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Harrison v. Office of the Architect of the Capitol

United States District Court, D. Columbia.

September 23, 2014

SHARON M. HARRISON, Plaintiff,
v.
OFFICE OF THE ARCHITECT OF THE CAPITOL, Defendant

Page 175

For Sharon M. Harrison, Plaintiff: Jeffrey Howard Leib, LEAD ATTORNEY, Washington, DC USA.

For Office of The Architect of The Capitol, Defendant: Judith A. Kidwell, LEAD ATTORNEY, U.S. ATTORNEY'S OFFICE, Washington, DC USA.

Page 176

MEMORANDUM OPINION

COLLEEN KOLLAR-KOTELLY, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

Presently before the Court is Plaintiff's [50] Motion for Reconsideration of the Court's [47] Order, granting Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment, and accompanying [48] Memorandum Opinion. Plaintiff argues that: (1) the Court erred by not considering the record from the instant matter and two subsequent cases filed by Plaintiff as a whole in reaching its holding; (2) the Court erred by failing to consider medical evidence presented by Plaintiff; and (3) the Court erred by applying case law related to Title VII claims to the instant action brought under the Congressional Accountability Act (" CAA" ), 2 U.S.C. § 1301 et seq. Upon consideration of the pleadings,[1] the relevant legal authorities, and the record as a whole, the Court INCORPORATES as part of this opinion its reasoning as laid out in its [48] Memorandum Opinion, see 964 F.Supp.2d 71 (D.D.C. 2013), and DENIES Plaintiff's motion for reconsideration for the foregoing reasons.

I. BACKGROUND

The Court has detailed the underlying facts of this Motion in its previous opinion. See Harrison v. Office of the Architect of the Capitol, 964 F.Supp.2d 71, 74-76 (D.D.C. 2013). The instant matter is based on events that occurred between August 6, 2008 and July 23, 2009. During all pertinent times, Plaintiff, Sharon Harrison, was employed by Defendant, the Architect of the Capitol. This action is the first of three lawsuits filed in this Court by the Plaintiff challenging various aspects of her employment with the Defendant. On July 23, 2009, Plaintiff filed the instant action (" Harrison I " ) against Defendant, alleging that Defendant unlawfully discriminated against her in violation of 2 U.S.C. § 1311(a)(1), and unlawfully retaliated against her in violation of 2 U.S.C. § 1317(a). On August 31, 2010, Plaintiff filed a subsequent action (" Harrison II " ) against Defendant, alleging that Defendant unlawfully retaliated against her in violation of 2 U.S.C. § 1317(a). See 964 F.Supp.2d 81 (" Harrison II " ). On February

Page 177

23, 2011, Plaintiff filed a third action (" Harrison III " ) against Defendant, alleging that Defendant unlawfully retaliated against her in violation of 2 U.S.C. § 1317(a). See 985 F.Supp.2d 13 (" Harrison III " ). By separate orders, the Court granted summary judgment in favor of Defendant in each of the three actions. See Harrison I, 964 F.Supp.2d 71 (D.D.C. 2013); Harrison II, 964 F.Supp.2d 81 (D.D.C. 2013); Harrison III, 985 F.Supp.2d 13 (D.D.C. 2013).

In the instant action, the Court granted summary judgment in favor of Defendant on all five of Plaintiff's hostile work environment claims as follows: (a) hostile work environment based on Plaintiff's gender (Count I); (b) hostile work environment in retaliation for protected activity under Title VII (Counts II & III); (c) hostile work environment in retaliation for Plaintiff's exercise of rights under the Family Medical Leave Act (" FMLA" ) (Count IV); and (d) hostile work environment in retaliation for Plaintiff's opposition to practices prohibited under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (" OSHA" ) (Count V). See generally Harrison I, 964 F.Supp.2d 71 (D.D.C. 2013).

II. LEGAL STANDARD

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 59(e) permits a party to file " [a] motion to alter or amend a judgment" within " 28 days after the entry of the judgment." Fed.R.Civ.P. 59(e). Motions under Rule 59(e) are " disfavored" and the moving party bears the burden of establishing " extraordinary circumstances" warranting relief from a final judgment. Niedermeier v. Office of Baucus, 153 F.Supp.2d 23, 28 (D.D.C. 2001). Rule 59(e) motions are " discretionary and need not be granted unless the district court finds that there is an intervening change of controlling law, the availability of new evidence, or the need to correct a clear error or prevent manifest injustice." Firestone v. Firestone, 76 F.3d 1205, 1208, 316 U.S.App.D.C. 152 (D.C. Cir. 1996) (internal quotation marks omitted). Rule 59(e) does not provide a vehicle " to relitigate old matters, or to raise arguments or present evidence that could have been raised prior to the entry of judgment." Exxon Shipping Co. v. Baker, 554 U.S. 471, 485 n.5, 128 S.Ct. 2605, 171 L.Ed.2d 570 (2008) (quoting 11 C. Wright & A. Miller, Federal Practice and Procedure § 2810.1 (2d ed. 1995)).

III. DISCUSSION

Plaintiff raises three objections to the Court's granting of summary judgment in favor of Defendant in the instant matter. First, Plaintiff argues that the Court should have considered the record in the instant matter coupled with the record in two matters subsequently filed by the Plaintiff against Defendant because the claims in each case were related. Second, Plaintiff argues that the Court should have considered medical evidence presented by Plaintiff in reaching its holding. Finally, Plaintiff alleges that the Court erred by applying case law related to Title VII claims to the instant action brought under the CAA. The Court shall address each argument in turn.

A. Record in Plaintiff's Subsequently Filed Cases

In order to understand the chronology of events, Plaintiff argues that the Court should have considered the record in the instant action as well as the records in Harrison II and Harrison III when evaluating whether Defendant engaged in unlawful discriminatory and retaliatory employment practices against her. Pl.'s Mot. at 2-4. Defendant rejects this argument, asserting that Plaintiff's position has " no legal support under Title VII." Def.'s Opp'n at 2 ...


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