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WELSING v. GOVERNMENT OF THE DIST. OF COLUMBIA

February 25, 1992

FRANCES CRESS WELSING, M.D., Plaintiff,
v.
GOVERNMENT OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, ROBERT A. WASHINGTON, BETTY KING, JANICE HUTCHINSON, M.D., ROBERT STASKO, M.D., CLOVER ARTHUR-ELLIS, M.D. MAREASA ISSACS, and NANCY WARE, Defendants.


Sporkin


The opinion of the court was delivered by: STANLEY SPORKIN

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

 This action comes before the Court on the Defendants' motion for Summary Judgment. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c). Plaintiff Frances Welsing was formerly a psychiatrist employed by the District of Columbia's Commission on Mental Health Services ("CMHS") at the Paul Robeson School. Defendants are the District of Columbia and seven officers of the CMHS. Plaintiff alleges that the Defendants discriminated against her on the basis of her political views, race, gender, age, and handicap. She brings this action claiming Defendants deprived her of her rights under 18 U.S.C. §§ 1983, 1985, and 1986 and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act ("ADEA"). 29 U.S.C. § 621, Because there are no issues of material fact and Defendants are entitled to judgment as a matter of law, the Defendants' motion for Summary Judgment will be granted and this case will be dismissed with prejudice.

 BACKGROUND

 In deciding a motion for summary judgment a district court must view the available evidence in a light most favorable to the non-moving party. Adickes v. Kress & Co., 398 U.S. 144, 157, 26 L. Ed. 2d 142 , 90 S. Ct. 1598 (1970). Therefore, for the purposes of this motion, the Court will accept the following facts.

 Plaintiff is an African-American woman who worked as a psychiatrist for the District of Columbia from 1968 until 1991. During that period Plaintiff was employed at the Paul Robeson School. Her primary duties were the treatment and care of children at Robeson and the supervision of more junior members of the psychiatric staff there. Eventually, she assumed the informal rank of "Clinical Director." In the 1970's Plaintiff began actively advocating for the rights of African-Americans, both as staff members and patients at the Paul Robeson School. Prior to 1987 Plaintiff received excellent performance ratings. During that time the Robeson School was under the auspices of the Mental Health Services Administration ("MHSA"). Plaintiff's supervisor during that time was Program Manager Paul Worthy.

 In 1987, the MHSA and the federally funded Saint Elizabeth's Hospital were merged, and Robeson became part of the CMHS' division of the Child and Youth Services Administration ("CYSA"). Shortly thereafter, Mr. Worthy was transferred to Saint Elizabeth's, and Defendant Nancy Ware replaced him as Program Manager at Robeson. Plaintiff's working relationship with Ware was not as good as her relationship with Worthy had been. See Plaintiff's Affidavit at para. 9. There was conflict between them as to their respective supervisory authority. Id. In addition, in 1988 there was an accreditation review of Robeson. After that review, the CYSA sent Plaintiff a memorandum describing her job performance as "inefficient, inexcusably neglectful of duty, and insubordinate." Defendants' Exhibit B at 1, In specific, the memorandum criticized Plaintiff's low caseload and her poor record keeping concerning psychiatric treatment. Plaintiff's situation at work continued to deteriorate as her previously diagnosed cancer forced her to take substantial sick leave. On February 13, 1990, Plaintiff received a memorandum from Ware informing her that within the CYSA programs, the position of "Clinical Director" did not exist and that "Overall direction" at Robeson was Ware's responsibility as Program Manager. Affidavit of Beatrice Smith at para. 4; Exhibit 2 to Smith Affidavit.

 On February 21, 1990 Plaintiff filed a union grievance alleging "ongoing and escalating harassment" since 1987. The gravamen of that complaint was the same alleged harassment as forms the basis of this case. Plaintiff demanded "restoration" to her position as "Clinical Director," return of all sick leave, and "other compensation." Defendants' Exhibit A. Contemporaneously, Plaintiff filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission alleging discrimination on the basis of race, color, gender, and age. *fn1" She continued working at Robeson for the next year.

 On March 29, 1991, however, Plaintiff appeared at the CMHS personnel office requesting early retirement pursuant to the Special Option Voluntary Retirement Authorization program (the "Early Out" program). Early Out retirement was a limited program which was available to limited District of Columbia employees only until March 31, 1991, two days after Plaintiff appeared at the personnel office.

 Plaintiff, because of her position as a medical officer, was not eligible for Early Out retirement. The Personnel Department advised Plaintiff of this fact, but Plaintiff determined that she wished to pursue a negotiated option which would avail her of the right to early retirement. To that end, Plaintiff entered into a settlement of her labor grievance charging harassment by the Defendants in this suit. Plaintiff agreed to withdraw her claim in return for an immediate reassignment to the position of Health Systems Specialist. See Affidavit of Frankie T. Wheeler at para. 2; Exhibit 2 to Affidavit of Frankie T. Wheeler. That position carried with it eligibility for the Early Out benefits Plaintiff desired. Pursuant to the settlement, Dr. Welsing's request for early retirement benefits was processed on March 29, 1991, two days before the program expired. Id. Plaintiff's EEO complaint was dismissed for failure to provide adequate information to the EEOC. The District subsequently provided Plaintiff with early retirement benefits. Ignoring her settlement, Plaintiff brought this action in federal court alleging discrimination and harassment over the same period covered by her settlement and asking that she be reinstated to her previous position as a medical officer with supervisory duties and be given backpay.

 DISCUSSION

 A. The Standard for Summary Judgment.

 Summary judgment may be granted to the moving party if "the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to summary judgment as a matter of law."

 Fed. R. Civ. P. 56 (c). Under Celotex Corporation v. Garret, 106 S. Ct. 2548, 2553 (1986), summary judgment is appropriate "against a party who fails to make a showing sufficient to establish an element essential to that party's case and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial." A party opposing summary judgment may not rest on the mere allegations as stated in the pleadings but rather must set forth specific facts to show that there is evidence sufficient for it to prevail at trail. "If the evidence is merely colorable . . . summary judgment may be granted." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, 477 U.S. 242, 248-250, 91 L. Ed. 2d ...


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