United States District Court, District of Columbia
RONALD W. HODGES, Plaintiff,
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, Defendant.
TANYA S. CHUTKAN United States District Judge
Plaintiff Ronald Hodges was employed by the District of Columbia’s Office of the Inspector General (“OIG”) until his termination in September 2010. In this action, he brings claims against the District for disability discrimination and failure to accommodate under the D.C. Human Rights Act, as amended, D.C. Code § 2-1401 et seq. (the “DCHRA”), and the Americans with Disabilities Act, as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 12101 et seq. (the “ADA”). He also alleges violation of the Family Medical Leave Act, 29 U.S.C. § 2601 et seq. (the “FMLA”).
Before the court are the District’s Motion for Summary Judgment on all of Plaintiff’s claims and Plaintiff’s Motion for Summary Judgment on his FMLA claim.
Upon consideration of the parties’ pleadings, and for the reasons set forth below, the District’s Motion is hereby GRANTED IN PART and DENIED IN PART, and Plaintiff’s Motion is hereby DENIED.
In 2010, while he was employed by OIG, Plaintiff began experiencing back pain. He was first treated by Dr. Charles Azzam, who referred him for a June 8, 2010 MRI examination that revealed a disc herniation, disc oseophyte complex and disc bulge. (See Pl.’s Mot. Ex. 2 at 2). After Dr. Azzam’s treatment proved unsuccessful, Plaintiff sought treatment with another physician, Dr. Peter Huynh. (See Pl.’s Mot. Ex. 1 ¶¶ 3-4).
The last day Plaintiff reported to work at OIG was July 21, 2010. (Pl.’s Opp’n at 2). On July 22, 2010, Dr. Huynh signed a work restriction form stating that Plaintiff would be “totally disabled” for five days, through July 27, 2010. (Pl.’s Mot. Ex. 3 at 1). The work restriction form also stated that Plaintiff could return to “normal duty” on July 28, 2010, with work restrictions to include stooping, bending, climbing, kneeling and squatting. (Id.).
Plaintiff did not return to work on July 28, 2010, however. Instead, on July 29, 2010, Dr. Huynh completed a medical certification for Plaintiff. (See Pl.’s Mot. Ex. 4). The certification stated that:
• Plaintiff had a “serious health condition” requiring “continuing treatment.” (Id. at 1, 4).
• Plaintiff’s “serious health condition” commenced in June 2010 and was expected to last for three to six months. (Id. at 1).
• Plaintiff would be required “to take work only intermittently or to work on a less than full schedule” for approximately three months “because of treatment on an intermittent or part-time basis.” (Id. at 1-2).
• Plaintiff would need to receive treatment three times per week for four to six weeks, and one to two times per week for one month thereafter. (Id. at 2).
• It would be “necessary” for Plaintiff “to be absent from work for treatment . . . due to the distance to [the] clinic” where he would be receiving such treatment. (Id.).
Under a heading relating to the kinds of work that Plaintiff would be “unable to perform, ” Dr. Huynh listed “no prolonged sitting” and “no heavy lifting” over five pounds. (Id.) Under a heading relating to “the essential functions of [Plaintiff’s] job” that he would be “unable to perform, ” Dr. Huynh did not list anything. (Id.).
On July 30, 2010, the day after Dr. Huynh completed the certification, Plaintiff contacted LaDonia Wilkins, OIG’s Deputy Assistant Inspector General for Audits, and informed her that he was “under [a] doctor’s care, preventing [him] from returning to work, ” and that he “would be unable to report to work for another 4 to 6 weeks.” (Pl.’s Mot. Ex. 5 at 1). Plaintiff does not appear to have contacted OIG prior to July 30, 2010 to explain why he had not appeared for work since July 21, 2010.
On August 6, 2010, Ronald King, OIG’s Assistant Inspector General for Audits, sent Plaintiff a letter regarding Plaintiff’s July 30, 2010 conversation with Wilkins. (See Pl.’s Mot. Ex. 5). The letter directed Plaintiff to contact King by August 11, 2010 “to apprise [him] as to what leave category [Plaintiff’s] absences should be charged to, ” and informed Plaintiff that if he failed to do so, he would be considered absent without leave (“AWOL”). (Id. at 1). The letter also directed Plaintiff to have an enclosed medical certification form completed by his health care provider and returned to King within five business days. (See id.).
Plaintiff did not get Dr. Huynh to complete this new medical certification form and instead provided King with the July 29, 2010 certification on August 13, 2010. (See Pl.’s Mot. Ex. 6 at 1).
On August 16, 2010, King sent Plaintiff a letter that stated:
I have reviewed the Certification and note that your chiropractor, Peter Huynh, indicates that your current medical condition requires:
• three (3) treatments per week for 4-6 weeks, 1-2 treatments per week for 1 month;
• no prolonged sitting; and
• no heavy lifting (over 5 lbs.).
Further, the Certification states that you need to be absent from work for treatment “due to the distance to clinic” (Springfield, VA).
Based on the Certification, I have denied your request for leave without pay for an indefinite period. However, the OIG will provide accommodations pursuant to the parameters listed in the Certification:
• you should stand up, stretch, and walk around to avoid prolonged sitting; and • you are not required to lift items greater than five (5) pounds.
In addition, in accordance with District regulations, your treatment and related commute can be charged to eligible annual leave, ...