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Alexander v. WMATA

United States District Court, D. Columbia.

March 10, 2015

CARLOS ALEXANDER, Plaintiff,
v.
WMATA, Defendant

For CARLOS ALEXANDER, Plaintiff: Donna Williams Rucker, RUCKER & ASSOCIATES, PC, Washington, DC.

For WMATA, Defendant: Gerard Joseph Stief, LEAD ATTORNEY, WASHINGTON METROPOLITAN AREA TRANSIT AUTHORITY, Washington, DC.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

TANYA S. CHUTKAN, United States District Judge.

Plaintiff Carlos Alexander brings this discrimination action pursuant to the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, 29 U.S.C. § 794 et seq.,[1] against defendant Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (" WMATA" ), challenging WMATA's decision to deny his applications for rehire after he completed an alcohol abuse treatment program. Before the Court is WMATA's motion for summary judgment. Upon consideration of the motion, the response and reply thereto, the entire record, and for the following reasons, the Court grants WMATA's motion.

I. BACKGROUND

Alexander is a former WMATA employee who alleges that he has suffered from alcohol dependency since approximately 1980. (Pl. Opp'n 5). From November 1999 until his termination in January 2009, Alexander worked for WMATA as an Automatic Train Control Mechanic Helper and a Communications Mechanic Helper. (Alexander Aff. ¶ ¶ 3-4). In April 2007, Alexander's supervisor smelled alcohol on Alexander's breath when he arrived at work. Alexander took a breathalyzer test and tested positive for alcohol, after which he was suspended and referred to WMATA's Employee Assistance Program. Alexander returned to work in December 2007 and was required to take periodic alcohol tests as a condition of his reinstatement. In January 2009, Alexander again tested positive for alcohol at work. WMATA terminated Alexander on January 27, 2009. (Pl. Opp'n 5-6).

WMATA informed Alexander that he could apply to be rehired in one year if he completed an intensive alcohol abuse treatment program. In the fall of 2009, Alexander entered a treatment program at the Washington Hospital Center, and completed the program in January 2010. (Pl. Statement of Mat. Facts in Dispute ¶ 7).

After completing the alcohol treatment program, Alexander reapplied for several positions at WMATA. In April or May 2010, he applied for a Communications Helper mechanic position, but was informed in June 2010 that he was not qualified for the position.[2] (Def. Statement of Undisputed Facts ¶ 2; Pl. Statement in Response 15). Alexander applied for a Communications Helper mechanic position in August 2011, but was informed a few days later that he was disqualified from the position. (Def. Statement of Undisputed Facts ¶ 3; Pl. Statement in Response 17). Finally, in October 2011 he applied for an Automatic Helper mechanic position, but was not rehired. (Def. Statement of Undisputed Facts ¶ 4; Pl. Statement in Response 17).

On or about July 13, 2010 (after the first rehire decision but before the second and third), Alexander filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (" EEOC" ), alleging that WMATA had violated the ADA by not rehiring him because of his alcohol dependency. On September 7, 2012, Alexander received a right to sue letter from the EEOC. (Compl. ¶ ¶ 6, 8). He filed this lawsuit on December 5, 2012.

II. LEGAL STANDARD

a. Summary Judgment

Summary judgment may be granted if " the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a); see also Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247-48, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986); Holcomb v. Powell, 433 F.3d 889, 895, 369 U.S.App.D.C. 122 (D.C. Cir. 2006). " A party asserting that a fact cannot be or is genuinely disputed must support the assertion by citing to particular parts of materials in the record." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1)(A). " A fact is 'material' if a dispute over it might affect the outcome of a suit under the governing law; factual disputes that are 'irrelevant or unnecessary' do not affect the summary judgment determination." Holcomb, 433 F.3d at 895 (quoting Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. at 248). An issue is " genuine" if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party. See id. The party seeking summary judgment " bears the heavy burden of establishing that the merits of his case are so clear that expedited action is justified." Taxpayers Watchdog, Inc., v. Stanley, 819 F.2d 294, 297, 260 U.S.App.D.C. 334 (D.C. Cir. 1987).

In considering a motion for summary judgment, " the evidence of the nonmovant[s] is to be believed, and all justifiable inferences are to be drawn in [their] favor." Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. at 255; see also Mastro v. Potomac Elec. Power Co., 447 F.3d 843, 850, 371 U.S.App.D.C. 68 (D.C. Cir. 2006). The nonmoving party's opposition, however, must consist of more than mere unsupported allegations or denials, and must be supported by affidavits, declarations, or other competent evidence, setting forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e); Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 324, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986). The nonmovant is required ...


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