Ajlsefinni v. Clifton Larson Allen, LLP
MEMORANDUM OPINION. Signed by Judge Deborah L. Boardman on 11/18/2022. (kb3s, Deputy Clerk)(c/m 11.18.2022)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF MARYLAND
Civ. No. DLB-19-3284
Paula Ajisefinni alleges her former employer CliftonLarsonAllen, LLP (“CLA”) fired her
from her position as Senior Auditor because of her race and age. ECF 1 & 2. She asserts violations
of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (“Title VII”), the Age Discrimination in Employment
Act of 1967 (“ADEA”), and Maryland anti-discrimination laws, as well as a breach of contract
claim.1 Before Ajisefinni retained counsel, CLA moved to dismiss and sought other sanctions for
discovery delays. ECF 28. The Court denied the motion. ECF 40. Ajisefinni retained counsel
and discovery proceeded, though she never pursued written responses to her discovery requests
after CLA refused to produce responsive documents without a stipulated confidentiality order. See
ECF 51. After the close of discovery, CLA filed the pending motion for summary judgment. ECF
52. The Clerk of Court sent a Rule 12/56 notice to Ajisefinni on June 1, 2022, advising her that
the summary judgment motion, if granted, could result in dismissal of the case; that she had the
Ajisefinni filed her complaint, ECF 1, without the assistance of counsel. She attached her EEOC
charge, with a separate “Statement of Claim,” ECF 2, to her complaint. Together, these filings
(ECF 1 and 2) are the operative complaint. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 10(c). She retained counsel in
May 2021. See ECF 31, 32, 33. This Court granted plaintiff’s counsel’s motion to withdraw on
December 17, 2021. ECF 49. In accordance with Local Rule 101.2, the Clerk of Court sent
Ajisefinni a letter on December 20 advising her that the case would proceed regardless of whether
she obtained new counsel. ECF 50. She has proceeded pro se since her former counsel’s
right to file a response within twenty-eight days; and that if she did not respond, the Court would
resolve the case based on the defendant’s materials. ECF 53. Ajisefinni did not file an opposition.
A hearing is not necessary. Loc. R. 105.6. For the following reasons, the Court grants CLA’s
motion for summary judgment.
In support of its motion for summary judgment, CLA submits four sworn affidavits; a
Performance Improvement Plan; a list of individuals hired into CLA’s Federal Practice sector
(where Ajisefinni worked) from 2012 to 2018; and emails between Ajisefinni and a supervisor.
See ECF 52-2 – 52-11. Ajisefinni did not respond or submit any evidence in opposition to the
motion. Failure to respond to a motion for summary judgment “leave[s] uncontroverted those facts
established by the motion” for the purposes of deciding the motion. See Custer v. Pan Am. Life
Ins. Co., 12 F.3d 410, 416 (4th Cir. 2013); Wallace v. Koppel, No. JFM-09-2666, 2010 WL
1956821, at *2 (D. Md. May 14, 2010) (accepting evidence presented by defendants as undisputed
where plaintiff failed to oppose summary judgment motion). In deciding whether CLA is entitled
to judgment as a matter of law, the Court will accept the following facts found in the exhibits to
CLA’s motion as undisputed and construe them in the light most favorable to Ajisefinni.
CLA hired Ajisefinni as a Senior Auditor within its Federal Practice sector on September
21, 2015. Ajisefinni is Black. At the time she was hired, she was approximately 55 years old.
Prior to being hired, Denise Wu, then a Principal at CLA, interviewed Ajisefinni in person. CLA
charged Wu with making the decision as to whether CLA should hire Ajisefinni. Following the
interview, Wu, who was aware of Ajisefinni’s race and approximate age, decided and
recommended that CLA should hire her.
CLA’s Federal Practice performs audits of various clients, including federal agencies such
as the United States Government Accountability Office (“GAO”) and the United States
Department of Veteran Affairs (“VA”). CLA staffs its audit assignments with a Principal, who
primarily supervises an Audit Manager, who primarily supervises a Senior Auditor, who primarily
supervises lower-level auditors. The lower-level auditors report directly to the Senior Auditor,
who reports to the Audit Manager, and so on. Ajisefinni was initially assigned as Senior Auditor
to an audit of GAO. Wu was the Principal on that audit, Justice Sakyi (who is also Black) was the
Audit Manager overseeing Ajisefinni, and several lower-level CLA auditors were also assigned.
