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Coles v. Perry

June 25, 2003


The opinion of the court was delivered by: John M. Facciola United States Magistrate Judge


I herein resolve defendant's Motion to Dismiss and for Summary Judgment. For the reasons set forth below, defendant's motion for summary judgment will be denied in part and granted in part.


1. On July 29, 1991, Karen A. Coles ("plaintiff"), began working as a Criminal Investigator GS-1811-13 or Grade 13 Special Agent, in the Office of Inspector General ("OIG") of the General Services Administration ("GSA" or"defendant"). Plaintiff was assigned to defendant's headquarters in Washington, D.C. and reported directly to Deputy Assistant Inspectors General for Investigations Albert Puglia and Gregory Seybold, and Assistant Inspector General for Investigations James Henderson.

2. On November 11, 1996, plaintiff suffered an injury while at work. Plaintiff was approved to receive Federal Employee's Workers Compensation benefits from January 5, 1998, to July 25, 1998. Plaintiff was also approved for sick leave from December 4, 1996, to January 6, 1997. Upon her return from sick leave, plaintiff was slated for reassignment to one of defendant's nine regional field offices. Plaintiff was also limited to light duty pending her surgery on April 23, 1997.

3. On January 14, 1997, upon learning of her pending reassignment to defendant's Washington, D.C. Field Office, plaintiff sought informal counseling from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). She alleged that Deputy Inspector General Joel Gallay, Assistant Inspector General for Inspections James Henderson ("Henderson"), and Deputy Assistant Inspector General for Investigations Gregory Seybold had discriminated against plaintiff on account of her race, sex, and temporary disability by reassigning her to the Washington Field Office under the immediate supervision of Regional Inspector General Thurman Dutton ("Dutton"), an African American, in order to facilitate her removal. On March 24, 1997, plaintiff's Equal Employment Opportunity ("EEO") counselor issued a report, but plaintiff did not pursue the issue further.

4. On August 18, 1997, Dutton gave plaintiff a summary performance rating of"3" for the 1996-1997 cycle. On September 2, 1997, plaintiff filed an internal grievance report with defendant, challenging her appraisal. Following the filing of plaintiff's grievance, plaintiff was detailed to the General Accounting Office ("GAO") from November 24, 1997, to June 12, 1998. During her detail at GAO, plaintiff's performance was rated as"Outstanding."

5. On January 5, 1998, while plaintiff was still detailed at GAO, Dr. Anthony Caputy, plaintiff's orthopedic surgeon, determined that she was able to return to full duty without qualification. On May 15, 1998, plaintiff was asked to take a fitness for duty examination, which was scheduled for May 20, 1998, with Dr. Samuel Scott. On May 20, 1998, Dr. Scott issued his report. Plaintiff was cleared, without qualification, for return to duty as a Special Agent.

6. On June 12, 1998, Dr. John Starr, another orthopedic surgeon who operated on plaintiff, issued a report recommending that plaintiff be allowed to postpone her participation in a Defensive Tactics Training ("DTT") session that was scheduled for June 17-18, 1998. Plaintiff did not participate in the DTT session and was ultimately placed on administrative leave.

7. On June 30, 1998, in response to defendant's request for additional information regarding plaintiff's physical condition, Dr. Scott indicated that plaintiff was cleared to resume assumption of the duties of her position as a Special Agent as long as she refrained from participating in training exercises that involved kicks to the back, torso, or legs.

8. On September 17, 1998, plaintiff formally requested a transfer from Dutton's regional office back to defendant's headquarters. Four days later, plaintiff's request was denied.

9. On September 22, 1998, in response to another request from defendant for additional information about plaintiff's physical condition, Dr. Starr indicated that plaintiff was fully capable of resuming her duties as a Special Agent.

10. On or about October 2, 1998, defendant asked Dr. Bruce Butler to evaluate plaintiff's physical condition.

11. On October 16, 1998, plaintiff again formally requested a transfer to headquarters. That request was subsequently denied.

12. On October 28, 1998, Dr. Butler issued a report on plaintiff's condition, concluding that she was incapable of returning to full duty as a GS-1811 Special Agent.

13. On November 30, 1998, plaintiff filed a formal EEO complaint.

14. On January 22, 1999, defendant proposed reassigning plaintiff to another position.

15. On February 24, 1999, Dutton told plaintiff about an opening for a Grade 14 Special Agent position. ...

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