United States District Court, D. Maryland
CRYSTAL BRANNAM, et al.
FIDELITY DIRECT MORTGAGE, LLC
DEBORAH K. CHASANOW UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Crystal Brannam and Giuliana Giblin (collectively,
“Plaintiffs”) filed a motion to redact in this
employment discrimination action on October 29, 2018. (ECF
No. 3). Defendant Fidelity Direct Mortgage, LLC
(“FDM”) filed a motion to dismiss pursuant to
Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) on December 27, 2018. (ECF No. 5). The
issues have been fully briefed and the court now rules, no
hearing being deemed necessary. Local Rule 105.6. For the
following reasons, Plaintiffs' motion to redact will be
granted in part and denied in part and Defendant's motion
to dismiss will be denied.
Brannam commenced her employment with FDM as a junior loan
officer in June 2016. (ECF No. 1 ¶ 10). Plaintiffs'
complaint alleges that FDM supervisor Enzo Monte (“Mr.
Monte”) and other FDM employees often subjected
Plaintiff Brannam to sexual harassment. Some of the specific
instances of sexual harassment Plaintiff Brannam alleges
include: (1) Mr. Monte directed Plaintiff Brannam to wear
high heels with dresses or skirts (Id. ¶¶
11; 24); (2) Mr. Monte told Plaintiff Brannam to “play
nice” with male clients and respond to their
flirtations (Id. ¶¶ 11-12); (3) male FDM
employees often made remarks, sometimes vulgar, about
Plaintiff Brannam's appearance (Id. ¶¶
15-16); (4) Plaintiff Brannam was tasked with work unrelated
to her expected loan officer duties (Id.
¶¶ 13; 16-18); (5) Mr. Monte required Plaintiff
Brannam to wear tight, revealing clothing for events
unrelated to her work for FDM (Id. ¶ 18); (6)
Mr. Monte prohibited Plaintiff Brannam from going to lunch
with any other male unless she first sought his consent
(Id. ¶ 14); and (7) Plaintiff Brannam was
prohibited from attending conference calls and classes after
she turned down an offer to go out to dinner with a member of
FDM management (Id. ¶ 19). Finally, Plaintiff
Brannam alleges that she was constructively discharged by
Defendant on March 1, 2017. (Id. ¶ 21).
complaint also alleges that Mr. Monte sexually discriminated
against Plaintiff Giblin during her employment with FDM.
Specifically, Plaintiff Giblin alleges that Mr. Monte: (1)
instructed her to hug and kiss potential clients or realtors;
(2) regularly touched Plaintiff Giblin “inappropriately
. . . and unwantedly, ” in areas such as her
“hair, waist, breast, butt, shoulders,  thighs[,
]” neck and throat; (3) instructed Plaintiff Giblin to
wear “heels” and “tight-fitting”
dresses with a “low-cut at the bust line[;]” (4)
repeatedly asked Plaintiff Giblin for oral sex; (5) requested
sexual favors in exchange for advancement of Plaintiff
Giblin's career; (6) invited Plaintiff Giblin to join a
“sexual ‘threesome[;]'” (7) solicited
nude pictures of Plaintiff Giblin via text message; and (8)
offered to buy Plaintiff Giblin a car or pay for her
residence if she was a “good girl.” (Id.
¶¶ 23-25). Plaintiff Giblin also alleges that she
was involved in a physical altercation with Mr. Monte after
refusing his request to entertain current and potential
clients at a strip club. Mr. Monte grabbed Plaintiff Giblin
by the throat, stated “she was his, ” and
referenced the fact that he served five years in prison for
attempted murder. (Id. ¶¶ 26-27).
Following the altercation, Plaintiff Giblin was
“constructively discharged” from FDM.
(Id. ¶ 28).
complaint states that male loan officers were not subject to
the same incidents of mistreatment. (Id.
¶¶ 13-14; 16-18; 23-24; 26).
individually filed discrimination charges under Title VII of
the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C.A. §2000e, et
seq., (“Title VII”) with the United States
Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”)
on April 26, 2017. (ECF Nos. 5- 5; 5-7). The EEOC issued
right-to-sue letters to each Plaintiff on July 31, 2018,
indicating the EEOC's termination of Plaintiffs'
charges and providing them with 90 days to file a lawsuit.
