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Morris v. Jackson

United States District Court, D. Columbia.

October 30, 2013

CONNIE K. MORRIS, Plaintiff,
v.
LISA P. JACKSON, Defendant

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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For CONNIE K. MORRIS, Plaintiff: Theodore S. Allison, LEAD ATTORNEY, KARR & ALLISON, P.C., Washington, DC.

For LISA P. JACKSON, Administrator, United States Environmental Protection Agency, Defendant: Judith A. Kidwell, LEAD ATTORNEY, U.S. ATTORNEY'S OFFICE, Civil Division, Washington, DC; Rudolph Contreras, LEAD ATTORNEY, U.S. ATTORNEYS OFFICE, Washington, DC.

OPINION

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MEMORANDUM OPINION

RICHARD W. ROBERTS, Chief United States District Judge.

Plaintiff Connie Morris brings this action under the Rehabilitation Act, 29 U.S.C. § 701 et seq. against her former employer, the Environmental Protection Agency (" EPA" ), alleging that the EPA discriminated against her based on disability, failed to accommodate her disability, and retaliated against her for complaining about it. The EPA has moved for summary judgment. Because no material facts are in dispute and the EPA has shown that it is entitled to judgment as a matter of law on Morris' complaint, the motion for summary judgment will be granted.

BACKGROUND

Morris suffers from a disability she describes as a " yeast sensitivity" that has caused her to have allergic reactions after being exposed to small concentrations of yeast or other molds. Am. Compl. ¶ ¶ 12-13. From January 2003 through March 2007, Morris was employed by the EPA as a Technical Information Specialist for the Federal Register Staff of the EPA's Office of Program Management Operations. Def.'s Stmt. of Mat. Facts (" Def.'s Stmt." ) ¶ ¶ 1-2; Pl.'s Stmt. of Mat. Facts (" Pl.'s Stmt." ) ¶ ¶ 1-2. Morris's position description set forth her duties and placement. She was required to " provide leadership in executing editorial policy and priorities" by coordinating document preparation efforts that were necessary to implement the provisions of federal legislation that the EPA's Office of Prevention, Pollution, and Toxic Substances (" OPPTS" ) administers and enforces. Def.'s Mot. for Summ. J. (" Def.'s Mot." ), Ex. F (" Position Description" ) at 1; Am. Compl. ¶ 10. Morris was expected to provide training, assistance and guidance to EPA personnel who were working with regulatory documents, and to respond immediately to questions about the location and status of OPPTS documents that were being circulated for signature. Position Description at 1; Def.'s Stmt. ¶ ¶ 6-9; Am. Compl. ¶ 10. Morris' work was " work station oriented," and she was assigned to the 6109 Connecting Wing Space known as " EPA West," an area where 18 other EPA employees worked. Position Description at 1; Def.'s Stmt. ¶ ¶ 5, 10.

Morris was directly supervised by the Director of the Federal Register Staff, John Richards, and indirectly supervised by the Associate Assistant Administrator of the OPPTS, Marylouise Uhlig. Def.'s Stmt. ¶ ¶ 3-4. According to Richards, it was " necessary" for Morris to work at an EPA work site.

[Morris] was part of a team. In that role, she was critical to the development of the authoring tools that we were preparing for the entire program. She had to interface with other people. She was critical in the recruitment of C-programmers, because we didn't have any other programmers on staff, and these people were supposed to assist [Morris] in the programming work she was doing. In addition to that, there was a need for her to help bring people along in the process and help support the staff. I mean, she would help people when they had computer problems; she did a lot of different things within the office. In keeping her within the EPA transportation system, it allowed me to send people to wherever [Morris] was, if necessary, to work with her. Once she was outside the EPA transportation system, there was no way I ...

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