During the GAO audit, Ajisefinni “did not provide guidance to staff or communicate up to
management . . . . This became a risk in the tight deadline environment the audit was under.” ECF
52-2, at 2. Ajisefinni arrived late to the client office multiple times. During meetings with her
supervisor, she “would turn a blind eye” and claim she was not responsible for assigned tasks or
outstanding items, despite her supervisor having discussed her responsibilities with her on multiple
Based on Ajisefinni’s performance on the GAO audit, Wu reassigned her to an audit of VA
in early 2016. Wu was again the Principal on that audit, Janice Codrington (who is also Black)
was the Audit Manager overseeing Ajisefinni, and several lower-level CLA auditors were
assigned. During the VA audit, Ajisefinni communicated with her supervisor only when she chose
to, “without regard for the needs of her team.” Id. at 3. On several occasions, she did not inform
Codrington of her location. For her first assignment, she spent over four weeks updating basic
Her work product generally “need[ed] a lot of correction and update[s]” by
Codrington to meet client needs, and she failed to prioritize client assignments to ensure timely
completion of work. Id. at 4. Despite Codrington specifically instructing Ajisefinni to ask
clarifying questions, she “refuse[d] to cooperate with that request” or check in more often. Id. at
3. Finally, she did not prepare for or offer to help with a client meeting.
On April 16, CLA placed Ajisefinni on a Performance Improvement Plan (“PIP”). The
decision to place her on a PIP was made collectively by Wu, Sakyi, and Codrington, as well as
Cynthia Blake, a Senior People Solutions Generalist. On April 20, Sakyi and Codrington met with
Ajisefinni to discuss performance issues documented in the PIP. Wu attended the meeting. The
PIP notes that prior to the meeting, both of Ajisefinni’s supervisors on the GAO and VA audits
(Sakyi and Codrington) had discussed the performance feedback with her.
During the weeks following the PIP meeting, Ajisefinni’s job performance did not
improve. On May 9, 2016, with the approval of Doreen Shute (CLA’s Federal Practice leader),
CLA terminated Ajisefinni’s employment.
Ajisefinni filed a charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”)
on May 8, 2017 alleging discrimination based on race and age, which she signed under penalty of
perjury. ECF 1-1, at 1. In it, she alleges that during “the course of [her] employment Denise Wu
would make derogatory comments regarding [her] age, which took the form of being told, ‘you
are too old, you don’t fit the group of younger staff.’” Id. The EEOC issued a Notice of Right to
Sue on August 16, 2019. Id. at 2. On November 14, 2019, Ajisefinni, proceeding pro se, filed a
complaint alleging race-based employment discrimination under Title VII, age-based employment
discrimination under the ADEA, analogous state law claims, and breach of contract.2 ECF 2, at 2.
She claims that she was terminated because of her race and age. Id. at 1. She seeks, inter alia,
reinstatement with back pay and a promotion; $4 million in compensatory and punitive damages;
liquidated damages; and costs and fees. ECF 1, at 7.
Standard of Review
Summary judgment is appropriate when the moving party establishes that “there is no
genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.”
Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a). To meet its burden, the party must identify “particular parts of materials in
the record, including depositions, documents, electronically stored information, affidavits or
declarations, stipulations . . . admissions, interrogatory answers, or other materials” in support of
its position. Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c)(1)(A). Then, “[t]o avoid summary judgment, the opposing party
must set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.” Perkins v. Int’l Paper
Co., 936 F.3d 196, 205 (4th Cir. 2019) (citing Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248
(1986)). A dispute of fact is genuine “if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a
verdict for the nonmoving party.” Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248. The opposing party must identify
more than a “scintilla of evidence” in support of its position to defeat the motion for summary
judgment. Id. at 251. The Court “should not weigh the evidence.” Perkins, 936 F.3d at 205
(quoting Anderson, 477 U.S. at 249). However, if “the record taken as a whole could not lead a
Regarding the state law claims, Ajisefinni specifically alleges “Violation of the State of Maryland
Civil Rights Laws Article 49B Section I and Maryland State Government Title 20 Subtitle 6—
Discrimination in Employment.” ECF 2, at 2. The first provision refers to a now-repealed
Maryland statute prohibiting employment discrimination. See Rosero v. Johnson, Mirmiran &
Thompson, Inc., No. GLR-21-588, 2022 WL 899442, at *2 n.3 (D. Md. Mar. 28, 2022). The
second provision Ajisefinni cites, the Maryland Fair Employment Practices Act, is the current
Maryland law prohibiting employment discrimination. Id.; Md. Code Ann., State Gov’t § 20-601
rational trier of fact to find for the non-moving party,” then summary judgment is proper. Id.
