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Milo v. Cybercore Technologies, LLC

United States District Court, D. Maryland

January 13, 2020

MEGAN MILO, Plaintiff,
v.
CYBERCORE TECHNOLOGIES, LLC, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          STEPHANIE A. GALLAGHER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Plaintiff Megan Milo (“Milo”) filed an Amended Complaint against Defendants Cybercore Technologies, LLC (“CyberCore”) and Northrop Grumman Corporation (“NGC”) (collectively, “Defendants”), alleging violations of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, 42 U.S.C. 2000e, et seq. (“Title VII”). ECF 47. Milo, a transgender woman, alleges that Defendants subjected her to a hostile work environment (Count One), terminated her employment because of her sex, gender identity, and gender expression (Count Two), and harassed and terminated her to retaliate for her internal complaints about discrimination (Count Three).[1]

         On September 17, 2019, United States District Judge Richard D. Bennett issued a Memorandum Opinion and Order which, in relevant part, dismissed certain counts of Milo's original Complaint without prejudice. ECF 41. Subsequently, on October 11, 2019, Milo filed her Amended Complaint. ECF 47. CyberCore and NGC each have filed Motions to Dismiss the Amended Complaint, ECF 48 (“CyberCore's Motion”), 49 (“NGC's Motion”). This Court has reviewed those Motions, Milo's Oppositions, ECF 52, 53, and Defendants' Replies, ECF 56, 57. No. hearing is necessary. See Local Rule 105.6 (D. Md. 2018). For the reasons set forth below, Defendants' Motions will be granted in part and denied in part.

         I. FACTUAL BACKGROUND [2]

         On or about December 2, 2012, upon approval by NGC, CyberCore hired Milo to be a Senior Software Engineer in a facility in Annapolis Junction, Maryland. ECF 47 ¶¶ 29-30, 33(3)[3]. Milo's workplace housed employees of NGC, employees of other subcontractors of NGC, and employees of federal agencies. Id. at ¶ 33. Milo was the only CyberCore employee in the office. Id. at ¶ 33(3). Her managers were NGC employees.[4] Id. at ¶ 33(4).

         In February, 2013, Milo received a promotion to Task Lead. Id. at ¶ 31. Milo began living full-time as a female shortly thereafter, on or about March 28, 2013. Id. at ¶ 32. Prior to Milo's gender transition, managers from Defendants and the federal government held a meeting, where they explained to the employees on Milo's floor that she “would be transitioning to the female sex, that she would use ‘she' and ‘her' pronouns, and that she should be treated with dignity and respect.” Id. at ¶ 43. Milo contends that, despite the meeting, her co-workers did not treat her appropriately. Id. at ¶¶ 44-45. Specifically, she alleges the following acts:

• “When she had first discussed transition with Ray Wise, a federal government manager with supervisory power over Ms. Milo, he asked if she would be wearing dresses when she transitioned to living as a female… He indicated dismay at her affirmative indication of choice of gendered attire, based on his bias against someone whom he considered to be male wearing attire that he considered to be female.” Id. at ¶¶ 46a-b.
• “Wise and other male managers and co-workers began to misgender Ms. Milo in order to diminish her gender and gender expression.” Id. at ¶ 46c.
• “This effort to diminish her gender and gender expression was confirmed for her when, at a meeting, she was told by a male co-worker who worked with and at the direction of Northrop that she wore her heels ‘too high.'” Id. at ¶ 46d.
• In April, 2013, “Ms. Anderson, a CyberCore manager, told [Milo] that her skirt was too short and was ‘bothering people.'” When Milo pointed out another female employee with a shorter skirt, Anderson responded, “Well that doesn't matter. She doesn't work for me, you do.” Id. at ¶ 46e.
• In March, 2013, Theresa Olson, “who worked with and at the direction of Northrop, ” told Milo that “she hated transgender people” because her ex-husband was transgender. Milo reported this incident to Anderson in or around June, 2013, but Anderson took no action. Id. at ¶¶ 46f, 60.
• In June, 2013, Milo and a male co-worker who worked “with and at the direction of Northrop, ” Rob Nelson, engaged in a loud and contentious disagreement “about a work matter.” After the incident, Wise corrected Milo for her loud argument with Nelson, but Nelson was not disciplined. Id. at ¶ 46g.
• A manager, Tom Morehead, “who worked with and at the direction of Northrop, ” witnessed misgendering by Alex Davis, “who worked with and at the direction of Northrop, ” and Anderson. In September, 2013, Morehead told Milo that “she needed to ‘lay low' because he knew that she was being targeted, and that if she were to complain, she would be in worse trouble.” Id. at ¶ 46h.
• Davis then brought a complaint against Milo “to his HR, ” complaining that he was “'walking on eggshells' around her because she asked to be called by her proper female name and female pronouns.”[5] Id. at ¶ 46i.
• On or about October 15, 2013, Anderson, NGC's Human Resources manager, Jeremy Knapp, and the federal government program manager placed Milo on a 30-day probationary period “based on Mr. Davis'[sic] complaint.” Id. at ¶ 46j.
• During that meeting, when Milo explained that Davis's conduct had been discriminatory, and asked that the misgendering and other poor treatment stop, Knapp responded, “What you think really doesn't matter.” Id. at ¶ 46k.
• During the probationary period, Milo was subject to a Performance Improvement Plan (“PIP”) issued by CyberCore and NGC, which indicated “interaction with coworkers is causing Megan to perform at a subpar level.” The PIP instructed Milo that, during probation, she should refrain from complaining in public forums, should treat all customers and coworkers with respect. The PIP further indicated, “Northrop Grumman management recognizes that there are extenuating circumstances, but Megan must extend the same understanding and latitude to her coworkers that she expects for herself. The team is walking on eggshells in fear of creating a perceived slight or offense. Id. at ¶ 46l.

         In addition to those specific allegations, the Amended Complaint contains a series of general allegations, defined as allegations which do not identify the speaker, or the approximate date, or the statement made:

• Davis “was intentionally discourteous to Ms. Milo, in refusing to use her correct name, title, and pronouns, and in making derogatory comments about ...

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