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Mack v. Georgetown University

United States District Court, District of Columbia

September 27, 2017

ALITA MACK, Plaintiff,


          ROSEMARY M. COLLYER United States District Judge.

         Plaintiff Alita Mack alleges that she suffered discrimination and retaliation by her then-employer Georgetown University in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. § 12101 et seq. Defendant Georgetown University moved for summary judgment on November 3, 2016, see Mot. [Dkt. 56], and this matter was referred to Magistrate Judge G. Michael Harvey for a Report and Recommendation. See November 17, 2016 Minute Order. Ms. Mack filed an opposition to Georgetown's summary judgment motion and multiple erata, see Opp'n [Dkt. 71]; Errata 1 [Dkt. 74]; Errata 2 [Dkt. 75], to which Georgetown replied. See Reply [Dkt. 82]. Magistrate Judge Harvey proceeded to review the briefing carefully and thoroughly and submitted his Report and Recommendation (R&R) to this Court on August 4, 2017. See R&R [Dkt. 87]. Ms. Mack filed a timely objection to the R&R, see Objection [Dkt. 88], Georgetown responded, see Response [Dkt. 89], and Ms. Mack was granted permission to submit an amended objection. See Am. Objection [Dkt. 91].

         Upon consideration of the R&R, amended objection, and response, and an independent review of the underlying evidence, the Court will accept in full Magistrate Judge Harvey's Report and Recommendation and grant Georgetown's motion for summary judgment.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Magistrate Judge Harvey's Report and Recommendation contains a detailed procedural history and factual background section, which the Court adopts and will not repeat in full here. See R&R at 5-21.

         Ms. Mack was hired by Georgetown as an Executive Assistant in the Department of Public Safety on February 19, 2014. Def. Ex. 9 [Dkt. 57-9] at GU001982. Her supervisor was Georgetown's Chief of Police, Jay Gruber. Def. Ex. 10 [Dkt. 57-10] at GU002602. About four months after Ms. Mack starting work, she submitted a disability accommodation request to Michael Smith, the Director of Affirmative Action Programs at Georgetown. Def. Ex. 13 [Dkt. 57-13] at GU000360-01. Ms. Mack indicated that she had diabetes and requested eleven accommodations including a discrete environment to monitor her blood sugar level, an area to store food and medication, and flexibility to schedule medical appointments. Am. Compl. [Dkt. 14] ¶ 13. The accommodations were agreed upon and put into effect on July 24, 2014 with the completion of an accommodation agreement. Def. Ex. 16 [Dkt. 57-16] at GU002659-61.

         Ten days later, Ms. Mack complained of a mildew odor and possible mold in her workspace. Def. Ex. 17 [Dkt. 57-17] at GU002679-81. Georgetown evaluated the space, discovered a mold spot near Ms. Mack's workspace, disinfected the mold, and replaced any stained ceiling tiles. Def. Ex. 18 [Dkt. 57-18] at GU002750. A few days later, Ms. Mack submitted another disability accommodation request form indicating she was suffering from a respiratory illness, which was later identified as rhinitis, and requesting reassignment to a vacant position.[1] Ms. Mack was referred to the Human Resources department and put on temporary paid leave until arrangements could be made to move her workspace to another room. Def. Ex. 25 [Dkt. 57-25] at GU000466; Def. Ex. 26 [58-1] at GU000467. Because Ms. Mack's second accommodation request stemmed from a new disability, she was required to engage with Georgetown and her physicians to develop a new plan under the ADA. For the next few weeks, Georgetown attempted to get more information from Ms. Mack's treating physicians, located a new workspace for Ms. Mack, and conducted additional testing for mold and dust mites. Def. Ex. 28 [Dkt. 58-3] at GU002756-57; Def. Ex. 29 [Dkt. 58-4] at GU002804-05; Def. Ex. 30 [Dkt. 58-5] at GU002991.

         Meanwhile, beginning in August 2014, Chief Gruber expressed concerns with Ms. Mack's performance. Ms. Mack met with Chief Gruber on August 4, 2014 and again on August 26, 2014 to discuss his concerns, including her frequent unapproved absences and requests to work from home. Def. Ex. 19 [Dkt. 57-19] at GU00455-56; Def. Ex. 32 [Dkt. 58-7] at GU000599-600.

         Ms. Mack continued to request permission to work in a different building or remotely and was informed that the essential functions of her position required her to be in the office. Def. Ex. 34 [Dkt. 58-9] at GU002889-92. On August 28, 2014 Ms. Mack filed a charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) claiming Georgetown discriminated against her by ignoring her requests for accommodation and harassed her in retaliation for asserting her rights. Def. Ex. 41 [Dkt. 58-16] at GU003158-59.

         Over the next two months, Georgetown continued to attempt to work with Ms. Mack and her physicians to determine the necessary accommodations, but Ms. Mack prohibited her physicians from communicating with Georgetown. Def. Ex. 5 [Dkt. 57-5] at KP0010, KP0041-42, KP0050. Chief Gruber's dissatisfaction with Ms. Mack's performance grew and on October 14, 2014 Ms. Mack was suspended for three days “based on [her] continued unacceptable work performance and misconduct regarding tardiness and failure to follow call-in procedures, declining calendar appointments and subsequent untruthfulness, and refusals to meet with [her] supervisor.” Def. Ex. 44 [Dkt. 58-19] at GU000809-11.

         On October 17, 2014, Ms. Mack requested to be reassigned to a vacant position as a reasonable accommodation under her July 2014 ADA plan. Def. Ex. 50 [Dkt. 58-25] at GU003332. After consulting with Ms. Mack's physician, Georgetown determined that her diabetes (which was the disability at issue in the July 2014 accommodation plan) did not warrant reassignment. Def. Ex. 55 [Dkt. 59-5] at GU003408-09. Georgetown continued to attempt to work with Ms. Mack to provide any requested accommodations and in late November Ms. Mack was placed on unpaid leave while Human Resources searched for a vacant position to which she could be transferred. Def. Ex. 64 [Dkt. 59-14] at GU001789.

         On January 29, 2015 Human Resources offered Ms. Mack a position as Recruiting Coordinator in the Cawley Career Education Center and asked for a response by February 2, 2015. Def. Ex. 72 [Dkt. 59-22] at GU003797. Ms. Mack failed to respond and after meeting with her and evaluating other possible positions for which she was qualified, Georgetown again extended an offer to Ms. Mack for a Recruiting Coordinator position and indicated that failure to accept the position by March 5, 2015 would result in her termination. Def. Ex. 75 [Dkt. 59-25] at GU003839. Ms. Mack failed to respond and on March 6, 2015 Georgetown terminated her employment. Def. Ex. 77 [Dkt. 60-2] at GU003903-04.

         Ms. Mack filed a second EEOC charge against Georgetown on March 11, 2015, Am. Compl. at 41, which was ultimately dismissed and Ms. Mack was informed of her right to sue in federal court. Id. at 32. Ms. Mack filed the initial complaint in this action on May 29, 2015. Compl. [Dkt. 1].

         Ms. Mack's objection also contains proposed undisputed material facts and cites to evidence that was not a part of the record on summary judgment. To the extent those additional facts are necessary to evaluate Ms. Mack's objections they will be described below.

         II. ...

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