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Marshall v. Potter

July 14, 2009


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Ellen Segal Huvelle United States District Judge


Plaintiff Jasmine Marshall has brought this action pro se alleging that her former employer, the United States Postal Service, discriminated against her, subjected her to harassment, and retaliated against her because of her disability.*fn1 Defendants have moved for summary judgment on all of plaintiff's claims. For the reasons set forth below, the Court will grant defendants' motion.


On April 1, 2006, plaintiff began working as a part-time flexible letter carrier with the postal service on a 90-day probationary basis. (See Defs.' Mot. for Summ. J. [Summ. J. Mot.] Ex. A; Opp'n Ex. 5.) At all times relevant to this matter, plaintiff worked at the Buckingham Station in Arlington, Virginia, and her immediate supervisor was Neko Santacruz. (See Summ. J. Mot. Exs. A, B, E.)

On May 19, 2006, plaintiff was injured when she hit her right knee on the postal truck.

(See Compl. at 1; Summ. J. Mot. Exs. G, H.) Plaintiff submitted a U.S. Department of Labor Form CA-17, Duty Status Report, dated that same day in which a physician diagnosed her as having suffered a "contusion" (bruise), "mild edema" (swelling) and "anterior tenderness" in her right knee. (Summ. J. Mot. Ex. H.) The physician indicated that plaintiff could work subject to certain medical restrictions for the next two days and would be able to return to regular duty on May 22, 2006. (Id.) Specifically, for two days following her injury, plaintiff could lift or carry no more than five pounds continuously and 15 pounds intermittently and could not stand, walk, kneel, bend, or stoop.*fn2 (Id.) According to the Duty Status Report, plaintiff's job usually required her to lift or carry up to 10 pounds continuously and up to 40 pounds intermittently, to stand continuously for seven hours per day, walk continuously for five hours per day, kneel intermittently for one hour per day, bend or stoop intermittently for three hours per day, and drive a vehicle intermittently for five hours. (Id.) At plaintiff's 30-day evaluation dated the same day as the accident, Santacruz rated plaintiff's work performance as "unacceptable" in four of six categories: work quantity, work quality, dependability, and work relations. (Id. Ex. C.) Plaintiff's work performance was rated "satisfactory" in two categories: work methods and personal conduct. (Id.)

On May 25, 2006, Santacruz assigned plaintiff a rigorous mail route "knowing [her] limits." (Compl. at 1.) That same day, plaintiff was again examined by a physician, who completed a Duty Status Report indicating that plaintiff could lift or carry no more than 10 pounds continuously and 20 pounds intermittently, could stand or walk continuously for up to two hours per day, could not kneel, and could drive a vehicle intermittently for up to two hours per day. (Summ. J. Mot. Ex. I.) The report stated that plaintiff could perform all other activities to the extent required by the job. (See id.) From May 25 to June 24, 2006, plaintiff was assigned to work only 20 hours per week. (Compl. at 1.)

On June 1, 2006 and June 3, 2006, plaintiff was absent from work without leave. (See Summ. J. Mot. Ex. E at 15-16.) Moreover, over a two-week period beginning June 5, 2006, plaintiff was late for work six times.*fn3 (Id. Ex. E at 16-17, 19-20.) At her 60-day evaluation on June 5, 2006, Santacruz rated plaintiff's work performance as "unacceptable" in all categories. (Id. Ex. C.)

Following an examination by her physician on June 19, 2006, plaintiff was cleared to return to regular duty with no restrictions as of June 20, 2006. (Id. Ex. K.)

By letter dated June 21, 2006, Santacruz terminated plaintiff due to her "unsatisfactory ratings in the categories of safety and attendance." (Id. Ex. N.) Her last day in pay status was June 24, 2006. (Id. Ex. A at 2.) On that day, Santacruz completed plaintiff's 80-day evaluation, again rating her performance as "unacceptable" in all categories. (Id. Ex. C.) Thereafter, on July 17, 2006, plaintiff contacted an Equal Employment Opportunity ("EEO") counselor for the postal service, alleging discrimination based on her physical disability, harassment, and retaliation. (Reply Ex. 1; see also Summ. J. Mot. Ex. O at 1.)


I.Standard of Review

A party is entitled to summary judgment if the pleadings 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 judgment as a matter of law. Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c). Material facts are those that "might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). The party seeking summary judgment bears the initial burden of demonstrating the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). In considering whether there is a triable issue of fact, the Court must draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the non-moving party. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255. The party opposing a motion for summary judgment, however, "may not rely merely on allegations or denials in its own pleading; rather, its response must . . . set out specific facts showing a genuine issue for trial." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(e)(2). The non-moving party must do more than simply "show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts." Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., Ltd. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986). Moreover, "any factual assertions in the movant's affidavits will be accepted as being true unless [the opposing party] submits his own affidavits or other documentary evidence contradicting the assertion." Neal v. Kelly, 963 F.2d 453, 456 (D.C. Cir.1992) (quoting Lewis v. Faulkner, 689 F.2d 100, 102 (7th Cir. 1982)). In this case, plaintiff is proceeding pro se. While "complaints or motions drafted by pro se plaintiffs are held to 'less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers,'" Shankar v. ACS-GSI, 258 Fed. Appx. 344, 345 (D.C. Cir. 2007) (quoting Greenhill v. Spellings, 482 F.3d 569, 572 (D.C. Cir. 2007)), a pro se ...

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