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Bradley v. District of Columbia Public Schools

United States District Court, District of Columbia

November 1, 2016

Cherryl Bradley, Plaintiff,
District of Columbia Public Schools, Defendant.


          Amit P. Mehta United States District Judge.


         Plaintiff Cherryl Bradley filed this lawsuit against her former employer, Defendant District of Columbia Public Schools (“DCPS”), asserting that Defendant failed to accommodate her disability and wrongfully terminated her employment. Plaintiff initially brought six claims, including violation of her constitutional and statutory rights under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, discrimination and retaliation in violation of federal and District of Columbia law, and constructive discharge under District of Columbia law. The court dismissed her claims under section 1983 and the District of Columbia Administrative Procedure Act. See Bradley v. D.C. Pub. Sch., 87 F.Supp.3d 156 (D.D.C. 2015). The court now addresses Plaintiff's remaining claims for discrimination and retaliation under the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”), and the District of Columbia Human Rights Act (“DCHRA”).

         This case is before the court in a unique posture-on Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment. Plaintiff therefore bears the heavy burden of showing that a reasonable jury could reach only one conclusion based on the record evidence-that Defendant failed to reasonably accommodate her disability and terminated her because of her disability and request for reasonable accommodation. The court finds that Plaintiff has not satisfied this burden and, therefore, denies her Motion for Summary Judgment.


         A. Factual Background

         Plaintiff Cherryl Bradley began work as a special education specialist for Defendant in 2004. Pl.'s Mem. in Supp. of Mot. for Summ. J., ECF No. 32-1 [hereinafter Pl.'s Mot.], at 1, 11; Pl.'s Stmt. of Undisputed Material Facts, ECF No. 32-2 [hereinafter Pl.'s Stmt.], ¶ 3; Def.'s Opp'n to Pl.'s Mot. for Summ. J., Ex. A, Def.'s Resp. to Pl.'s Stmt., ECF No. 35-2 [hereinafter Def.'s Resp.], ¶¶ 3-4. In April 2009, while Plaintiff was substitute teaching, a student violently elbowed her in the chest, causing her serious injuries and preventing her from returning to work until January 2010. Pl.'s Stmt. ¶¶ 12-19; Def.'s Resp. ¶¶ 12-19.

         About one year later, Defendant again assigned Plaintiff to substitute teach in a special education classroom. Exposure to the students caused Plaintiff to flash back to the 2009 battery and gave her extreme anxiety. Pl.'s Stmt. ¶¶ 20-24. Plaintiff sought medical assistance and was diagnosed with Adjustment Disorder with Mixed Anxiety, Depressed Mood, and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Pl.'s Mot. at 1; Def.'s Resp. ¶ 23.

         In March 2011, Plaintiff sought disability compensation and sick leave. Pl.'s Stmt. ¶¶ 25- 28; Def.'s Resp. ¶ 27-28. After her claim went unaddressed, Plaintiff filed a formal charge of discrimination in July 2011 with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission against both Defendant and the District of Columbia Office of Risk Management, citing discriminatory practices with respect to her disability. See Receipt of Original Case File, ECF No. 2, Superior Court Documents, ECF No. 2-1 [hereinafter Super. Ct. Docs.], at 155-56 (Ex. BB, Charge of Discrimination); Pl.'s Stmt. ¶¶ 27-31, 45; Def.'s Resp. ¶¶ 27-31, 45. Eventually, in December 2011, Defendant granted Plaintiff extended leave until March 4, 2012. Super. Ct. Docs. at 161- 62 (Ex. HH, Letter from Erin K. Pitts to Cherryl Bradley (Dec. 6, 2011)); Pl.'s Stmt. ¶ 56; Def.'s Resp. ¶ 56.

         On April 10, 2012, Paul Webb, Manager of Staffing Services for Defendant, sent Plaintiff a letter “regarding [her] return to work for DC Public Schools.” See Super. Ct. Docs. at 168 (Ex. LL, Letter from Paul Webb to Cherryl Bradley (Apr. 10, 2012)). Webb advised Plaintiff that “[t]he first step is obtaining the necessary background clearance. You are required to come in for fingerprinting . . . . Once your fingerprints have cleared, we can move forward with your placement.” Id. The letter warned that the “[f]ailure to report for fingerprinting . . . will be taken as your voluntary resignation as an employee of DC Public Schools.” Id.

         The same month, Plaintiff's treating psychiatrist sent a letter to Defendant, stating that Plaintiff “currently cannot perform any of the job functions listed related to the job description until her anticipated recovery which can be anywhere between 4-6 months.” See Id. at 169 (Ex. MM, Letter from Sheryl Neverson (Apr. 16, 2012)); Pl.'s Stmt. ¶ 62; Def.'s Resp. ¶ 62. The letter included a diagnosis form in which her physician opined that Plaintiff “needs to work on reasonable accommodations for her [to] return to work because returning to the position that she left a year ago can further injur[e] [Plaintiff].” Super. Ct. Docs. at 171 (Ex. MM, Medical Diagnosis of Cherryl Bradley).

         When Plaintiff did not appear at her scheduled fingerprinting appointment, DCPS terminated her. Id. at 172 (Ex. PP, Notification of Personnel Action); Pl.'s Stmt. ¶¶ 64-66; Def.'s Resp. ¶¶ 64, 66.

         B. Procedural Background

         Plaintiff filed a Complaint in D.C. Superior Court in May 2014. Notice of Removal, ECF No. 1, Pl.'s Compl., ECF. No. 1-2 [hereinafter Compl.], at 4-34. Plaintiff then filed an Amended Complaint in this court on September 22, 2014, alleging deprivation of her constitutional and statutory rights, in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (Count I); discrimination and retaliation in violation of the ADA and DCHRA (Counts II, III, IV, and V); and discharge in violation of the D.C. Administrative Procedure Act (Count VI). On April 3, 2015, the court dismissed Counts I and VI. See Bradley, 87 F.Supp.3d at 158. Plaintiff thus has four remaining claims: (1) employment discrimination based on her disability under ...

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