(ECF Nos. 1-1; 1-2). Plaintiffs jointly filed a complaint
against Defendant on October 26, 2018. (ECF No. 1).
Plaintiffs jointly allege four counts: (1) sexual harassment
in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and
the Civil Rights Act of 1991; (2) constructive discharge; (3)
violation of the Maryland Wage Payment and Collection Law,
MD. Code Ann. § 3-501; and (4) theft. (Id., at
10-13 & 16-17). Plaintiff Brannam individually alleges
two counts: (1) breach of contract; and (2) negligent
misrepresentation. (Id., at 13-14). Plaintiff Giblin
individually alleges one count of battery. (Id., at
Plaintiffs' Motion to Redact
Plaintiffs, who are represented by counsel, filed their
complaint without listing their addresses in the
caption.Plaintiffs' motion to redact asserts
that “[t]he threat posed by Mr. Monte . . . establishes
good cause” under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
5.2(e) to redact their home addresses from the complaint.
(ECF No. 3, at 3). Defendant does not oppose Plaintiffs'
request. In support of Plaintiffs' request to conceal
their addresses, they reference alleged incidents where Mr.
Monte's conduct made them feel unsafe. (ECF No. 3 ¶
2). Plaintiffs have demonstrated a fear for their safety that
is supported by specific factual representations, Defendants
have not opposed Plaintiffs' request and disclosure of
Plaintiffs' addresses is not essential to their
claim's progression. (Id. ¶¶ 2-4).
Thus, Plaintiffs will not be required to amend their
complaint to include their addresses.
also request that the motion to redact remain under seal.
(Id.). Defendant does not oppose Plaintiffs'
request. A motion to seal must comply with Local Rule 105.11,
which requires: “(a) proposed reasons supported by
specific factual representations to justify the sealing and
(b) an explanation why alternatives to sealing would not
provide sufficient protection.” This rule endeavors to
protect the common law right to inspect and copy judicial
records and documents, Nixon v. Warner Commc'ns,
Inc., 435 U.S. 589, 597 (1978), while recognizing that
competing interests sometimes outweigh the public's right
of access, In re Knight Publ'g Co., 743 F.2d
231, 235 (4th Cir. 1984). Plaintiffs merely state
that the motion “is filed under seal, and should remain
under seal, as it addresses sensitive matters.” (ECF
No. 3, at 3). The incidents described in the motion to redact
that caused Plaintiffs to fear for their safety are largely a
recitation of information already provided in Plaintiffs'
complaint. Plaintiffs have not justified their request to
seal the motion to redact. Thus, the motion will be denied as
to Plaintiffs' request to seal the motion to redact.
Defendant's Motion to Dismiss
Standard of Review
purpose of a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) is to test
the sufficiency of the complaint. Presley v. City of
Charlottesville, 464 F.3d 480, 483 (4th Cir.
2006). A complaint need only satisfy the standard of Rule
8(a), which requires a “short and plain statement of
the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to
relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). But the Court in
Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly clarified the
requirement, concluding that “Rule 8(a)(2) still
requires a ‘showing,' rather than a blanket
assertion, of entitlement to relief.” 550 U.S. 544, 555
n.3 (2007). Therefore, if the “well-pleaded facts do
not permit the court to infer more than the mere possibility
of misconduct, ” the complaint has not shown that
“the pleader is entitled to relief.” Ashcroft
v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 679 (2009).
stage, all well-pleaded allegations in a complaint must be
considered as true, Albright v. Oliver, 510 U.S.
266, 268, (1994), and all factual allegations must be
construed in the light most favorable to the plaintiff,
see Harrison v. Westinghouse Savannah River Co., 176
F.3d 776, 783 (4th Cir. 1999) (citing Mylan
Labs., Inc. v. Matkari, 7 F.3d 1130, 1134
(4th Cir. 1993)). In evaluating the complaint,
unsupported legal allegations need not be accepted.
Revene v. Charles Cty. Comm'rs, 882 F.2d 870,
873 (4th Cir. 1989). Legal conclusions couched as
factual allegations are insufficient, Iqbal, 556
U.S. at 678, as are conclusory factual allegations devoid ...