United States District Court, District of Columbia
MEMORANDUM OPINION [DKT. # 12]
RICHARD J. LEON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Nora Thompson ("Thompson" or "plaintiff),
brings this action, alleging that defendant, the District of
Columbia ("District" or "defendant"),
discriminated against her, in violation of the Americans with
Disabilities Act ("ADA"), 42 U.S.C. § 12101,
and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act
("ADEA"), 29 U.S.C. § 621. Thompson also
alleges that she was subjected to a hostile work environment,
in violation of the ADA, and retaliation. This matter is now
before the Court on defendant's Motion to Dismiss or for
Summary Judgment [Dkt. #12]. Upon consideration of the
parties' submissions and the entire record herein,
defendant's motion is GRANTED and plaintiffs case will be
DISMISSED with prejudice.
was 61-years-old at the time she filed her amended complaint
in this case-began working as a library technician at the
District of Columbia Department of Corrections
("DOC") on May 17, 2004. Am. Compl. ¶¶
6-7 [Dkt. # 4]. Thompson uses a walking cane, and she claims
that she has a perceived disability to walk. Id. at
¶ 7; Pl.'s Opp. to Def.'s Mot. ("Pl.'s
Opp."), Ex. 1 ("Pl.'s Ex. 1"). Although
she accepted the position of library technician "with
the understanding that she would be eligible for promotion to
a higher paying law library position when it became
available, " Thompson was never given a promotion. Am.
Compl. ¶¶ 9-10. In May of 2009, Teresa A. Ward
("Ward") was given the job of Legal Instruments
Examiner, which pays a higher salary than the position of
library technician. Id. at ¶ 11. Ward is 15
years younger than plaintiff, and she was under the age of 40
when she began working as Legal Instruments • Examiner.
Id. Plaintiff alleges that Ward "did not have
educational qualifications and work experience
comparable" to her, and that she did not have a
disability. Id. at ¶¶ 11-12. When the
position of Legal Instruments Examiner subsequently became
vacant again, plaintiff claims that she applied for the job
and was rejected. Id. at ¶ 13. Thompson asserts
that she "has been continually rejected" for that
job and other open positions at the DOC. Id.
in approximately 2012, Thomson alleges she has experienced
harassment from DOC Corporal Susan Briscoe-Armstrong
("Briscoe-Armstrong"), who provides security for
the prison library. Id. at ¶ 14. Plaintiff
alleges that Briscoe-Armstrong has attempted to intimidate
her by "having prisoners verbally abuse [her], falsely
accusing [her] of not working, and tracking all of [her]
movements in and around the library." Id.
Plaintiff alleges that she "filed a Cease and Desist
Order" against Briscoe-Armstrong in April of 2015, and
again in October of 2015, but nothing was done to resolve her
complaints. Id. at ¶¶ 15-17. On November
15, 2015, Thompson "filed a Civil Protection Order
(CPO)" against Briscoe-Armstrong in the Civil Division
of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia, but again,
nothing was done. Id. at ¶ 18.
December of 2015, Briscoe-Armstrong filed a complaint against
Thompson for harassment. Id. at ¶ 19. Thompson
did not respond to the complaint, despite direct orders from
her supervisors to do so. Def.'s Mot. to Dismiss, Ex. 2
("Def.'s Ex. 2"). Thompson's immediate
supervisor, Dr. James Greene ("Greene") determined
that Thompson's refusal to respond violated the DOC's
policies on investigations and the chain of command, so
Greene charged Thompson with insubordination. Id.
Thompson was accordingly suspended without pay for five
calendar days, from February 22, 2016 through February 26,
2016. Id.; Am. Compl. ¶ 20. On March 29, 2016,
Thompson filed a formal charge of discrimination with the
Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC").
Def.'s Mot. to Dismiss, Ex. 3 ("Def.'s Ex.
3"); Am. Compl. ¶ 22. In her EEOC charge, Thompson
claimed that she experienced discrimination based on her age
and disability, and that Briscoe-Armstrong created a hostile
work environment by harassing her and getting the inmates to
harass her. See Def.'s Ex. 3.
12, 2016, Thompson received a Letter of Counseling from
LaToya Lane ("Lane"), the Deputy Warden of
Programs. Am. Compl. ¶ 23; Def.'s Mot. to Dismiss,
Ex. 4 ("Def.'s Ex. 4"). According to Lane's
letter, Thompson violated DOC procedures by allowing an
inmate greater access to the library than what was permitted.
Id. The letter stated, in relevant part, that the
"counseling is expected to correct your behavior. Any
further non-compliance will result in corrective/adverse
action being taken against you." Def.'s Ex. 4.
filed her original complaint in this case on August 17, 2016,
and then filed an amended complaint in November of that year.
See Compl. [Dkt. # 1]; Am. Compl. In her amended
complaint, plaintiff alleges one count of discrimination in
violation of the ADA, see Am. Compl. ¶¶
25-32, one count of discrimination in violation of the ADEA,
see Id. at ¶¶ 33-39, one count of a
hostile work environment in violation of the ADA, see
Id. at ¶¶ 40-45, and one count of retaliation,
see Id. at ¶¶ 46-52.
particular, plaintiff alleges that, even though she has made
"numerous attempts to apply to open positions, "
she "has been passed over for numerous promotional
opportunities, " despite "her educational
qualifications and experience." Id. at
¶¶ 29-30. Thompson attributes this failure to
promote to discrimination "on the basis of her
disability and a record or perception of disability" and
"because of her age." Id. at ¶¶
31, 37. With respect to her hostile work environment claim,
plaintiff alleges that Briscoe-Armstrong "deliberately
intimidated, frustrated and harassed [her] for over four
years, " and that, "despite [her] many complaints
to her superiors, " the District did nothing, thereby
"breach[ing] its duty to Plaintiff by failing to prevent
and remedy the harassment and hostile workplace."
Id. at ¶¶ 42, 44. Finally, plaintiff
alleges that the letter of counseling she received was issued
as retaliation for Thompson's filing of a charge of
discrimination. Id. at ¶ 50; Pl.'s Opp.
claims that she has suffered, and continues to suffer
"severe emotional distress, fear, embarrassment,
humiliation and mental anguish" as a result of
defendant's actions and omissions. Am. Compl.
¶¶ 32, 38, 45, 52. She accordingly requests
compensatory damages in excess of $300, 000, as well as
attorneys' fees and costs. Id. at 9.
February 6, 2017, the District filed its Motion to Dismiss
Plaintiffs Amended Complaint, or in the Alternative, for
Summary Judgment. See Def.'s Mot. to Dismiss
Pl.'s Am. Compl., or in the Alternative, for Summ. J.
("Def.'s Mot.") [Dkt. # 12]. Among other
arguments, the District insists that plaintiff has failed to
state a claim for discrimination and hostile work
environment, has failed to demonstrate that she is disabled,
and has failed to exhaust her administrative remedies.
Id. 6-13. The District's motion is fully briefed
and is ripe for my review.
has filed a motion to dismiss, or in the alternative, for
summary judgment. Because the parties have presented
materials outside the pleadings, and I have relied upon these
materials in this Memorandum Opinion, I will treat the motion
as one for summary judgment. See Fed. R. Civ. P.
12(d); House v. Salazar,598 F.Supp.2d 89, 91
(D.D.C. 2009). A party is entitled to summary judgment if the
pleadings, the discovery and disclosure materials on file,
and any affidavits show "that there is no genuine
dispute as to any material fact and that the movant is
entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P.
56(a). The party seeking summary judgment bears the initial
burden of demonstrating the absence of a genuine issue of
material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S.
317, 322 (1986). ...