United States District Court, D. Maryland
David Copperthite, Judge
Charles Watson, moves this Court to dismiss the Complaint of
pro se Plaintiff, Lilly Dorsey, for sexual
harassment and retaliation brought pursuant to Title
VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (the "Motion to
Dismiss") (ECF No. 18). After considering the Motion to
Dismiss and the response thereto (ECF No. 20), the Court
finds that no hearing is necessary. See Loc.R. 105.6
(D.Md. 2018). For the reasons stated herein, the Court GRANTS
Defendant's Motion to Dismiss. The Court also GRANTS
Plaintiff leave to amend the Complaint.
reviewing a motion to dismiss, this Court accepts as true the
facts alleged in the challenged complaint. See Aziz v.
Alcolac, Inc., 658 F.3d 388, 390 (4th Cir. 2011).
Plaintiff was employed as an addiction counselor trainee at
Riverside Treatment Services, LLC ("Riverside")
from May 2017 until her termination on September 5, 2017. ECF
No. 1-5 at 13; ECF No. 1-10 at 2-3; ECF No. 20-1 at 1. On or
about June 21, 2017, Plaintiff alleges that she attended an
off-site celebratory work event where Defendant, her
co-worker, said "Let me feel your - (butt)" and
then "squeezed [her] butt cheeks." ECF No. 1 at 6;
ECF No. 1-10 at 2. Plaintiffs attempts to address the
incident with Defendant on several occasions and with Michael
Oliver, the owner of Riverside, were unsuccessful. ECF No.
1-3 at 1-2.
the course of the next few months, the work environment
became "hostile" and Plaintiff found it
"unbearable" to perform her job because Defendant
"interfered with [her] caseload" and clients.
Id. at 2-4. Between August 27, 2017 and September 3,
2017, Plaintiff took a pre-approved, paid vacation and was
scheduled to return to work on September 5, 2017. ECF No. 1-5
at 13-14; ECF No. 1-10 at 2. Upon her return from vacation,
Plaintiff learned of two deaths in her family. ECF No. 1-3 at
4. She contacted Mr. Oliver to request an additional week off
and he approved the request. Id. However, on
September 5, 2017, Defendant called Plaintiff and informed
her that she was being terminated. Id. at 5.
Defendant allegedly offered to pay Plaintiff for her two
weeks of vacation as well as two months of severance pay if
she signed a separation agreement, but Plaintiff refused to
sign the agreement. Id; ECF No. 1-6 at 2-6.
her termination, Plaintiff applied for unemployment benefits
with the State of Maryland. ECF No. 1-5 at 13-17. The
Division of Unemployment Insurance investigated the claim and
recorded Riverside's stated reason for termination as
being due to Plaintiff taking an additional week off after
her vacation. Id. at 14. On October 17, 2017, the
Division issued a Notice of Benefit Determination, which
[Plaintiff] was discharged or suspended as a disciplinary
measure by the employer, Riverside Treatment Services[, ]
¶ 09/05/2017 because of excessive absenteeism.
Information has been presented, however, showing that
[Plaintiff]'s absences were of a compelling and
necessitous nature. As a result, the circumstances
surrounding the separation do not warrant a disqualification
under Section 8-1002 or 8-1003 of the Maryland Unemployment
Benefits are allowed, if otherwise eligible.
Id. at 17. Riverside appealed this determination and
documents indicate that the appeal hearing was scheduled for
January 29, 2018; however, the outcome of the appeal is not
clear from the record. See ECF No. 1-11 at 13.
Background On September 28, 2017, after her termination,
Plaintiff filed a Charge of Discrimination against Riverside
with the Maryland Commission on Civil Rights and the Equal
Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"),
alleging sex discrimination and retaliation dating from June
22, 2017 through September 5, 2017. ECF No. 1-10 at 2-3. In
the charge, Plaintiff alleged that Defendant "whispered
in [her] ear[, ] 'I'm going to squeeze your butt[,
]' and proceeded to touch [her] butt" at a one-year
anniversary work event on June 22, 2017. Id. at 2.
Plaintiff stated that she subsequently filed complaints with
the National Association of Social Workers and the Board of
Professional Counselors for sexual harassment and unethical
practices in late August 2017 and, shortly thereafter, she
was terminated on September 5, 2017 by Defendant, who
explained that Plaintiff "seemed to have a lot on [her]
plate and [she] was not a good fit." Id. at
2-3. On February 1, 2019, the EEOC issued a Dismissal and
Notice of Rights to Plaintiff, informing her that there was
no evidence of unlawful conduct. ECF No. 1-4.
April 30, 2019, after exhausting her administrative remedies,
see id., Plaintiff filed suit in this Court against
Defendant, alleging that she suffered sexual harassment and
retaliation. ECF No. lat5-6. On June 24, 2019, Defendant filed
the Motion to Dismiss. ECF No. 18. Plaintiff filed an
opposition on July 8, 2019. ECF No. 20. Defendant did not
file a reply and the time to do so has since passed.
matter is now fully briefed, and the Court has reviewed
Defendant's Motion to Dismiss, as well as the response
thereto. For the following reasons, Defendant's Motion to
Dismiss (ECF No. 18) will be GRANTED. Additionally, Plaintiff
will be GRANTED leave to amend the Complaint.
Standard of Review for Motion to Dismiss for ...