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Boyer-Liberto v. Fontainebleau Corp.

United States Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit

May 13, 2014

REYA C. BOYER-LIBERTO, Plaintiff - Appellant,
v.
FONTAINEBLEAU CORPORATION, trading as Clarion Resort Fontainebleau Hotel; LEONARD P. BERGER, Defendants - Appellees

Argued January 29, 2014

Page 351

Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of Maryland, at Baltimore. (1:12-cv-00212-JKB). James K. Bredar, District Judge.

ARGUED:

Robin Ringgold Cockey, COCKEY, BRENNAN & MALONEY, PC, Salisbury, Maryland, for Appellant.

Harriet Ellen Cooperman, SAUL EWING LLP, Baltimore, Maryland, for Appellees.

ON BRIEF:

Brett S. Covington, SAUL EWING LLP, Baltimore, Maryland, for Appellees.

Before TRAXLER, Chief Judge, and NIEMEYER and SHEDD, Circuit Judges. Judge Niemeyer wrote the opinion, in which Judge Shedd joined. Judge Shedd wrote a separate concurring opinion. Chief Judge Traxler wrote an opinion concurring in part and dissenting in part.

OPINION

Page 352

NIEMEYER, Circuit Judge

Reya C. Boyer-Liberto, an African-American woman, commenced this action against her former employer, the Fontainebleau Corporation, trading as Clarion Resort Fontainebleau Hotel, in Ocean City, Maryland, and its owner, Leonard Berger, for racial discrimination and retaliation, in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and 42 U.S.C. § 1981. She grounds her racial discrimination claim on a hostile work environment allegedly created by two conversations she had with a coworker about an incident that occurred on September 14, 2010. During the conversations, which took place on two consecutive days, the coworker twice called Liberto a " porch monkey." And she grounds her retaliation claim on the termination of her employment after she complained about the statements.

Page 353

The district court granted the defendants' motion for summary judgment, concluding that the conduct was too isolated to support either of Liberto's claims.

For the reasons that follow, we affirm.

I

Liberto began working at the Clarion Resort Fontainebleau Hotel (the " Clarion" ) on August 4, 2010. The Clarion is a typical oceanfront hotel, with several restaurants, bars, a nightclub, and banquet facilities, and it typically employs 75 people in its service department. Liberto began as a morning hostess in one of the hotel's restaurants.

According to Richard Heubeck, the Clarion's Food and Beverage Director, Liberto " didn't seem to be happy in [the morning hostess] position." He stated that she had difficulty keeping pace with the job and that it was not a " good fit" for her. Because Liberto had previously expressed a preference for other jobs in the hotel, she was allowed to work in other departments, engaging in serving and bartending, as well as working banquets. According to Berger, the Clarion's owner, Liberto also struggled with these other jobs. As he stated, she behaved unprofessionally, clashed with other employees, disregarded Clarion policy, and responded poorly to ...


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