United States District Court, D. Columbia.
DENISE L. LENKIEWICZ, Plaintiff,
JULIAN CASTRO, Secretary, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Defendant
For DENISE L. LENKIEWICZ, Plaintiff: Evan E. North, J. Wells Harrell, LEAD ATTORNEYS, BOIES, SCHILLER & FLEXNER, LLP, Washington, DC.
For UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT, JULIAN CASTRO, Secretary, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Defendants: Carl Ezekiel Ross, LEAD ATTORNEY, U.S. ATTORNEY'S OFFICE FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, Washington, DC.
ROYCE C. LAMBERTH, United States District Judge.
In this case, plaintiff, Denise L. Lenkiewicz (" Lenkiewicz" ) brings a single claim
of discrimination against the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (" HUD" ) under Section 501 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. Before the Court are the plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment, ECF No. 56, the defendant's Opposition, ECF No. 67, and the plaintiff's Reply, ECF No. 68. Also before the Court are the defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment, ECF No. 57, the plaintiff's Opposition, ECF No. 64, and the defendant's Reply, ECF No. 72. For the reasons set forth below, the plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment will be DENIED. The defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment will be GRANTED in part and DENIED in part.
Lenkiewicz was employed as a Freedom of Information Act (" FOIA" ) specialist at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (" HUD" ) from October 2008 to November 2011. Answer ¶ 6, ECF No. 6. Lenkiewicz's responsibilities included " reviewing FOIA requests, assigning requests to a responding office, and redacting responsive documents." Complaint ¶ 7, ECF No. 1; Answer ¶ 7. Throughout her time at HUD, Lenkiewicz had physical impairments and submitted evidence of these physical impairments. Def.'s Resp. to Pl.'s Interrog. No. 10, ECF No. 56-1.
Lenkiewicz began submitting requests for accommodation in late 2009. Pl.'s Resp. to Def.'s Interrog. No. 3, ECF No. 56-2. In August 2009, Lenkiewicz suffered a fracture of her right foot. Dr. Shammas Note (Aug. 6, 2009), ECF No. 56-28. Lenkiewicz " requested that a spare, unused printer be moved to her office so she would not have to walk multiple times per day to retrieve printed documents." Compl. ¶ 17. Lenkiewicz made a verbal request to Lewis, Lenkiewicz Dep. 111:25-112:1, ECF No. 56-18, and sent an e-mail to Deborah Rizzo, the head of HUD's Reasonable Accommodations Branch, E-mail from Denise Lenkiewicz to Deborah Rizzo (Sept. 11, 2009, 9:11 AM), ECF No. 56-21. Vicky Lewis, Lenkiewicz's supervisor, denied the request on December 7, 2009. Compl. ¶ 17. Instead, Lewis offered Lenkiewicz an alternative accommodation in the form of having a contractor pick up her documents from the printer. Lenkiewicz Dep. 113:12-114:5.
Soon after breaking her foot, Lenkiewicz made a request to Lewis for a parking space at or near the HUD headquarters. Lenkiewicz Dep. 100:13-100:25. Lewis did not grant or deny the request for a parking space and told Lenkiewicz to request one through HUD's Mail and Transportation Branch. Lenkiewicz Dep. 102:7-102:20; Lewis Dep. 74:15-18, ECF No. 56-16. The Mail and Transportation branch told Lenkiewicz that there weren't any parking spaces available. Lenkiewicz Dep. 103:6-103:16.
In 2009, Lenkiewicz further requested to be moved from the HUD office in which she was working because she was having breathing problems. Lenkiewicz Dep. 130:18-131:13. Lenkiewicz requested the transfer because " [there was] something in that office making [her] sick." Lenkiewicz Dep. 131:1-131:10. The relocation request was ignored. Pl's Resp. to Def.'s Interrog. No. 3. In December 2009, Lenkiewicz also submitted a request for a reasonable accommodation in the form of telework. Lenkiewicz Dep. 108:21-109:12. Lenkiewicz submitted a Form 1000 with the assistance of Deborah Rizzo at the Accommodations Office. Id. HUD failed to respond to Lenkiewicz's request for a reasonable accommodation and misplaced the corresponding Form 1000. E-mail from Denise
Lenkiewicz to Deborah Rizzo (Jan. 19, 2010 10:44 AM), ECF No. 56-21.
In December 2010, Lenkiewicz submitted another Form 1000 requesting a reasonable accommodation in the form of telework. Answer ¶ 26. In her request, Lenkiewicz cited her COPD with chronic bronchitis and debilitating arthritis. Accommodation Request for Persons with Disabilities for Denise Lenkiewicz (Dec. 22, 2010), ECF No. 56-22. In support of this request, Lenkiewicz submitted four documents and two releases permitting HUD to contact two of her physicians. Lenkiewicz Dep. 177:4-177:10. None of the documents discussed Lenkiewicz's alleged COPD. See Accommodation Documents, ECF No. 57-1. HUD submitted the request to Federal Occupational Health (FOH). Federal Occupational Health Submission (Jan. 5, 2011), ECF No. 57-1. Dr. James Allen evaluated Lenkiewicz's request and the aforementioned documents, along with a medical assessment submitted by one of Lenkiewicz's physicians, and determined that none of the documents or the assessment indicated a substantial limitation of a major life function. Allen Dep. 94:1-20; 153:10-157:18, ECF No. 56-15. Dr. Allen recommended that HUD deny Lenkiewicz's telework request. Allen Dep. 134:9-134:21. HUD denied Lenkiewicz's accommodations request, and the denial was backdated to the date of the initial request (December 22, 2010). Accommodation Request for Persons with Disabilities for Denise Lenkiewicz (Dec. 22, 2010). Lenkiewicz stopped reporting to work in May 2011. Lenkiewicz Dep. 165:18-24.
II. LEGAL STANDARD
Summary judgment shall 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). A material fact is a fact that might affect the outcome of the case. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986). A dispute about a material fact is " genuine" if " the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party." Id. " A party seeking summary judgment always bears the initial responsibility of informing the district court of the basis for its motion, and identifying those portions of 'the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any,' which it believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact." Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986) (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)).
In making a summary judgment determination, the court must believe the evidence of the non-moving party and draw all justifiable inferences in its favor. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255. However, " the mere existence of a scintilla of evidence in support of the non-moving party" is insufficient to create a genuine dispute of material fact. Id. at 252. Instead, evidence must exist on which the jury could reasonably find for the non-moving party. Id. Rule 56(c) " mandates the entry of summary judgment, after adequate time for discovery and upon motion, against a party who fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence ...