United States District Court, D. Maryland
KATRINA E. HOOD, Plaintiff,
MONTGOMERY COUNTY, MARYLAND, Defendant.
THEODORE D. CHUANG JUDGE.
Sergeant ("Sgt") Katrina Hood, a corrections
officer with the Montgomery County Department of Correction
and Rehabilitation ("DOCR") filed suit against
Defendant Montgomery County, Maryland ("the
County") alleging race discrimination and retaliation in
violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964
("Title VII"), 42 U.S.C. §§
2000e-2000e-17 (2012), and a violation of the Family and
Medical Leave Act ("FMLA"), 29 U.S.C. §§
2601-2644 (2012). After the County moved to dismiss Sgt.
Hood's claims, Sgt. Hood's race discrimination and
FMLA claims were dismissed with prejudice. See
Order, ECF No. 25. The parties proceeded to discovery on Sgt.
Hood's retaliation claim. The County now moves for
summary judgment on that remaining claim. Having reviewed the
briefs and submitted materials, the Court finds no hearing
necessary. See D. Md. Local R. 105.6. For the
reasons set forth below, the Countyss Motion for Summary
Judgment is GRANTED.
November 2015, Sgt. Hood sat for the DOCR promotional
examination. At the time of the exam, she was a corporal and
was seeking to qualify for promotion to sergeant. During the
exam, Sgt. Hood's computer malfunctioned and she was
unable to save a portion of the exam. In light of these
technical difficulties, Sgt. Hood was given four to five
additional minutes to complete the relevant exam portion and,
with the assistance of an Information Technology specialist,
was also able to save the exam. The relevant portion of Sgt.
Hood's exam was also printed out for her to sign. Based
on Sgt. Hood's score, she was not promoted to sergeant.
December 2015, Sgt. Hood sent an email to various DOCR
officials complaining about her computer malfunction and
stating that she "refuse(d] to believe the results"
of the promotion-exam process. Joint Record
("J.R.") 84, ECF No. 59. In that email, Sgt. Hood
did not make any allegations of impermissible discrimination
but instead confined her complaints to perceived issues with
the exam-scoring process.
to Sgt. Hood, in April 2016, she filed a complaint of race
discrimination with the Montgomery County Office of Human
Rights ("MOHR") based on the 2015 promotion exam.
Sgt. Hood asserts that she was given a Right-to-Sue Letter
that same month, after only a cursory investigation. No.
documents from that process were attached to Sgt. Hoodss
original or amended Complaint or included in the summary
judgment Joint Record.
2016, Sgt. Hood, through her Union, filed a grievance with
the Offices of the County Executive asserting that the
examination process, specifically the computer malfunction,
caused her undue hardship that placed her at an unfair
disadvantage, in violation of various terms of the collective
bargaining agreement. In October 2016, after a fact-finding
and appeal process, that grievance was denied.
September 2016, Sgt. Hood filed a second complaint with MOHR,
again asserting race discrimination and adding an allegation
of retaliation. She received a Right-to-Sue Letter on
September 29, 2016. In her Amended Complaint and again in her
affidavit submitted with her Memorandum in Opposition to the
Motion for Summary Judgment ("Opposition"), Sgt.
Hood identifies what she believes to be the actionable
retaliation as (1) the alteration of her time sheets; (2)
citations for tardiness when the time clock was known to have
malfunctioned; (3) being discouraged or hindered from taking
sick leave and FMLA leave; and (4) efforts by Warden Susan
Malagari to remove her from a prestigious Audit Team
the alteration of her time sheets, Sgt. Hood testified in her
deposition that at some unspecified time, she and another
corrections officer helped with a special program at the
prison at which she worked, and as a result Deputy Warden
Starkey instructed Lieutenant ("Lt") Beam to give
each of them an hour of overtime. Sgt. Hood asserts, however,
that her time sheet was later altered by either Lt. Carroll
or Lt. Beam to include eight hours of overtime. When Sgt.
Hood asked Lt. Beam about the change, he told her that he was
simply trying to "put more money in [her] pocket."
J.R. 18. Sgt. Hood believes that this alteration was intended
to cause her to approve a false time sheet.
issue of citations for tardiness, in December 2016, Sgt. Hood
received a Staff Improvement Form, known as a DCA 52, citing
her for five instances of unexcused tardiness. Sgt. Hood
challenged the DCA 52, asserting that many of her late
arrivals were approved FMLA leave. In response to Sgt. Hoodss
challenge, Warden Malagari reviewed the DCA 52 and determined
that three of the instances either were or were possibly
approved FMLA leave, and that one of them could not be
properly substantiated by DOCR, leaving Sgt. Hood with only
one instance of unexcused lateness. As a result, Warden
Malagari rescinded the DCA 52. In her deposition, Sgt. Hood
asserted that in 2018, she was again being improperly cited
for tardiness but that the situation was later resolved.
being removed from the Audit Team, in 2016, Sgt. Hood was
selected for the Audit Team, the group responsible for
preparing the prison for evaluation by the Maryland
Commission on Correctional Standards. At her deposition, Sgt.
Hood testified that when Warden Malagari learned that Sgt.
Hood had been selected for the Audit Team, she stated that
she wanted Sgt. Hood removed for unstated reasons.
Nevertheless, Sgt. Hood remained on the Audit Team, and in
September 2016, Warden Malagari gave her a Letter of
Recognition for her work in that capacity.
FMLA leave, Sgt. Hood asserted in her deposition that from
September 2017 to January 2018, Steve Frachette, the FMLA
Administrator, tried to justify not approving her FMLA
requests to arrive late and to get her FMLA accommodations
rescinded. Sgt. Hood has not demonstrated that these efforts
the allegations in Sgt. Hood's original and amended
Complaints are confined to the above four issues, in her
Opposition, Sgt. Hood presses a new theory of retaliation,
that the DOCRss handling of her 2017 workers'
compensation claims was retaliation for her 2016 complaints
about the promotion exam. As to this new theory of liability,
in her deposition, Sgt. Hood testified that in March and
April 2017, she filed workers' compensation claims and
that, at some point during the workers' compensation
process, she was told by Lt. Robinson and Lt. Chisley that
someone at DOCR was trying to sabotage her April claim. Sgt.
Hood does not identify the DOCR employee or employees who
allegedly attempted that sabotage, nor is there any other
evidence in the record on this point. Sgt. Hood ultimately
reached a settlement of the April 2017 workers'
compensation claim. According to Sgt. Hood, during an
investigation of the allegations of sabotage, she was
pressured to reveal Lt. Chisleyss identity but did not do so
because she feared that he would be subjected to retaliation.
Sgt. Hood was not disciplined for that refusal.
2017, Sgt. Hood again sat for the promotion exam. On that
occasion, she qualified for promotion and received ...