United States District Court, District of Columbia
LISA M. MAVROGIANIS, Plaintiff,
ROBERT A. McDONALD, Secretary, Department of Veterans Affairs, Defendant.
E. BOASBERG, United States District Judge.
Lisa Mavrogianis, an employee at the Department of Veterans
Affairs, has brought this suit claiming discrimination under
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the
Rehabilitation Act. She now moves for partial summary
judgment on her claim that the VA failed to accommodate her
physical injury by refusing to permit her three days of
telework per week. In support of her position that there are
no genuine disputes of material fact, she points solely to
the conclusions in a Final Agency Decision (FAD) issued by
the Department's Office of Employment Discrimination.
Because the Department properly rescinded that FAD,
however, the Court finds that it has no evidentiary or legal
effect. As such, Mavrogianis cannot prevail at this stage,
and the Court will deny her Motion.
time of the events underlying this case, Plaintiff served
within the VA as a Management Analyst in the Office of the
Assistant Secretary for Policy and Planning in Washington,
D.C. See Pl. Exh. 2 (EEO Investigative Report) at 2.
In November 2012, she was diagnosed with a hip labral tear,
the cause of which was unknown. See Pl. SOF (ECF No.
15, Attach. 1), ¶ 4; Def. SOF (ECF No. 18, Attach. 1),
¶ 4. This tear, along with other problems in her
musculoskeletal system, caused her to suffer “pain,
inflammation, restricted movement, and loss of flexibility
while walking, bending, reaching, twisting, lifting, and
pushing/pulling weights.” Pl. SOF, ¶ 5; see
also Def. SOF, ¶ 5. In December 2012,
Mavrogianis's orthopedist recommended workplace
accommodations that could help to stabilize and improve her
condition. These included medical leave and time off for
recovery, a flexible work schedule, fixed working conditions
and duties, and telework. See Pl. SOF, ¶ 6;
Def. SOF, ¶ 6.
2013, after the VA moved her workspace to a new building,
Plaintiff filed a written request for various accommodations
she believed to be reasonable, including three days per week
of telework. See Pl. SOF, ¶ 9; Def. SOF, ¶
9. Her orthopedist supported this request in a written
letter, explaining that Mavrogianis's new cubicle had
different furniture and less space, requiring her to move
about in more painful ways than she had at her previous
workstation. See Pl. SOF, ¶ 10; Def. SOF,
¶ 10. In September 2013, the physician followed up with
another letter, noting that her medical condition had
worsened and stressing the need for further accommodations.
See Pl. SOF, ¶ 11; Def. SOF, ¶ 11.
couple months passed and in November 2013 the VA management
granted some of Plaintiff's requested accommodations,
permitting her, inter alia, to telework from home
one day per week as part of a compressed work schedule.
See Pl. SOF, ¶ 12; Def. SOF, ¶ 12. The
Department's Reasonable Accommodation Coordinator did not
approve Plaintiff's three-day-telework request, but later
the VA requested updated medical documentation to support
that request. See Pl. SOF, ¶¶ 13-14; Def.
SOF, ¶¶ 13-14. On February 12, 2014, Mavrogianis
filed an Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) complaint
alleging that the VA had failed to accommodate her
disability, subjected her to a hostile work environment based
on disability discrimination, and retaliated against her for
requesting reasonable accommodations. See EEO
Investigative Report at 62-65. The Department indicated that
it would begin investigating her complaint. See id.
2014, the Department had decided to allow all employees on
compressed work schedules to take up to two days per week of
telework, and Mavrogianis indicated via email to the
Accommodations Coordinator that she would “suffer and
accept” the two-day-telework option. See Pl.
SOF, ¶ 16; Def. SOF, ¶ 16. Her physician
nevertheless sent another letter that month, again expressing
the view that the best accommodation for Plaintiff would be
“to permit her to work from home as frequently as
possible, but at least three days per week.” Pl. SOF,
¶ 18; see also Def. SOF, ¶ 18.
six months later, on December 10, 2014, Mavrogianis filed the
instant lawsuit in this Court, naming Robert McDonald,
Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs, as
Defendant. See ECF No. 1 (Complaint). In her
Complaint, she described her request for accommodation and
the Department's failure to acquiesce, as well as its
“creation of a hostile work environment for plaintiff,
[by] having taken discriminatory and retaliatory adverse
actions against” her. See id., ¶ 19.
