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Austin v. Research

United States District Court, D. Columbia.

December 3, 2014

MONICA AUSTIN, Plaintiff,
v.
AMERICAN INSTITUTE FOR RESEARCH, Defendant

Decided: December 2, 2014.

Page 248

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 249

For MONICA AUSTIN, Plaintiff: C. Sukari Hardnett, C. SUKARI HARDNETT, LLC, LEAD ATTORNEY, Silver Spring, MD.

For AMERICAN INSTITUTE FOR RESEARCH, Defendant: Paul C. Skelly, LEAD ATTORNEY, HOGAN LOVELLS U.S. LLP, Washington, DC.

Page 250

MEMORANDUM OPINION

RICHARD J. LEON, United States District Judge.

Plaintiff Monica Austin brings this suit against defendant American Institute for Research (" AIR" ) for employment discrimination and retaliation in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964,42 U.S.C. § § 2000e to 2000e-17 (" Title VII" ), and the Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. § § 12101-12213 (" ADA" ), as well as for violations of the Family and Medical Leave Act, 29 U.S.C. § § 2601-2654 (" FMLA" ). See generally Compl. [Dkt. # 1]. Defendant AIR moves to dismiss the Complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). Def.'s Mot. to Dismiss (" Def.'s Mot." ) [Dkt. #4]. Upon consideration of the parties' pleadings, relevant law, and the entire record therein, the motion is GRANTED in part and DENIED in part.

BACKGROUND

Ms. Austin, an African-American woman, was employed by AIR from 2001 to 2011, first as an administrative assistant and then as an HR coordinator. Compl. at 2-3. In 2007, Ms. Austin was diagnosed with Lupus, Raynaud's Syndrome, depression, and Lyme disease. Compl. ¶ 3. She applied for and took four months of leave under the FMLA, and returned to work in October 2008. Compl. ¶ 4.

The allegations in the Complaint arise out of plaintiff's treatment upon return from leave. Ms. Austin alleges " she requested accommodations which she did not receive" and that her work demands increased soon after she returned, particularly when she was assigned the duties of a former colleague. Compl. ¶ ¶ 5-6, 16, 18. In September 2009, AIR changed plaintiff from a salaried employee to an hourly employee. Pl.'s Opp'n to Def.'s Mot. at 2 (" Pl.'s Opp'n" ) [Dkt. #9].[1] In 2010, Ms. Austin requested and was denied a transfer to another department. Compl. ¶ 12. Her supervisors excluded her from weekly individual staff meetings, training, and guidance sessions from 2009 until her termination. Compl. ¶ 13. Throughout 2010

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and 2011, AIR moved plaintiff's desk around the office. Compl. ¶ 15. She was required to seek further clarification from her doctors on the notes she brought in to verify her illness. Compl. ¶ 17. In September 2011, AIR placed Ms. Austin on a Performance Improvement Plan (" PIP" ). Opp'n at 11. Ms. Austin again requested a transfer, and again was told no jobs were available. Compl. ¶ 22. On October 25,2011, AIR terminated Ms. Austin. Compl. ¶ 19.

After her termination, Ms. Austin filed an official charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (" EEOC" ) alleging discrimination and retaliation on the basis of her race and disability. Def.'s Mot, Ex. 2 at 2 [Dkt. #4-4]. She now brings this suit, alleging six counts in her Complaint: (1) Wrongful Discharge; (2) Race Based Discrimination, in violation of Title VII; (3) Hostile Work Environment, in violation of Title VII; (4) violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act (" ADA" ); (5) Retaliation, in violation of Title VII; and (6) Violation of the Family and Medical Leave Act. See generally Compl. She seeks damages and attorney fees. Compl. at 16. ...


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