The opinion of the court was delivered by: RICARDO URBINA, District Judge
GRANTING THE DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT
This matter is before the Court on the defendants' motion to
dismiss or, in the alternative, for summary judgment. Having
considered the motion, the plaintiff's opposition, the
defendants' reply, and the existing record of this case, the
Court will grant summary judgment for the defendants.
The plaintiff, a former employee of the United States Postal
Service (hereinafter "the defendant"), suffered an on-the-job
back injury on November 23, 1998 when she tripped over a box .
Defs.' Mot. to Dismiss, or in the Alternative, for Summ. J.
("Defs.' Mot."), Ex. 2 (Notice of Traumatic Injury and Claim for
Continuation of Pay/Compensation). She was diagnosed with "lumbar
disc syndrome." Id., Ex. 3 (Duty Status Report). By letter, the
Labor Department's Office of Workers' Compensation Programs informed the plaintiff
that it had accepted her claim. Defs.' Mot., Ex. 4 (letter dated
January 13, 1999 from Claims Examiner, Employment Standards
Administration, Office of Workers' Compensation Programs,
Division of Federal Employees' Compensation) at 1. Attached to
the letter was a two-page document explaining, among other
things, the plaintiff's obligation to notify the office of her
return to work. Id. at 3. In relevant part, the document
When you return to work, or obtain new employment,
notify this office right away. If you receive a
compensation check which includes payment for a
period you have worked, return it to us immediately
to prevent overpayment of compensation.
The plaintiff's physician placed her on temporary total
disability from December 2, 1998 through March 18, 1999.*fn1
Defs.' Mot., Ex. 5 (Investigative Memorandum dated September 9,
1999) at 1. During that time, the plaintiff received continuation
of pay and loss of wage compensation from the Department of
Labor. Id. On February 11, 1999, the plaintiff was placed on
the periodic roll.*fn2 Id. She began to receive regular
compensation payments beginning February 27, 1999. Id. She
returned to work on partial disability status on March 23,
The plaintiff did not notify the Office of Workers'
Compensation Programs of her return to work on March 23, 1999.
Defs.' Mot., Ex. 6 (Notice of Removal). Review of the plaintiff's wage earnings and compensation history revealed that, for the
period from March 27, 1999, through August 13, 1999, the
plaintiff received both regular wages and compensation
benefits.*fn4 Id., Ex. 5 at 1. Because receipt of both
wages and compensation checks violated Section 666.2 of the
Employee and Labor Relations Manual, the defendant issued the
plaintiff a Notice of Removal on November 20, 1999.*fn5
According to the defendant, the plaintiff was terminated for
"unacceptable conduct," in that she "improperly accepted and
cashed [workers' compensation benefit] checks with the knowledge
that she had no reasonable right to do so." See Defs.' Mot.,
Ex. 1. The plaintiff challenged her termination by pursuing a
discrimination claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity
Commission ("EEOC"). Compl., Ex. 1 (EEOC's Denial of Request for
Reconsideration). An administrative law judge found that the
plaintiff failed to establish a prima facie case of
discrimination on the basis of her disabilities (back injury and
major depression/stress). Id.
The plaintiff brings this action under the Rehabilitation Act
of 1973 ("Rehabilitation Act"), see 29 U.S.C. § 791 et
seq.*fn6 Among other things, she demands reinstatement to
her former position and a retroactive award of pay and benefits. III. DISCUSSION
Summary judgment is granted to the movant if he has shown, when
the facts are viewed in the light most favorable to the
non-movant, that there are no genuine issues of material fact in
dispute and that the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter
of law. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317 (1986);
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). A material fact is one "that might affect the
outcome of the suit under the governing law." Anderson v.
Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). When evaluating a
summary judgment motion, "[c]redibility determinations, the
weighing of the evidence, and the drawing of legitimate
inferences from the facts are jury functions, not those of a
judge." Id. at 255; Reeves v. Sanderson Plumbing Products,
Inc., 530 U.S. 133, 150 (2000). The party opposing a motion for
summary judgment "may not rest upon the mere allegations or
denials of his pleading, but . . . must set forth specific facts
showing that there is a genuine issue for trial." Anderson v.
Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. at 248; see also Jackson v.
Finnegan, Henderson, Farabow, Garrett & Dunner, 101 F.3d 145,
150 (D.C. Cir. 1996).
B. The Plaintiff Fails to Establish a Discriminatory Reason for
In relevant part, the Rehabilitation Act provides that:
No otherwise qualified individual with a disability
in the United States . . . shall, solely by reason of
her or his disability, be excluded from the
participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be
subjected to discrimination under any program or
activity receiving Federal financial assistance or
under any program or activity conducted by any
Executive agency or by the United States Postal
29 U.S.C. § 794(a). Under the Rehabilitation Act, an "individual
with a disability" is a person who "has a physical or mental
impairment which substantially limits one or more of such person's major life activities." 29 U.S.C. § 705(20)(B)(i). In
determining whether an employer violates the Rehabilitation Act,
the standards applied are those applied under Title I of the
Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 ("ADA"), see
42 U.S.C. §§ 12111 et seq., as it relates to employment. See
29 U.S.C. § 794(d).
The term "disability" is defined by regulation as "[a] physical
or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more of the
major life activities of such individual."*fn7
29 C.F.R. § 1630.2(g)(1). "Major life activities" are defined as "functions,
such as caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, walking,
seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning, and working."
29 C.F.R. § 1630.2(i). The plaintiff appears to allege that the
defendant violated ...