF No. 1-18.
Additionally, the hearing officer noted that "MTA may
elect not to have certified welders in the Metro Facilities
Maintenance [Department" where there is no welding work,
at which time MTA could remove the ...