(quoting Teamsters Joint Council No. 83 v. Centra, Inc., 947 F.2d 115, 119 (4th Cir. 1991)); see
also Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322–23 (1986). In ruling on a motion for summary
judgment, this Court “view[s] the facts and inferences drawn from the facts in the light most
favorable to . . . the nonmoving party.” Perkins, 936 F.3d at 205 (quoting Evans v. Techs.
Applications & Serv. Co., 80 F.3d 954, 958 (4th Cir. 1996)).
A. Title VII Race Discrimination
Ajisefinni asserts a Title VII discrimination claim alleging that she was terminated because
of her race. “Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq., as amended,
prohibits employment discrimination.” Ricci v. DeStefano, 557 U.S. 557, 577 (2009). The Act
reaches “status-based discrimination” by providing “basic workplace protection such as
prohibitions against employer discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national
origin, in hiring, firing, salary structure, promotion and the like.” Univ. of Tex. Sw. Med. Ctr. v.
Nassar, 570 U.S. 338, 342 (2013) (citing 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2(a)).
Ajisefinni, as the plaintiff, bears the burden of proving the defendant discriminated against
her “because of a protected characteristic.” DeJarnette v. Corning Inc., 133 F.3d 293, 298 (4th
Cir. 1998). A plaintiff can meet this burden through two avenues of proof: (1) by presenting direct
or circumstantial evidence that an impermissible factor (here, race) solely or partially motivated
the employer’s adverse employment decision; or (2) by proceeding under the McDonnell Douglas
burden-shifting framework. Perkins v. Int’l Paper Co., 936 F.3d 196, 206 n.4 (4th Cir. 2019); see
McDonnell Douglas Corp. v. Green, 411 U.S. 792, 802 (1973).
Ajisefinni’s only direct or circumstantial evidence supporting her discrimination claim
based on race is that she is Black. This fact alone is not sufficient to create a genuine issue of
material fact as to whether race solely or partially motivated her termination. Thus, the Court
proceeds to analyze her claim under the McDonnell Douglas burden-shifting framework.
McDonnell Douglas, 411 U.S. at 802; see Foster v. Univ. of Md.-Eastern Shore, 787 F.3d 243,
250 (4th Cir. 2015) (analyzing Title VII claim under McDonnell Douglas framework where
plaintiff did not proceed by direct evidence).
To establish a prima facie case of employment discrimination under McDonnell Douglas,
a plaintiff must prove: “(1) membership in a protected class; (2) satisfactory job performance; (3)
[an] adverse employment action; and (4) that the adverse employment action taken was taken under
circumstances giving rise to an inference of unlawful discrimination.” Payne v. Brennan, No. PX16-1095, 2017 WL 952677, at *3 (D. Md. Mar. 10, 2017) (citing Coleman v. Md. Court of Appeals,
626 F.3d 187, 190 (4th Cir. 2010)) (internal citations omitted). The fourth element may be satisfied
with direct or circumstantial evidence of discrimination. Spencer v. Va. State Univ., 919 F.3d 199,
207 (4th Cir. 2019).
Once a plaintiff establishes a prima facie case of discrimination, the burden shifts to the
employer to produce evidence showing a legitimate and non-discriminatory reason for the adverse
employment action. Id. The burden then returns to the plaintiff to prove by a preponderance of
the evidence that the stated reason is pretext for discrimination. Id. “[The plaintiff] may succeed
in this either by directly persuading the court that a discriminatory reason more likely motivated
the employer or indirectly by showing that the employer’s proffered explanation is unworthy of
credence.” Texas Dep’t of Cmty. Affairs v. Burdine, 450 U.S. 248, 256 (1981). To survive
summary judgment, the plaintiff “must cast sufficient doubt upon the genuineness of the
explanation to warrant a jury’s consideration of possible alternative and discriminatory
motivations for the firing.” Guessous v. Fairview Prop. Invs., LLC, 828 F.3d 208, 218 (4th Cir.
Ajisefinni has established the first and third elements of a prima facie discrimination claim
by virtue of her race and the fact that CLA fired her. However, she fails to offer evidence from
which a reasonable jury could find she has met the second element (satisfactory job performance)
or the fourth element (circumstances indicating unlawful discrimination).
