Viewing this evidence in the light most favorable to the non-movant Plaintiff, the Court simply cannot find any support for the Plaintiff's claim that her anemia substantially limits one or more of her major life activities, such as caring for herself, performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning and working. 29 C.F.R. § 1614.203 (a)(3). The Court finds that this standard requires more than a showing that the Plaintiff has a blood condition which may cause the Plaintiff to become drowsy and which may have caused her to fall asleep at one meeting during the whole of her tenure of employment with the Defendant. Indeed, of the list of "major life functions" set forth in the Code of Federal Regulations, the only function which the Court could imagine might arguably be impaired by Dr. Castle's anemia is her ability to work -- but the Plaintiff herself testified that she only fell asleep at one meeting, and that her anemia has never interfered with her ability to work. No reasonable jury could find that Dr. Castle's condition otherwise meets the clear legal standard for a handicap. Accordingly, the Court shall grant the Defendant's Motion with respect to the Plaintiff's claim under the Rehabilitation Act.
The Court finds, however, that the Defendant's Motion must be denied with respect to the Plaintiff's sex discrimination and retaliation claims. In order to set forth a prima facie case of retaliation under Title VII, the Plaintiff must show (1) that she engaged in a statutorily protected activity; (2) that the employer took an adverse personnel action; and (3) that a causal connection existed between the two. Mitchell v. Baldrige, 245 U.S. App. D.C. 60, 759 F.2d 80, 81 (D.C. Cir. 1985). "This initial burden is not great. Plaintiff merely needs to establish facts adequate to permit an inference of retaliatory motive." Id.
In the instant case, the Defendant argues that the Plaintiff has failed to produce sufficient evidence with respect to the third prong -- the causal connection -- by which a reasonable jury could find for the Plaintiff on her reprisal claim. However, the Mitchell Court went on to state that the causal connection component may be established by showing that the employer had knowledge of the employee's protected activity, and that the adverse personnel action took place shortly after that activity. Id. In Mitchell, the Court of Appeals found that a three month span between the Plaintiff's filing of an EEO Complaint and his suspension was sufficient to establish a causal connection. In the instant case, it appears from Dr. Castle's testimony that she contacted Glenda Cross in the Spring of 1991 -- though this is not clear -- and that she authorized Glenda Cross to speak to Paul Barsnica about her complaint "in the fall." Castle Declaration at 20. Dr. Castle further testified that she was terminated in January.
The Court observes that, if Paul Barsnica was indeed notified of Dr. Castle's discussion with Glenda Cross in the fall of 1991, her discharge in January 1992 would have been approximately three to five months later. Under Mitchell, this time period establishes a causal connection and prima facie case sufficient to go to the jury. Accordingly, the Court finds that, viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the Plaintiff, and in view of the holding in Mitchell, the Defendant's Motion for Judgment as a Matter of Law with respect to the Plaintiff's reprisal claim must be denied.
With respect to the Plaintiff's claim of sex discrimination under Title VII, the Court finds that the Plaintiff has produced sufficient evidence by which a reasonable jury could find in her favor. Accordingly, the Court shall deny the Defendant's Motion for Judgment as a Matter of Law regarding that claim. On this issue, the Court credits the testimony of Dr. Castle, Anita Nicole Colbart and Marilyn Durbart with respect to the statements and actions of Paul Barsnica, to the extent that such testimony is legally sufficient to support the Plaintiff's prima facie case of sex discrimination as well as her burden of showing that the Defendant's legitimate non-discriminatory reasons for dismissing Dr. Castle were pretextual. See St. Mary's Honor Center v. Hicks, 125 L. Ed. 2d 407, 113 S. Ct. 2742 (1993). The Court finds that the factual question of whether the Defendant was motivated by sexually discriminatory animus in dismissing Dr. Castle is one which the jury must decide.
Accordingly, it is, by the Court, this 2nd day of November, 1994,
ORDERED that the Defendant's Motion for Judgment as a Matter of Law with respect to the Plaintiff's claim under the Rehabilitation Act shall be, and hereby is, GRANTED; and it is
FURTHER ORDERED that the Defendant's Motion for Judgment as a Matter of Law with respect to the Plaintiff's claim of retaliation under Title VII shall be, and hereby is, DENIED; and it is
FURTHER ORDERED that the Defendant's Motion for Judgment as a Matter of Law with respect to the Plaintiff's claim of sex discrimination under Title VII shall be and hereby is, DENIED.
CHARLES R. RICHEY
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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