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Asi v. Information Management Group, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Maryland

December 31, 2019

EYAD ASI, Plaintiff,
v.
INFORMATION MANAGEMENT GROUP, INC., Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          Stephanie A. Gallagher United States District Judge

         Plaintiff Eyad Asi (“Plaintiff”) filed a two-count Amended Complaint against his former employer, Information Management Group, Inc. (“IMG”), alleging retaliation for his complaint of race discrimination, in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1981 and Title VII. ECF 56. Discovery is now concluded, and IMG has filed a Motion for Summary Judgment, ECF 60, accompanied by a Memorandum of Law in Support thereof, ECF 60-1 (collectively, “the Motion”). I have reviewed the Motion, along with Plaintiff's Opposition and Memorandum in Support, ECF 61, IMG's Reply, ECF 70, and various supplemental filings 63, 67. No hearing is necessary. See Loc. R. 105.6 (D. Md. 2018). For the reasons that follow, I will grant Defendant's Motion.

         I. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

         The facts are viewed in the light most favorable to Plaintiff, the non-moving party.[1] The United States Department of the Army retained Absolute Business Solutions Corp. (“ABS”) as a government contractor on the Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest Base Contract (“the MAVNI contract”). ECF 61-1 at 13:22-14:9. The contract involved security vetting of foreign nationals. Id. ABS entered into a subcontract with IMG to staff some analyst positions on the MAVNI contract. Id. at 15:12-20.

         On or about April 12, 2017, IMG hired Plaintiff and assigned him to work as an analyst on the MAVNI contract at Fort Meade, Maryland. ECF 60-10. On or about May 15, 2017, Plaintiff and other new analysts reported for training and processing, which was largely led by ABS. ECF 60-3 at 37:10-38:17. Plaintiff's job duties involved generating reports pertaining to the MAVNI contract. Id. at 54:6-55:8. Plaintiff's direct, on-site supervisors were ABS employees. Id. at 58:3-22. Generally, analysts were expected to produce two reports in an eight-hour workday, and IMG did not permit analysts to work overtime without first meeting that quota. See, e.g., ECF 60-4; see also ECF 60-3 at 54:6-55:8. ABS sent reminders to the analysts reiterating that performance standard. ECF 60-3 at 54:6-55:8.

         On November 7, 2017, the site lead, Matthew Rice, sent an email to other supervisors, in which he stated that, “Eyad meets all product expectations.” ECF 61-3. In February, 2018, IMG provided its six employees working on the MAVNI contract with gift bags. ECF 67-1 at 2. IMG sought ABS's insight into how IMG's analysts were performing on the contract, as IMG wished to include gift cards in each bag “commensurate with [ABS's] response to this inquiry.” Id. Based on ABS's response, three IMG-employed analysts received a $100 gift card; Plaintiff received a $50 gift card; and two other IMG-employed analysts received no gift card. Id.

         On Monday, March 5, 2018, the ABS Program Manager, Sam Caltagerone, sent an email to Plaintiff and the other analysts on the project, describing the prior week's unsatisfactory performance. ECF 60-5. Caltagerone lamented that even with overtime hours, the aggregate production total for the week remained nearly 100 reports short of the expected number. Id. All analysts were warned that the supervisory staff would be monitoring their daily production, to enforce the expected quota. Id.

         About ninety minutes after Caltagerone's email was sent, Plaintiff emailed the Human Resources (HR) directors for IMG and ABS, alleging discrimination by several ABS and government employees. ECF 60-6. Plaintiff stated that he had reported the issues to management, but no consequences had accrued to the employees he complained about. Id. at 1-2. Plaintiff asserted that the discriminatory actions by his coworkers and supervisors had led the government lead to question his ability to do his job. Id. at 2. He further alleged that neither IMG nor ABS had taken action to protect him from harassing conduct, noting that he felt like other employees were trying to get him fired. Id. Also on March 5, 2018, Steve Walter, an Operations Manager at IMG, wrote an initial write-up describing Plaintiff's discrimination complaint, in which he noted that “Sam [Caltagerone] said that Eyad is not in any scrutiny or is in jeopardy of being removed from contract so I don't know where his claims of [racial and ethnic discrimination] came from.” ECF 61-4.

         The next day, March 6, 2018, Walter met with Plaintiff to discuss his allegations. ECF 61-2 at 200:20-201:8, 202:7-9. Two days later, on March 8, 2018, Walter emailed Plaintiff:

I hope you are doing well. I wanted to thank you for meeting with me on Tuesday to discuss your concern. I hope that the removal of Mr. Clark from your floor has resolved your concern and you are now able to conduct your duties without issue. If you need anything else, please do not hesitate contacting me.

         ECF 60-7. Plaintiff was not sure whether he responded, but he acknowledged that, at that point, he could conduct his duties without issue. ECF 60-3 at 154:18-155:10.

         In ABS's view, however, Plaintiff continued to perform at a subpar level. According to Caltagerone, “between 1 and 14 March, Plaintiff completed 10 reports of which two were returned by the government reviewer for missing information. During this period, he should have completed 25 reports based off the 102.5 hours he billed to the government.” ECF 60-8 at 1. On March 14, 2018, Caltagerone emailed Duane Walther (a supervisor at ABS) and said,

I directed Steve Walter from IMG to remove Eyad from contract. He has charged 34 hours this week and only produced 3 Phase 5 ASRs. From the hours he worked, he should have completed at least 8 Phase 5 ASRs. This is not the first time I spoke to Steve regarding Eyad's production performance, the last time he worked 56 hours and only produced 4 Phase 5 ASRs.

         ECF 60-9 at 1. Plaintiff's employment offer from IMG had specified that if he were denied access to the customer's facility, his employment could be terminated for cause. ECF 60-10; ECF 60-11, ¶ 3. After ABS denied Plaintiff access to the facility where the MAVNI ...


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