Thursday, February 22, 2007

Henderson v. Gilbert (Maryland U.S.D.C.) (Not Approved for Publication)

Filed February 20, 2007--Opinion by Judge J. Frederick Motz. (Not approved for publication.)

Henderson brought this pro se employment discrimination action against Defendants Anne Arundel County Board of Education ("the Board"); John Gilbert, the foreman of operations for Anne Arundel County Schools; Walter George, the supervisor of operations for the Anne Arundel County Schools; and Sue Torr, who served as principal of Solley Elementary School ("Solley"). Other claims in the case had previously been dismissed. Here, the Court granted the Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment as to the remaining three claims: Aalleged violation of Article 24 of the Maryland Declaration of Rights by all defendants; alleged violations of Title VII by the Board; and alleged federal constitutional violations by the individual defendants asserted under 42 U.S.C. 1983 and 1985(3).

The instant action arises from the denial of the promotion and from suspensions imposed on Henderson while he was employed as the Chief Custodian at Solley on three separate occasions. He alleged discrimination based upon his race and he also claimed that he was retaliated against after he filed his EEOC complaint.

The Title VII Claims Against the Board. Held: Henderson has not been able to establish a prima facie case for race discrimination because he has not been able to identify any employee of Solley--or the Board more broadly--who had similar work performance issues but received less severe discipline.

The Maryland Constitutional Claim Against All Defendants. Held: This claim fails for the same reasons as does Henderson's Title VII claims. Furthermore, the individual defendants are protected by a qualified privilege since the "facts establish that the individual defendants did not act with malice or gross negligence." Here, the term "malice" was defined as the "[intentional performance of] an act without legal justification or excuse, but with an evil or rancorous motive influenced by hate, the purpose being to deliberately and willfully injure the plaintiff."

The Federal Constitutional Claims Against Individual Defendants. Held: This claim fails for the same reasons as does Henderson's Title VII claims. Furthermore, the Court held that the individual defendants did not play a role in the decision-making process leading to Henderson's failure to be promoted.

A copy of the opinion and order is available in PDF.

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