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THOMPSON v. CAPITOL POLICE BD.

October 26, 2000

KENNIETH F. THOMPSON, PLAINTIFF,
V.
THE CAPITOL POLICE BOARD, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Urbina, District Judge.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

GRANTING THE DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

I. INTRODUCTION

This matter comes before the court on the defendant's motion for summary judgment. The plaintiff, Kennieth F. Thompson ("the plaintiff" or "Mr. Thompson") brought this suit for damages under the Congressional Accountability Act ("CAA"), 2 U.S.C. § 1301-1438. He claims that the defendant, the United States Capitol Police ("the defendant" or "the Capitol Police"), discriminated against him on the basis of his race. Specifically, the plaintiff, who is African-American, alleges that the defendant fired him from his position as a Capitol Police officer when he was injured, while allowing similarly situated white officers to retain their jobs. Additionally, the plaintiff asserts that the defendant demonstrated a pattern and practice of racial discrimination against him or African-American employees throughout his employment.

The defendant moves for summary judgment based on lack of subject-matter jurisdiction.*fn1 The defendant claims that the plaintiff failed to exhaust his administrative remedies by failing to request counseling by the Office of Compliance within 180 days of the alleged violations, as required by the CAA. Thus, the defendant argues that the plaintiff's claims are time-barred. The plaintiff counters that the doctrine of equitable tolling should allow his claim to proceed. For the reasons that follow, the court holds that because the plaintiff presents no facts that would justify applying the doctrine of equitable tolling, his claims are time-barred. Accordingly, the court concludes that the plaintiff has failed to exhaust his administrative remedies, and will grant the defendant's motion for summary judgment. Lastly, because the court holds that it lacks subject-matter jurisdiction, the court need not address the defendant's remaining arguments.

II. BACKGROUND

Mr. Thompson, an African-American man, worked for the United States Capitol Police from 1974 until February 1997, when his employer officially terminated him. See Third Amended Complaint ("Compl.") at 2, 4-5. At the time of Mr. Thompson's termination, he held the rank of Administrative Sergeant. See id. at 2. During the plaintiff's employment with the Capitol Police, he suffered three on-the-job injuries. The first injury occurred in February 1979, when Mr. Thompson hurt his knee while pushing a scout car in the snow. See Defendant's Statement of Undisputed disputed Material Facts in Support of Its Motion For Summary Judgment ("Def.'s Statement") at 4. The second injury occurred in 1985 when a tourist drove into Mr. Thompson's scout car, injuring his left hand and knee. See id. The third injury occurred during a police demonstration in April 1993 when Mr. Thompson ruptured a tendon in his right foot. See Compl. at 7. As a result of these injuries, the plaintiff had several surgical operations, and went on both non-duty status and restricted-duty status at various times. See Def.'s Statement at 4.

On May 17, 1996, the plaintiff was diagnosed with degenerative knee problems. The plaintiff's doctor concluded that with the restrictive range of motion and limitations to the knee, Mr. Thompson could no longer safely continue regular police duties. The doctor diagnosed the plaintiff's knee problems as permanent, and informed Mr. Thompson that nothing more could be done. See Deft's Statement at 4.

In June 1996, Sergeant Wendy Clark of the Capitol Police spoke to the plaintiff about his options under United States Capitol Police General Order 2030, which states in part, "Members/employees who are unable to return to a Full Unrestricted Duty Status after a one year period in Non-Duty and/or Restricted Duty status should apply for Disability Retirement, Workers' Compensation, or Time Retirement; or they may be separated from the Department without benefits." Plaintiff's Opp'n to Mot. for Summ. J. ("Pl.'s Opp'n") at 4. On June 19, 1996, Mr. Thompson submitted a memorandum addressed to Chief Gary Abrecht requesting a transfer to the Office of Workers' Compensation Programs' (OWCP) temporary rolls. See Def's Statement at 5. Acknowledging that his injuries were work-related, the Capitol Police granted Mr. Thompson's transfer to the OWCP rolls. See Mot. for Summ. J., Ex. 2.

Next in a memorandum dated September 25, 1996, Deputy Chief Fentress A. Hickman informed Mr. Thompson that he would be transferred to the OWCP rolls after exhausting his accrued annual and compensatory leave, and that he would be placed on terminal leave effective October 1, 1996. See Deft's Statement at 6. Mr. Thompson understood that he would be separated from the rolls of the Capitol Police after he exhausted his terminal leave in February 1997. See id.; Pl.'s Opp'n at 5.

On April 1, 1997, the plaintiff requested counseling from the United States Capitol Police Board's Office of Compliance, alleging that he had suffered race-based discrimination. The plaintiff claimed that white officers who had disabilities that were similar to or more severe than his were accommodated and allowed to remain employed at full-duty status. The plaintiff also claimed that one of the reasons the Capitol Police fired him was a racially motivated desire to prevent his participation in the 1996 promotional process for Lieutenant. See Deft's Statement at 7. Furthermore, the plaintiff alleges that throughout his employment with the Capitol Police, he encountered a pattern of race-based discrimination. See Compl. at 5.

In his opposition to the defendant=s motion for summary judgment, Mr. Thompson points to several occasions in which he claims he suffered discrimination during his career. See Pl.'s Opp'n at 10-16. First, the plaintiff alleges that the defendant discriminated against him sometime in the 1970s when he applied for a position in the Firearms Section. See id. at 10. According to the plaintiff, he did not initially receive an interview, and he only subsequently received one after he spoke to a Congressman. Id. at 10. Mr. Thompson alleges that when he went for the interview, the interviewer stated something to the effect: "So you are Thompson. You are probably not qualified, but we'll do this interview." See Def's Statement at 1. Second, the plaintiff claims that in the mid to late 1970s, he took an exam to become a crime-scene search officer. According to Mr. Thompson, after he took the exam, his Captain, George Salyer, told Mr. Thompson that he thought that Mr. Thompson had received one of the highest scores on the exam, if not the highest. Subsequently, though, the crime-scene unit neither contacted the plaintiff about his exam results nor considered him for the position. See Def.'s Statement at 2.

Third, the plaintiff claims that at some point when he was a member of the patrol division, he was required to split his weekend days off with a white female officer who had less seniority than he did. See id. Fourth, the plaintiff alleges that after he had scored well on the exam to become a Detective, a supervisor disciplined him without cause to prevent him from being promoted. After speaking to the Chief of the Capitol Police about this situation, the plaintiff received a promotion to the rank of Detective. See Defs Statement at 2-3.

Fifth, Mr. Thompson alleges that during the time that he was a Sergeant between 1991 and 1995, his supervisors prevented him from disciplining white officers. The plaintiff claims that whenever he disciplined a white officer, his supervisors would not approve his actions. See Def.'s Statement at 3. Sixth, the plaintiff charges that sometime between 1993 and 1995, his Lieutenant's recommendation that he be named Sergeant of the Month was rejected, despite the ...


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