United States District Court, D. Maryland
STEPHANIE A. GALLAGHER, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
David Batkins (“Batkins”) filed suit against his
former employer, Defendant CSX Transportation, Inc.
(“CSX”), asserting a total of six claims arising
under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act
(“ADEA”), 29 U.S.C. 623 et seq., and the
Maryland Fair Employment Practices Act (“FEPA”),
Md. Code Ann. § 20-606. ECF 1. CSX has filed a Motion to
Dismiss Counts II, IV, V, and VI of Plaintiff's
Complaint, ECF 16, along with a supporting memorandum of law
(collectively “Motion”). ECF 16-1. Batkins has filed
an opposition (“Opposition”), ECF 17, and CSX has
filed a reply (“Reply”), ECF 18. I have
considered all of the filings, and find that no hearing is
necessary. See Local Rule 105.6 (D. Md. 2018). For
the reasons set forth below, CSX's motion will be
hired Batkins as a Special Agent in 2008, when he was
approximately 48 years old. ECF 1 ¶¶ 8, 9. CSX
negotiated to pay Batkins a starting salary of $57, 500,
although it had paid younger Special Agents a starting salary
of $60, 000. ECF 1 ¶¶ 10, 11. On March 24, 2011,
CSX promoted Batkins to the position of Special Agent in
Charge, and increased his salary to $80, 000. ECF 1 ¶
August 31, 2012, Deputy Chief Robert Flake circulated an
email to CSX's hiring managers, which stated “[I]t
has always been our goal to hire the best candidate taking
into account all factors. We (the department) found during
the CALEA demographic study that recent new hires are of an
older age and thus the employment expectation cycle is
shorter vs. the more preferred longer cycle; case in point
our most recent 2 Northern Region new hires.” ECF 1
¶ 15. In June, 2013, CSX partnered with Johns Hopkins
University to create a training program entitled “Johns
Hopkins School of Railroad Police Leadership.” ECF 1
¶ 18. CSX invited certain employees to attend the
training and to receive immediate promotions upon completion.
ECF 1 ¶ 19. Batkins was not invited to attend the
training, and believes the opportunity was offered to young
Special Agents in Charge. ECF 1 ¶¶ 20, 21.
meeting in early 2014, CSX Vice President Skip Elliot made a
comment suggesting that he should not hire “old guys,
” because they do not want to perform certain tasks.
ECF 1 ¶¶ 23-24. In February, 2015, Batkins received
a performance rating of “below expectations, ”
based on allegations “that [he] delegated too many
responsibilities.” ECF 1 ¶ 25. Following a
grievance, Batkins's rating was vacated and replaced with
“meets expectations.” ECF 1 ¶ 26-27.
March, 2015, CSX Police Chief Jacqueline Litzinger audited
Batkins's station and gave it a passing rating.
Id. ¶ 28. That same day, Deputy Chief Powers
advised Batkins that he would be placed on administrative
leave, and could not serve as a Special Agent in Charge until
he received a Maryland railroad police commission.
Id. ¶¶ 29-30. At the time of his
promotion in 2011, Chief Litzinger knew that Batkins had been
credentialed only in Virginia. Id. ¶ 32.
contacted the Maryland State Police to inquire about
obtaining a commission, but Chief Litzinger advised him that
his contact with the Maryland State Police violated CSX's
protocol. Id. ¶ 35. Batkins next requested to
attend commission training at the Prince George Academy, but
his request was denied. Id. ¶¶ 36-37.
Instead, Batkins attended a more physically demanding
training at the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit
Authority School. Id. ¶ 37. Batkins believes
that younger Special Agents were allowed to attend commission
training programs of their choosing. Id. ¶ 38.
Batkins's training was ongoing, CSX placed him on a
three-month Performance Improvement Plan (“PIP”),
which required him to ride full ten-hour shifts with each
officer under his command. Id. ¶¶ 40-41.
Subsequently, Chief Litzinger advised Batkins that being
present for the majority of a shift would suffice.
Id. ¶ 43. However, on November 10, 2015, CSX
fired Batkins, citing his “resistance” to
complying with the PIP, because he had failed to complete
ten-hour shifts with each officer. Id. ¶ 45.
motion, CSX seeks dismissal of Count II of Batkins's
Complaint, which alleges “Pay Discrimination in
Violation of the ADEA.” ECF 1 at 7. Under Rule
12(b)(6), a defendant may test the legal sufficiency of a
complaint by way of a motion to dismiss. See In re
Birmingham, 846 F.3d 88, 92 (4th Cir. 2017); Goines
v. Valley Cmty. Servs. Bd., 822 F.3d
159, 165-66 (4th Cir. 2016); McBurney v. Cuccinelli,
616 F.3d 393, 408 (4th Cir. 2010) (Agee, J., concurring),
aff'd sub nom., McBurney v. Young, 569
U.S. 221 (2013); Edwards v. City of Goldsboro, 178
F.3d 231, 243 (4th Cir. 1999). A Rule 12(b)(6) motion
constitutes an assertion by a defendant that, even if the
facts alleged by a plaintiff are true, the complaint fails as
a matter of law “to state a claim upon which relief can
a complaint states a claim for relief is assessed by
reference to the pleading requirements of Fed.R.Civ.P.
8(a)(2). That rule provides that a complaint must contain a
“short and plain statement of the claim showing that
the pleader is entitled to relief.” The purpose of the
rule is to provide the defendants with “fair
notice” of the claims and the “grounds” for
entitlement to relief. Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly,
550 U.S. 544, 555-56 (2007).
survive a motion under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), a complaint
must contain facts sufficient to “state a claim to
relief that is plausible on its face.”
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570; see Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 684 (2009) (citation omitted)
(“Our decision in Twombly expounded the
pleading standard for ‘all civil actions' . . .
.”); see also Willner v. Dimon, 849 F.3d 93,
112 (4th Cir. 2017). However, a plaintiff need not include
“detailed factual allegations” in order to
satisfy Rule 8(a)(2). Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555.
Further, federal pleading rules “do not countenance
dismissal of a complaint for imperfect statement of the legal
theory supporting the claim asserted.” Johnson v.
City of Shelby, Miss., 574 U.S. 10, 135 S.Ct. 346, 346
(2014) (per curiam).
the rule demands more than bald accusations or mere
speculation. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555; see
Painter's Mill Grille, LLC v. Brown, 716 F.3d 342,
350 (4th Cir. 2013). If a complaint provides no more than
“labels and conclusions” or “a formulaic
recitation of the elements of a cause of action, ” it
is insufficient. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. Rather,
to satisfy the minimal requirements of Rule 8(a)(2), the
complaint must set forth “enough factual matter (taken
as true) to suggest” a cognizable cause of action,
“even if . . . [the] ...