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Koch v. Walter

United States District Court, District of Columbia

March 30, 2013

RANDOLPH S. KOCH, Plaintiff,
v.
ELISSE B. WALTER, Chairman, Securities and Exchange Commission, Defendant

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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RANDOLPH S. KOCH, Plaintiff, Pro se, Rockville, MD.

For MARY L. SCHAPIRO, in her capacity as Chairman, United States Securities and Exchange Commission, Defendant: Fred Elmore Haynes, LEAD ATTORNEY, U.S. ATTORNEY'S OFFICE, Washington, DC.

OPINION

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PAUL L. FRIEDMAN, United States District Judge.

This matter is before the Court on defendant's motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(1) and Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure or, in the alternative, for summary judgment. Plaintiff Randolph S. Koch has charged his employer, the Securities and Exchange Commission (" SEC" ), with violating various employment discrimination statutes when it allegedly denied his disability accommodation requests, refused to permit him to enter certain leave programs, and failed to handle his requests promptly. The SEC contends that Mr. Koch failed to exhaust his administrative remedies by not appealing the agency's final decision to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (" EEOC" ), and that he therefore cannot bring these claims in federal court. After careful consideration of the parties' papers, the relevant legal authorities, and the entire record in this case, the Court will grant the defendant's motion. [1]

I. BACKGROUND

Randolph S. Koch worked as a financial analyst at the SEC from 1991 until 2009. Compl. ¶ ¶ 4, 8. Mr. Koch is a white, Jewish male over the age of forty, and he asserts that he suffers from a variety of disabling medical conditions. Id. ¶ 6. Based on these protected statuses, he has initiated numerous administrative and civil proceedings against the SEC and other government agencies for alleged violations of the Rehabilitation Act, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (" ADEA" ), and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Id. ¶ 7; see also Koch v. Holder, 930 F.Supp.2d 14, 2013 WL 953368 (D.D.C. Mar. 13, 2013); Koch v. Schapiro, 759 F.Supp.2d 67

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(D.D.C. 2011); Koch v. Schapiro, 699 F.Supp.2d 3 (D.D.C. 2010); Koch v. Donaldson, 260 F.Supp.2d 86 (D.D.C. 2003). The present action arises from Mr. Koch's requests to his employer for accommodations for his health problems, and the agency's denial of these requests.

In October 2008, Mr. Koch began an extended leave from his work at the SEC. Compl. ¶ ¶ 28, 37; Funciello Decl. Ex. 11 at 3. On January 1, 2009, Mr. Koch submitted an Accommodations Request Form to the Disability Program Office. Funciello Decl. Ex. 11 at 3. In support of his request, he provided letters from two doctors and a copy of a medical report. Id. The Office forwarded this documentation, along with a copy of Koch's job description, to a physician with the Federal Occupational Health Service, who, after reviewing this information and consulting with Mr. Koch's physicians, provided a written assessment finding no present reason why Mr. Koch was unable to work. Id. at 3-4. The agency denied Mr. Koch's accommodation requests on March 16, 2009. Id. at 4. Mr. Koch claims that he submitted a second accommodation request, with additional medical information, on February 2, 2009. Compl. ¶ 57. The SEC's March 16, 2009 letter does not address this second request. Id. ¶ 64; see also Funciello Decl. Ex. 11. In addition, in early 2009, Mr. Koch requested information from the SEC relating to advanced annual leave, sick leave, and the agency's leave transfer program, but, according to Mr. Koch, he did not receive this information in a timely manner. Compl. ¶ 66; see Funciello Decl. ¶ 2 at 2 (discussing Jan. 29, 2009 email from Koch to Associate Executive Director of Office of Human Resources (" OHR" )).

In response to the SEC's actions, Mr. Koch decided to avail himself of the negotiated grievance procedure contained in the Collective Bargaining Agreement (" CBA" ) entered into by the SEC and his union, the National Treasury Employees Union (" Union" ). Def.'s Stmt. Mat. Facts ¶ ¶ 1-2; see Funciello Decl. Ex. 1. The CBA provides for an escalating review of an employee's grievances at different management levels within the agency. Funciello Decl. Ex. 1. If the agency and the employee cannot resolve the dispute after three " steps" of review, the Union may invoke arbitration on behalf of the employee. Id.

On March 27, 2009, Mr. Koch filed a Step One Grievance pursuant to the CBA's negotiated grievance procedure. Compl. ¶ 65; Def.'s Stmt. Mat. Facts ¶ 3. In his grievance, Mr. Koch asserted that the SEC violated the Rehabilitation Act, Title VII, and the ADEA by (i) neglecting to timely process his request for information relating to annual and sick leave policies and the agency's leave transfer program, and (ii) failing to follow the procedures posted on the SEC's intranet for disability accommodation requests. Def.'s Stmt. Mat. Facts ¶ 3; Funciello Decl. Ex. 2 ¶ 4.

One week later, on April 3, 2009, Mr. Koch filed a second Step One Grievance. Def.'s Stmt. Mat. Facts ¶ 4; Funciello Decl. Ex. 3. In this second grievance, Mr. Koch asserted that the SEC violated the Rehabilitation Act, Title VII, and the ADEA by (i) concluding that he did not suffer from a disability, and (ii) failing to request and consider medical information necessary to properly evaluate his accommodation request. Def.'s Stmt. Mat. Facts ¶ 4; Funciello Decl. Ex. 3. On May 8, 2009, Carol Hallowell, OHR Branch Chief, denied the March 27, 2009 and April 3, 2009 Step One Grievances. Def.'s Stmt. Mat. Facts ¶ 5; Funciello Decl. Exs. 4 and 5. Mr. Koch and the Union then submitted Step Two Grievances, stating that they were not satisfied with the Step One decisions. Def.'s Stmt. Mat. Facts ¶ 6; Funciello Decl. Exs. 6 and 7. These Step Two

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Grievances were denied by Teri Ellison, OHR Assistant Director, on July 21, 2009. Def.'s Stmt. Mat. Facts ¶ 7; Funciello Decl. Exs. 8 and 9. On July 22, 2009, Mr. Koch and the Union submitted Step Three Grievances; these grievances were denied by Jeffrey Risinger, OHR Associate Executive Director, on August 11, 2009. Def.'s Stmt. Mat. Facts ¶ ¶ 8-9; Funciello Decl. Exs. 10-13. The Union declined to invoke arbitration on either of the ...


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