Ajisefinni has not set forth specific facts indicating that she performed her job
satisfactorily. Though she alleges in the complaint that she “performed [her] duties diligently and
followed all the standards and guidelines appropriately,” ECF 2 at 1, allegations unsupported by
evidence do not raise a genuine issue of material fact. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c) (a party asserting
a genuine issue of material fact must support the assertion by citing to particular parts of materials
in the record); 56(e)(2) (if a party fails to properly support an assertion of fact or address another
party’s assertion of fact, the Court may consider the fact undisputed for summary judgment
On the other hand, CLA has offered uncontroverted evidence indicating that Ajisefinni’s
job performance as Senior Auditor was unsatisfactory. During her first audit assignment, she
arrived late, claimed she was not responsible for assigned tasks, and failed to properly
communicate with either the lower-level auditors she oversaw or her own supervisors. Due to her
performance, Wu reassigned her to a different audit. Problems persisted. On this second audit,
Ajisefinni’s work product was often late and needed frequent correction.
She refused to
communicate with her new supervisor as frequently as was necessary and did not fulfill her duties
to prepare for a client meeting. Throughout both audits, Ajisefinni’s supervisors provided her with
feedback that went unheeded. They eventually placed her on a Performance Improvement Plan.
They discussed this plan with Ajisefinni, Wu, and a human resources representative on April 16,
2016. Ajisefinni’s performance did not improve in the weeks following. Even drawing all
inferences in favor of Ajisefinni, she has not set forth any facts to contradict CLA’s evidence.
There is no genuine dispute regarding her unsatisfactory job performance.
Ajisefinni also has not set forth any facts indicating that her termination occurred under
circumstances that would give rise to an inference of unlawful discrimination. She has not
produced any evidence that CLA treated non-Black employees—similarly situated or otherwise—
any differently than it treated her. See Coleman, 626 F.3d at 190. CLA, for its part, has produced
evidence that both of Ajisefinni’s supervisors were Black which, although “not conclusively
determinative that [the employer] did not discriminate . . . certainly tends to support . . . that it was
[the plaintiff’s] unsatisfactory level of work, and not [her] race, that engendered negative response
from [her] supervisors.” See Washington v. Digital Equipment Corp., 968 F.2d 1213, 1992 WL
1617946, at *5 (4th Cir. July 21, 1992) (Table). These circumstances do not give rise to an
inference of unlawful discrimination.
Ajisefinni thus fails to establish a prima facie case of race-based employment
discrimination. Even if she had, CLA has offered a legitimate and non-discriminatory reason for
firing her: poor job performance. Under McDonnell Douglas’s burden-shifting framework,
Ajisefinni would need to prove that this reason is mere pretext. As explained, she has not offered
any evidence to indicate that her job performance was, in fact, satisfactory, or that her employers
were more likely motivated by discriminatory intent. To the contrary, the record indicates that the
same CLA employee who decided to hire Ajisefinni, Wu, was involved in the decision to fire her
less than a year later. In circumstances “where the hirer and the firer are the same individual and
the termination of employment occurs within a relatively short time span following the hiring, a
strong inference exists that discrimination was not a determining factor for the adverse action taken
by the employer.” Proud v. Stone, 945 F.2d 796, 797 (4th Cir. 1991). Ajisefinni has offered no
evidence that the reason she was fired—poor performance—was pretext for discrimination. CLA
is entitled to summary judgment on the Title VII claim.
B. Age Discrimination in Employment Act
Ajisefinni also asserts an ADEA claim alleging that she was terminated because of her age.
The ADEA makes it “unlawful for an employer . . . to discharge any individual . . . because of
such individual’s age.” 29 U.S.C. § 623(a)(1). Ajisefinni, as the plaintiff, bears the burden of
proving that her age was a “determining factor” in CLA’s decision to fire her. Mereish v. Walker,
359 F.3d 330, 334 (4th Cir. 2004); Gross v. FBL Fin. Servs., Inc., 557 U.S. 167, 176 (2009) (a
plaintiff asserting an ADEA claim “must prove that age was the ‘but-for’ cause of the employer’s
adverse decision” (citation omitted)). Similar to the Title VII context, a plaintiff can establish age
discrimination under the ADEA through either direct or circumstantial evidence that age motivated
the adverse employment action, or by engaging in the McDonnell Douglas burden-shifting
analysis. Davenport v. Anne Arundel Cnty. Bd. of Educ., 998 F. Supp. 2d 428, 433 (D. Md. 2014);
Mereish, 359 F.3d at 334.
