United States District Court, D. Maryland
L. RUSSELL, III UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
MATTER is before the Court on Plaintiff Eyad Asi's Motion
for Leave to File First Amended Complaint (ECF No. 18). The
Motion is ripe for disposition, and no hearing is necessary.
See Local Rule 105.6 (D.Md. 2018). For the reasons
set out below, the Court will grant the Motion in part and
deny it in part.
a Muslim United States citizen from Kuwait who identifies his
race as Arab and Palestinian. (1st Am. Compl. ¶ 5, ECF
No. 18-1). On May 1, 2017, Asi began working for Defendant
Information Management Group, Inc. (“IMG”).
(Id. ¶ 7). At the time, IMG, which is
headquartered in Fairfax, Virginia, was a subcontractor to
Absolute Business Solutions Corporation (“ABS”)
and provided employees such as Asi for a U.S. Department of
the Army (the “Army”) security screening services
contract (the “Project”). (Id. ¶
6). On or about May 15, 2017, IMG assigned Asi to work at
Fort Meade in Maryland as an Open Source Analyst, a
Counter-Intelligence Analyst from the Army's perspective.
(Id. ¶¶ 4-5, 8).
not provide Asi with access to the part of the government
database he needed to do his job, which meant he had to rely
on coworkers or his reviewers to obtain information for his
reports. (Id. ¶ 9). Yet Asi wrote at least as
many reports, and as well, as his colleagues and rarely
received correction requests beyond formatting issues after
he submitted them. (Id. ¶ 14). In helping other
Counter-Intelligence Analysts on the Project who were in
training, Asi noticed that they commonly received requests
for substantive corrections. (Id.). Still, in June
2017, the Army supervisor of the Project, Chief Warrant
Officer Christopher P. Harrod, who had not seen any of
Asi's reports, asked Shafiq Khan, an ABS
Counter-Intelligence Analyst who tracked other employees'
time, to remove Asi from the Project. (Id.
¶¶ 11-13). Khan relayed this information to Asi but
did not remove him. (Id. ¶ 13). Asi is not
aware of any similar effort by Harrod to remove white,
American-born, or non-Muslim analysts. (Id. ¶
learned of Harrod's attempt to remove him, Asi complained
orally to IMG Operations Manager Steven Walter and two ABS
managers about discrimination on the basis of his race and
“where I came from”. (Id. ¶¶
17-18). Walter dismissed Asi's concerns, saying Asi
“would be okay as long as Chief Harrod's statements
did not affect [Asi's] security clearance, ” and
IMG took no action regarding the alleged discrimination or to
prevent retaliation against Asi for making the discrimination
complaint. (Id. ¶¶ 19- 20, 26).
Thereafter, Asi became more introverted at work, simply tried
to do his job and avoid getting fired, and felt anxious and
humiliated. (Id. ¶ 20). Sometime thereafter,
Anthony Stafford, Harrod's successor, told Asi's
immediate supervisor that he had lost confidence in Asi's
performance. (Id. ¶ 21).
March 5, 2018, Asi submitted a written complaint to an IMG
Human Relations Generalist Caitlin Covington, alleging that
he had endured “unprofessionalism, contempt, and
harassment because of my race and ethnicity.”
(Id. ¶ 27). He suggested people were trying to
get him fired and that he would protect himself through Title
VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. (Id.
¶¶ 27-28). Asi noted in his written complaint that
Daniel Clark of ABS removed critical information from
Asi's reports over Asi's objections. (Id.
¶ 29). Asi also complained about receiving a $50.00
Amazon gift card when other employees received a $100.00
American Express gift card. (Id. ¶ 38).
March 6, 2018, Walter met with Asi about his complaint.
(Id. ¶ 32). In addition to asking Asi
questions, Walter noted that Asi was not issuing two reports
per day, the first time IMG had cited any problem with
Asi's production. (Id. ¶¶ 34-35). IMG
had set production standards for the entire workforce but had
never offered any individual appraisal to Asi until after his
complaint. (Id. ¶ 35). Walter also stated that
the employees who received the $100.00 American Express gift
cards had been more productive than Asi. (Id. ¶
39). When Asi noted the more productive employees were more
experienced than him, Walter started “angrily
screaming” at him, and Asi left the meeting.
(Id. ¶ 41).
March 12, 2018 through March 14, 2018, IMG monitored
Asi's productivity, which it had not done prior to his
complaint. (Id. ¶¶ 42-44). On March 14,
2018, IMG fired Asi. (Id. ¶ 46). In opposing
Asi's application for unemployment, Covington told the
Maryland Department of Labor and Regulation's Division of
Unemployment Insurance that IMG fired Asi at a client's
request because he had only produced three reports from March
12, 2018 to March 14, 2018 when he was required to produce
two reports per day. (Id. ¶¶ 48-49). On
June 1, 2018, an IMG Program Support Manager wrote Asi to
tell him about work opportunities with IMG, but when he
expressed interest, IMG did not reply. (Id.
¶¶ 61, 64).
September 24, 2018, Asi filed a charge of discrimination
against IMG and ABS with the U.S. Equal Employment
Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) and the Maryland
Commission on Civil Rights, alleging discrimination and
harassment based on his race, national origin, and religion,
and subsequent retaliation for complaining about the
discrimination. On October 11, 2018, Asi sued IMG, ABS,
and ABS employees Sam Caltagerone and Matthew Rice. (ECF No.
1). He alleges: discrimination, harassment, and hostile work
environment on the basis of Asi's Arab and Palestinian
race in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1981 (Count I);
retaliation by terminating his employment and opposing his
application for unemployment in violation of § 1981
(Count II); discrimination on the basis of Asi's Arab,
Palestinian, and Kuwaiti race or national origin, and Muslim
religion in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of
1964, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e (Count III); and
retaliation in violation of Title VII (Count
(Compl. ¶¶ 108-115; Am. Compl. ¶¶ 68-75).
January 11, 2019, Asi, ABS, Caltagerone, and Rice filed a
Joint Motion to Dismiss, stating they had settled the
ABS-related part of the case. (Jt. Mot. Dismiss at 1, ECF No.
12). On January 15, 2019, the Court granted the Joint Motion,
(ECF No. 12), leaving IMG as the only remaining Defendant.
January 28, 2019, Asi filed his Motion for Leave to File
First Amended Complaint. (ECF No. 18). On February 11, 2019,
IMG filed its Opposition. (ECF No. 20). On February 25, 2019,
Asi filed his Reply. (ECF No. 21).
Standard of Review
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15(a), “[t]he court
should freely give leave [to amend a complaint] when justice
so requires.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(2). Although the
federal rules favor granting leave to amend, the decision
lies within the sound discretion of the district court.
Medigen of Ky., Inc. v. Pub. Serv. Comm'n of
W.Va., 985 F.2d 164, 167-68 (4th Cir. 1993) (citing
Nat'l Bank v. Pearson, 863 F.2d 322, 327 (4th
Cir. 1988)). The Fourth Circuit has stated that leave to
amend under Rule 15(a) should be denied in three situations:
(1) when the moving party has exhibited bad faith; (2) when
the opposing party would be prejudiced; or (3) when the
proposed amendment would be futile. Laber v. Harvey,
438 F.3d 404, 426 (4th Cir. 2006).
opposes Asi's Motion on all three grounds cited in
Laber. The Court will consider each in turn.
argues that Asi's First Amended Complaint
“appears” to be in bad faith because the
Complaint alleges ABS controlled Asi's database access
whereas the First Amended Complaint alleges IMG failed to
provide database access. Asi counters that the