United States District Court, D. Maryland
STEPHANIE A. GALLAGHER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Thomas Gentle filed a Complaint against his former employer,
Defendant Booz Allen Hamilton, Inc. (“Booz
Allen”), alleging disability discrimination in
violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act
(“ADA”), 42 U.S.C. 12101, et seq. ECF 1.
Booz Allen has filed a Motion to Dismiss, ECF 14, along with
a supporting memorandum of law, ECF 14-1, (collectively, the
“Motion”). Gentle filed an opposition
(“Opposition”), ECF 16, and Booz Allen filed a
reply (“Reply”), ECF 17. I have considered all of
the filings, and find that no hearing is necessary.
See Loc. R. 105.6 (D. Md. 2018). For the reasons set
forth below, Booz Allen's Motion will be granted, and the
Complaint will be dismissed without prejudice.
is a military veteran who suffers from disabilities caused or
exacerbated by injuries he sustained on duty in the military.
ECF 1, ¶ 11. His disabilities include chronic lower
back, shoulder, neck, and knee pain, chronic sinusitis, and
temporomandibular joint disorder, in addition to headaches,
fatigue, and other symptoms. Id.
2006, Booz Allen hired Gentle as an Associate to perform work
on a large defense contract. Id. ¶ 12. During
his onboarding process, Gentle disclosed his disabilities to
Booz Allen, and received accommodations from its disabilities
accommodations section, including an ergonomic lumbar chair.
Id. ¶ 13. During Gentle's 2017 annual
performance evaluation, he discussed the challenges and
management of his chronic illness. Id. In addition,
“Gentle's former Career Manager and a former fellow
Senior Associate provided written support letters for the VA
regarding Gentle's disability symptoms and their impact,
with the most recent being within weeks of his joining the
new team.” Id.
about 2009, Booz Allen promoted Gentle to Senior Associate,
and he became responsible for management of up to fifty
employees. Id. ¶ 15. In addition, he was named
Deputy Program Manager on a contract worth more than $20
million. Id. Gentle received positive performance
reviews throughout his lengthy tenure at Booz Allen.
Id. ¶ 16.
contract on which Gentle served as Deputy Program Manager
expired in February, 2018. Id. ¶ 17. On or
about March 19, 2018, Gentle was assigned to a new team,
working as a Program Management Office (PMO) Lead responsible
for two sections, one in Virginia and one in San Antonio,
Texas. Id. ¶ 19. Because Gentle worked in
Maryland, most of his communications with his two offices
occurred remotely, via telephone, email, or text.
Id. Beginning on April 1, 2018, Mike Tallent served
as Gentle's Career Manager, and Kim Bird became his
second-line Manager. Id. ¶ 20. Bird did not
ever contact Gentle to discuss his disabilities and any real
or perceived impact on his performance. Id. ¶
new role, Gentle served as Transition Lead, and led a
transition of 230 PMO staff from March, 2018 through June,
2018. Id. ¶ 21. None of the staff contacted
Gentle, publicly or privately, to complain about his behavior
or his communications. Id. ¶ 22. In fact,
Government clients and other staff provided positive feedback
to Gentle. Id. One member of the San Antonio team,
Scedell Kreps, announced that she wanted to leave the PMO
office when it was overseen by Gentle. Id. ¶
25. After consulting with Tallent, Gentle spoke directly with
Krepps, who explained that she had decided to leave the PMO
months before Gentle joined the team, and was concerned that
the larger PMO contract would be run out of Virginia, making
the San Antonio office into a satellite office. Id.
Krepps also expressed concern with Gentle's
“perceived lack of vision for the PMO.”
about May 10, 2018, Gentle participated in a call with
Tallent and Amy Valez, a Deputy Program Manager from San
Antonio. Id. ¶ 28. Valdez led the meeting, and
notified Gentle that she had received negative feedback from
team members about Gentle's communication skills.
Id. Gentle asked Valdez to provide specific examples
of conduct leading to the complaints. Id. About a
week later, Gentle and Valdez met in Virginia. Id.
When Gentle tried to follow up on the negative feedback,
Valdez portrayed it as “not a big deal, ” but
said “she owed it to him to get him the
and Valdez allowed other staff members to interact with
Government clients in Texas and Colorado, but questioned
Gentle's communication with clients, despite his role as
PMO and Transition Lead. Id. ¶ 30. Moreover,
Jason Vaughn and other staff members were allowed to have
in-person meetings with Virginia Government clients, without
Gentle's presence. Id. Gentle's attempts to
travel and meet in person with his PMO staffs were rebuffed
or cancelled by Bird. Id. ¶ 31. However, Bird
permitted other staff members to travel for meetings.
Id. ¶ 32.
about June 8, 2018, Gentle received a positive performance
review at a meeting that included Bird and other Booz Allen
officials. Id. ¶ 33. During the
evaluation, Gentle was described as having a strength in the
area of “Foster Collaboration and Develop Expertise,
” and was further described “as building a team
with a very collaborative team culture that was focused on
learning and growing.” Id. ¶ 16.
11, 2018, Valdez finally provided Gentle with an example of
“Gentle's contact with clients without knowledge of
or approval, ” as he had requested at the meeting in
May. Id. ¶ 34. The example Valdez cited
consisted of an incomplete email chain, which did not contain
an email reflecting Tallent's approval of Gentle's
work. Id. Gentle tried to give Valdez the other
communications to show more context, but Valdez responded
that she “would not be relitigating the issue.”
13, 2018, Gentle led the final transition call, which
announced the successful transition of 230 staff from the VA
to the TX contracts. Id. ¶ 35. Most of the
team's leadership participated on the call. Id.
After the call, several members of the team expressed
satisfaction with the success of the transition. Id.
agreed to meet with Gentle in Maryland on or about June 27,
2018, to discuss his work concerns. Id. ¶ 36.
At the beginning of the meeting, Gentle told Bird that
“he was not feeling well and was suffering from a very
bad headache and other symptoms, ” and that “he
took some over the counter sinus medication.”
Id. ¶ 37. Gentle continued with the meeting,
since Bird had driven from Virginia for the meeting.
Id. During the meeting, Gentle discussed his vision