United States District Court, D. Massachusetts
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER ON DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO
DISMISS FOR FAILURE TO STATE A CLAIM
Dennis Saylor IV United States District Judge
case arises out of the termination of a library employee.
Plaintiff Kemal Bozkurt was employed at the Lawrence Public
Library for 18 years, eventually rising to the position of
Assistant Director. In early 2017, he was issued warnings by
his supervisor for insubordination and abuse of authority.
Later that year, he appeared before the library's Board
of Trustees for a disciplinary hearing. He was then dismissed
for deficient performance.
filed suit, asserting three claims that all allege, in
substance, that defendant the City of Lawrence violated
Section 4 of the municipal administrative code by failing to
make a “reasonable effort” to correct his
performance before dismissing him. Defendant has moved to
dismiss the complaint for failure to state a claim upon which
relief can be granted. For the following reasons, the motion
will be granted.
facts are set forth as described in the complaint and
Bozkurt began working for the Lawrence Public Library as an
Assistant Librarian on August 30, 1999. (Compl. ¶ 3). He
was promoted to Assistant Director in January 2015 and became
Acting Director in September 2015. (Id.). Soon
after, he returned to his position of Assistant Director
after a permanent Director, Jessica Valentin, was hired.
March 29, 2017, Bozkurt received a “warning
letter” from Valentin. (Compl. Ex. A).
letter stated that Bozkurt had received a “verbal
warning for insubordination for failure to acknowledge and/or
meet [Valentin's] request for meetings.”
(Id.). It described the
“insubordination” as follows:
On two occasions, you were sent meeting requests via email to
meet with your supervisor and failed to comply. On the first
occasion, you did not acknowledge the meeting invitation but
later cited that you were ‘working the second
shift.' On the second occasion, today, you acknowledged
the meeting request but once again cited that you were
‘working the second shift' and responded by saying
we could meet during the timeframe you proposed. Furthermore,
your reason for not being able to meet with me due to you
scheduling yourself for later in the day is not consistent
with your text communication today stating that you were at
an appointment in Manchester and might be in a little late.
(Id.). Valentin further warned that Bozkurt, as
Assistant Director, was expected to “make [himself]
available for regular meetings and special requested
meetings.” (Id.). In addition, she stated that
“as a salaried employee, [Bozkurt was] expected to work
outside of a regular hourly schedule and make every attempt
to meet requests made by [Valentin].” (Id.).
The letter concluded by indicating that Valentin
“agreed to meet with [Bozkurt] on a bi-weekly basis to
provide feedback & guidance.” (Id.). On
April 5, 2017, Bozkurt signed the letter acknowledging that
he had received the warning. (Id.) However, the
complaint adds that Bozkurt sent Valentin an email
“reminding her that he was working second shift and she
agreed.” (Compl. ¶ 8).
sent Bozkurt a second “warning letter” on April
18, 2017. (Compl. Ex. B). The letter stated that Bozkurt had
committed an “abuse of power.” (Id.).
Specifically, the letter stated:
On Friday, April 7, you made me aware via email that
you'd be using flextime on Wednesday, April 12 morning
and would be coming in at 1:00 p.m. You mentioned that Elvin
Fabian [a subordinate employee] had cancelled an appointment
and would be available to cover you. On Tuesday, April 11 . .
. I . . . asked for a confirmation that you'd be in at
1:00 p.m. the following day. You hesitated and said that
you'd try to be here at that time. On Wednesday, April 12
morning, you texted me to inform me that your uncle had
passed away and that you wouldn't be coming in at all.
[Later], I called the front desk to inform the staff that I
was on my way and to get a heads up if anyone called out sick
for coverage purposes. [Fabian] informed me that he noticed
you were out and then made the following connection: [h]e
said that you called him on his day off on Friday, April 7
and asked him to change his medical appointment because he
was ‘really needed at work on Wednesday.' He did
not know the reason but complied with your request. On
Wednesday, he understood that you had him change his
approved time off to accommodate your schedule which as an
administrator, is an abuse of power.
(Id.). Moreover, the letter stated that while
Bozkurt had been approved to take time off on April 13 and
14, 2017, he had failed to ensure that someone would cover
his payroll duties for those days. (Id.). In
response, Bozkurt stated that the library had historically
been “flexible” in changing schedules and that he
directed Fabian to work on April 12 to ensure that there was
coverage in the morning that day. (Compl. ¶ 14). ...