United States District Court, D. Maryland, Southern Division
DEMETRA D. RANDOLPH, Plaintiff,
SENTRY MANAGEMENT, INC., Defendant.
J. HAZEL UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
action, Plaintiff Demetra Randolph claims that her employer,
Defendant Sentry Management, Inc., retaliated against her in
violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42
U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. after she reported
complaints of race and age discrimination. Pending before the
Court is Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment. ECF No.
19. No. hearing is necessary. See Loc. R. 105.6
(Md.). For the following reasons, Defendants' Motion for
Summary Judgment will be denied.
Management is a corporation that manages homeowners and
condominium associations. ECF No. 19-3 at 2. Randolph began
her career with Sentry as a Community Association Manager in
October 2012. ECF No. 2 ¶ 9; ECF No. 8 ¶ 9. Sentry
promoted Randolph in June 2013 to the position of Assistant
Division Manager of its Crofton, Maryland office.
Id. ¶¶ 10-11. The promotion was based, in
part, on the fact that people in the office respected
Randolph and “frequently” went “to her to
get her advice.” ECF No. 21-3 at 2. Additionally,
Randolph's supervisor noticed that she had a good
attitude and wanted to learn as much as she could.
Id. In a press release announcing Plaintiff's
promotion, her supervisor described her as having a
“calm professional style.” ECF No. 21-4 at 2.
Plaintiff's promotion came with a pay raise. ECF No. 21-5
at 2. Randolph continued to perform well and receive praise
in her new role, on February 6, 2014, she received ratings of
“Excellent, ” “Very good, ” and
“Good” on her performance review. ECF No. 21-6 at
2. As a result, she received another merit increase in her
pay on February 9, 2014. ECF No. 21-7 at 2. Sentry again
increased Randolph's pay in October 2014, ECF No. 21-8 at
2, and again received only “Excellent, ”
“Very good, ” and “Good” ratings on
her November 2014 performance review, ECF No. 21-7 at 2.
2014, John Sheehy was hired to replace Randolph's former
supervisor. ECF No. 2 ¶ 18; ECF No. 8 ¶ 18. After
the change in supervision, Randolph received two additional
pay increases in January and July 2015. ECF Nos. 21-10,
Randolph's success at work up to this point, the office
was always tense and filled with drama. ECF No.21-12 at 3.
Further, throughout her tenure, at least three employees
complained to Randolph that they feared Sentry wanted to get
rid of older workers. Id. at 6, 8. Then, around
August 2015, Randolph began receiving complaints from
colleagues that Sheehy was engaging in race discrimination.
ECF No. 21-12 at 6, 8. According to Randolph, these
colleagues came to her because they felt that she was
“the only one” who would “stand up
for” them, “talk for” them, and “try
to help” them.” Id. at 6. Although
Randolph had not heard Sheehy make racist comments, she
believed he was making such harmful comments based on what
employees told her. Id. at 6, 13. One employee told
Randolph that Sheehy commented “that all black women
[are] prostitutes.” Id. at 13.
to Sentry's personnel policies, the company
“strongly urges the reporting of all incidents of
discrimination, harassment or retaliation, regardless of the
identity or position of the person who is engaged in the
alleged conduct.” ECF No. 21-13 at 4. Sentry's
policies encourage employees to report concerns about
“discrimination, harassment or retaliation” to
“their immediate supervisor or any supervisor or
manager of the Company or with the Company's Human
Resources Manager and/or the Human Resources
September 18, 2015, Dianne Voght, Sentry's Human
Resources Manager, learned that two employees felt the office
had become a toxic environment. ECF No. 19-11 at 2; ECF No.
19-4 at 1. Based on her conversations with these employees,
Voght emailed the company's leadership including Howard
Pomp and James Hart, advising that employees were concerned
about a potential “mutiny in the MD office.” ECF
No. 19-4 at 1. She relayed that “[Sheehy] hasn't
done anything” and that employees believe that
“[Randolph] is stirring the pot because she wants
[Sheehy's] job.” Id. The email continued:
“[Randolph] is meeting with all the employees
individually and telling them that there will be a meeting
(intervention) next week with [Sheehy] and she has a list of
questions and he will answer truthfully and not lie and that
there will be no retaliation.” Id. Voght
closed with: “Why can't they just do their jobs
without all the drama and back stabbing?”
that day, Randolph emailed Voght and Sentry's President
James Hart, identifying the issues that had been reported to
her. ECF No. 19-6. She wrote that she had so far had a good
relationship with Sheehy and feared that her relationship
with him, Voght, and Hart would change after she reported
what she knew about purported “racial comments, ”
“harassment and age discrimination” in the
office. Id. In addition to the allegations of
inappropriate racial comments and age discrimination,
Randolph mentioned high rates of employee turnover, lost
contracts, confusion regarding job responsibilities, and an
overall tense office environment. Id. She expressed
fear of retaliation again at the close of her email:
“Again, I do not want to write this email. I fear
retaliation for my actions of bringing this to your
attention.” Id. She also wrote, “I
don't want [Sheehy] to know I wrote this email because it
will wreck our working relationship and I feel that if it is
made known, I will all of a sudden be given oral and written
warning write ups and be terminated.” Id.
leadership met with Voght to discuss the situation and
decided that Pomp should visit the Maryland office to assess
its condition. ECF No. 19-3 at 7. Pomp visited the Maryland
office about a week later to meet with Sheehy, Randolph, and
other individual employees. ECF No. 19-3 at 6. During his
meeting with Sheehy, Pomp discussed the employees'
concerns as well as leadership's frustration that the
Maryland office had lost 20 accounts over the previous year.
Id. at 6-7.
his meetings with Sentry employees, several individuals
mentioned that Sheehy could “speak abusively” and
that he told one employee that she was dressed like a
prostitute. Id. at 10-11. Based on what he learned
from employees, Pomp personally concluded that while Sheehy
made “unfortunate” comments, he was “not a
racist.” Id. at 12. Pomp and Human Resources
then determined that employees were distrustful of their
supervisors; while some were distrustful of Sheehy, others
were distrustful of Randolph. ECF No. 19-10 at 7. Sentry
leadership felt that the management team in the Maryland
office were taking steps to undermine one another.
Randolph's request that Sheehy not be made aware that she
reported complaints, Pomp also met with Sheehy and Randolph
together to discuss what Pomp perceived as their collective
missteps. ECF No. 19-3 at 12. In front of Sheehy, Pomp
expressed to Randolph “that the conversations she had
independently with employees [were] undermining [Sheehy] and
Sentry Management.” Id. He continued, “I
told [Randolph] that she wasn't to have any more
conversations independently with employees [about
Sheehy]” and that “if employees come in and they
want to have conversations about [Sheehy], she needs to go
and either take those concerns to HR or tell those employees
to take those concerns to HR, or invite the employees to have
[Sheehy] join them.” Id. He told her that if
she did not take this “corrective action” she
would be fired. Id.
following month, on October 1, 2015, Plaintiff received
ratings of “Very Good” and “Good” on
her performance evaluation. ECF No. 21-15 at 2. She received
“Very good” ratings for her
“cooperation/interaction with other employees”
and her “cooperation with Supervisor.”
Id. Nevertheless, Sentry terminated Randolph on
November 3, 2015. ECF No. 8 ¶ 31.
states that Sentry ultimately decided to fire Randolph after
he spoke to four employees in mid-October who were
“highly concerned and said that the issues continued
and that [Randolph] continued to speak individually with
employees, and [Sheehy] continued to have a temper, that they
had concerns about ...