Plaintiff argued that these actions on the part of the VA
caused her to suffer economic losses, lost career
opportunities, and emotional distress. See id.,
¶ 18. As such, she claimed, the VA had violated Title
VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended by the Equal
Employment Opportunity Act, as well as the Rehabilitation Act
of 1973. See id., ¶ 19. She sought compensatory
damages to the tune of $300, 000 plus interest; an injunction
requiring the VA to permit her to telework three days per
week and to provide her with various other accommodations
when at work; an order that the VA restore all the annual and
sick leave she has taken in connection with its failure to
accommodate her and that it provide her with excellent
performance ratings during the time at issue in the
Complaint; and attorney fees and costs. See id. at
months after initiating this civil suit, Plaintiff filed a
second EEO complaint with the VA on March 4, 2015, raising a
“single claim regarding a performance
evaluation.” Pl. Exh. 1 (FAD) at 1, n.1. (That second
complaint, although mentioned in the parties' briefing,
does not appear to be in the record at present.)
March 31, 2016, the VA's Office of Employment
Discrimination Complaints Adjudication (OEDCA) issued what it
labeled a “Final Agency Decision” disposing of
both of Mavrogianis's consolidated EEO complaints.
See FAD at 1. That FAD described at length the
investigation the EEO had conducted, and it concluded that
Plaintiff “has established that the agency
discriminated against her on the basis of her disability when
it failed to accommodate her as repeatedly requested by her
physician.” Id. at 29. It also concluded,
however, that she had “failed to prove by a
preponderance of the evidence that the agency subjected her
to unlawful workplace harassment on the basis of disability
or reprisal . . . [or] that the agency discriminated against
her on the basis of reprisal regarding her FY 14 performance
evaluation.” Id. The Decision stated that
Mavrogianis was “entitled to full, make-whole
relief” as a result of the Department's failure to
accommodate, including provision of requested accommodations,
restoration of all leave taken as a result of the failure to
accommodate, compensatory damages, attorney fees and costs,
and other miscellaneous relief. See id. at 29-36.
thereafter, on April 14, 2016, the OEDCA issued a
“Rescission of Final Agency Decision” rescinding
the aforementioned FAD. See Pl. Exh. 3 (Rescission
Order). The Rescission Order explained that “[a]fter
issuance of the FAD” adjudicating Mavrogianis's EEO
complaints, “OEDCA received notice that [Plaintiff] had
filed a civil action in the U.S. District Court for the
District of Columbia on December 10, 2014.”
Id. at 1. Because the claims Mavrogianis raised in
her EEO complaints “are identical to those raised in
the Civil Action pending adjudication before the U.S.
District Court for the District of Columbia, as of December
10, 2014, OEDCA had no jurisdiction to render a FAD on this
same complaint on March 31, 2016.” Id. It
therefore “rescind[ed] in its entirety the March 31,
2016 FAD administratively adjudicating [Plaintiff's EEO]
complaints.” Id. at 2.
23, 2016, while the parties were in the middle of discovery,
Plaintiff filed the instant Motion for Partial Summary
Judgment on her Rehabilitation Act (failure-to-accommodate)
claim citing the factual findings contained in the March 31,
2016, FAD. See Partial MSJ (ECF No. 15, Attach. 5)
at 1. She requests that her remaining discrimination and
retaliation claims arising under Title VII be allowed to
proceed separately to further discovery and trial. See
id. at 2 n.2. The Partial Motion is now ripe.
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 (1986); Holcomb v.
Powell, 433 F.3d 889, 895 (D.C. Cir. 2006). A fact is
“material” if it is capable of affecting the
substantive outcome of the litigation. See Liberty
Lobby, 477 U.S. at 248; Holcomb, 433 F.3d at
895. A dispute is “genuine” if the evidence is
such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the
nonmoving party. See Scott v. Harris, 550 U.S. 372,
380 (2007); Liberty Lobby, 477 U.S. at 248;
Holcomb, 433 F.3d at 895. “A party asserting
that a fact cannot be or is genuinely disputed must support
the assertion” by “citing to particular parts of
materials in ...