Ajisefinni swore in her EEOC charge attached to the complaint that Wu told her that she
was “too old” and “do[es] not fit the group of younger staff.” ECF 1-1, at 1. Wu states in her
affidavit that she “never made any such comments to or about Ms. Ajisefinni.” ECF 52-3, at 6.
When, as here, a plaintiff alleges age discrimination through direct or circumstantial evidence, she
must produce, to avoid summary judgment, “direct evidence of a stated purpose to discriminate
and/or [indirect] evidence of sufficient probative force to reflect a genuine issue of material fact.”
Rhoads v. FDIC, 257 F.3d 373, 391 (4th Cir. 2001) (quotation omitted). Such evidence must both
“reflect directly the alleged discriminatory attitude and . . . bear directly on the contested
employment decision.” Id. at 391–92.
Ajisefinni has not produced sufficient evidence. Even though Wu’s alleged statements
reflect ageism, they do not bear directly on the decision to fire Ajisefinni.
consistently held that remarks about age that are not directly connected with the decision-making
process do not reflect discriminatory intent sufficient to sustain an ADEA claim.” Gott v. Town
of Chesapeake Beach, Md., 44 F. Supp. 3d 610, 615 (D. Md. 2014) (finding alleged statements did
sustain ADEA claim because they were the defendant’s explanation for the employment decision
and were said contemporaneous with that decision); see Birbeck v. Marvel Lighting Corp., 30 F.3d
507, 512 (4th Cir. 1994) (affirming judgment as a matter of law for employer and finding
manager’s statement two years prior to firing that “there comes a time when we have to make way
for younger people” was not evidence of age discrimination); Lerner v. Shinseki, No. ELH-101109, 2011 WL 2414967, at *18 (D. Md. June 10, 2011) (granting summary judgment on ADEA
claim where alleged comments that plaintiff was “too old to change” and it was a “mistake” to let
him into program were “not directly connected” to firing decision). Ajisefinni states only that the
statements were made “[d]uring the course of [her] employment.” ECF 1-1, at 1. Ajisefinni does
not specify when the statements were made, in what context, or any other indirect evidence that
might indicate they relate to CLA’s decision to fire her. Moreover, even if the statements did
somehow directly bear on her firing, Ajisefinni has not offered evidence suggesting that her
unsatisfactory job performance was not the real reason for her termination. See Cole v. Fam.
Dollar Stores of Md., Inc., 811 F. App’x 168, 175 (4th Cir. 2020) (affirming summary judgment
where, even assuming employer’s comments were direct evidence of age discrimination, defendant
presented evidence of a legitimate motivation for termination and plaintiff did not offer sufficient
evidence to suggest it was not the reason). On this record, Ajisefinni fails to meet her burden of
proving via direct or circumstantial evidence that age was a but-for, “determining factor” in CLA’s
decision to fire her.
Turning, then, to the second method of proving an ADEA claim, Ajisefinni likewise fails
to meet her burden under the McDonnell Douglas framework. To establish a prima facie claim of
discriminatory discharge under the ADEA, a plaintiff must prove that “(1) she was a member of
the protected class, i.e. at least 40 years old; (2) she suffered an adverse employment action; (3)
she was at the time meeting the employer’s legitimate expectations; and (4) she was replaced by
someone who is either outside the protected class or substantially younger than the plaintiff.” Kess
v. Mun. Emps. Credit Union of Balt., Inc., 319 F.Supp.2d 637, 648 (D. Md. 2004) (granting motion
for summary judgment where plaintiff failed to carry burden to show she was discharged because
of her age). Ajisefinni has established that she was over 40 years old when she was fired.
However, she fails to raise a genuine issue regarding whether she was meeting CLA’s legitimate
expectations for a Senior Auditor at the time she was fired. The unrefuted record evidence
indicates that Ajisefinni did not properly communicate with supervisors, oversee lower-level
auditors, meet client needs and deadlines, or respond to feedback. Her performance did not
improve after being placed on a Performance Improvement Plan. Ajisefinni does not identify
evidence to the contrary. Similarly, she has not offered evidence (or even allegations) indicating
that CLA replaced her with someone substantially younger than herself.
Even assuming that Ajisefinni could state a prima facie ADEA claim such that the burden
would shift under McDonnell Douglas, CLA offers ample evidence of her unsatisfactory job
performance, which is a legitimate, non-discriminatory reason for firing her. Ajisefinni has not
met her burden to show by a preponderance of the evidence that this reason is pretextual. As in
the Title VII context, the fact that Ajisefinni was hired by the same CLA supervisor (Wu) who
later contributed to the decision to fire her “a relatively short time” later creates an inference
against a finding of discrimination. Kess, 319 F. Supp. 2d at 649 (quoting Proud, 945 F.2d at 797–
98). Also relevant (though not dispositive) is the fact that CLA hired others into management
positions within its Federal Practice, both before and after Ajisefinni was fired, who were also over
40 years old. See ECF 2-4 at 1–2; ECF 52-7 at 10–13; Kess, 319 F. Supp. 2d at 649 n.21 (noting
that the fact that employer hired at least one other manager over 40 was relevant to inference
against ADEA discrimination).
CLA’s motion for summary judgment on Ajisefinni’s ADEA claim is granted.
C. Maryland Fair Employment Practices Act
The Maryland Fair Employment Practices Act (“MFEPA”) “prohibit[s] discrimination in
employment by any person.” Md. Code Ann., State Gov’t § 20-602. Race and age discrimination
claims under the MFEPA “are assessed under the Title VII framework.” Foster v. Summer Vill.
Cmty. Ass’n, No. PX-19-1199, 2021 WL 615136, at *4 (D. Md. Feb. 17, 2021) (citing Guessous,
828 F.3d at 216); see Evans v. Md. Nat’l Capital Parks & Plan. Comm’n, No. TDC-19-2651, 2020
WL 6703718, at *8 (D. Md. Nov. 13, 2020) (“Title VII standards also apply to employment
discrimination claims under the MFEPA.”); see also Snyder v. Md. Dep’t of Transp., No. CCB21-930, 2022 WL 980395, at *10 (D. Md. Mar. 31, 2022) (applying same McDonnell Douglas
framework to plaintiff’s ADEA- and MFEPA-based age discrimination claims).
For the reasons discussed in analyzing Ajisefinni’s claims under Title VII and the ADEA,
CLA likewise is entitled to summary judgment on Ajisefinni’s race and age discrimination claims
under the MFEPA.
D. Breach of Contract
In her breach of contract claim, Ajisefinni alleges CLA “violated its own policies and
procedures on Equal Employment Opportunity and other unlawful and offensive work
environment.” ECF 2, at 2. She alleges that CLA provided written policies and procedures to all
employees, including her, that state that CLA is an equal opportunity employer that does not
discriminate on the basis of race, age, national origin, etc. Id. She finally alleges that CLA failed
to follow its own policies and procedures and that this breach of contract “has caused injuries,
damages and harm to the Plaintiff.” Id.
To establish a breach of contract claim under Maryland law, a plaintiff must prove that “the
defendant owed the plaintiff a contractual obligation and that the defendant breached that
obligation.” Taylor v. NationsBank, N.A., 776 A.2d 645, 651 (Md. 2001). Maryland courts
generally refuse to find that employer policy statements give rise to a contractual obligation where
the publication “[makes] only general statements of policy that could not be applied to specific
employees.” Bender v. Suburban Hosp., Inc., 758 A.2d 1090, 1113 (Md. Ct. Spec. App. 2000).
In Bender, for instance, the Court of Special Appeals held that anti-discrimination language in a
hospital’s bylaws—which stated that employment status and privileges would be decided without
regard to sex, race, creed, color, disability, or national origin—was not contractual because it did
not constitute a promise with potentially enforceable specificity. Id. Instead, it bound the
employer “only in the moral sense.” Id.
Though Ajisefinni’s breach of contract claim regarding CLA’s anti-discrimination policies
may have been sufficient to survive a motion to dismiss, it does not survive summary judgment.
See Webb v. Potomac Electric Power Company, No. TDC-18-3303, 2020 WL 1083402, at *6–*7
(D. Md. Mar. 6, 2020) (denying motion to dismiss implied breach of contract claim based on
employer’s anti-discrimination policies where plaintiff required discovery in order to obtain exact
language of the policy documents). Ajisefinni has alleged only the existence of a general antidiscrimination policy. She has not submitted any evidence that the alleged policy language gave
rise to a contractional obligation of CLA. Summary judgment is thus warranted on the breach of
For the foregoing reasons, the defendant CliftonLarsonAllen, LLP is entitled to summary
judgment. A separate order follows.
Deborah L. Boardman
United States District Judge
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