Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Pauling v. District of Columbia

United States District Court, District of Columbia

December 29, 2017

YOLANDA PAULING, Plaintiff,
v.
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          BERYL A. HOWELL, CHIEF JUDGE.

         The plaintiff, Yolanda Pauling, an African-American woman currently employed as a Senior Crime Analyst with the District of Columbia Metropolitan Police Department (“MPD”), initiated this action against defendant District of Columbia alleging employment discrimination on the basis of race, gender, and disability; retaliation; hostile work environment; and failure to accommodate a disability in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (“Title VII”), as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq.; the District of Columbia Human Rights Act (“DCHRA”), D.C. Code § 2-1401.01 et seq.; Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (“ADA”), as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 12111 et seq.; and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, 29 U.S.C. § 794.[1] Pending before the Court is the defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment (“Def.'s Mot.”), ECF No. 43, on all counts. For the reasons explained below, the defendant's motion is granted.

         I. BACKGROUND

         The plaintiff has been employed with MPD since at least October 3, 2005, when she was a Grade 9, Step 1 Crime Analyst. Def.'s Statement Undisputed Facts Supp. Mot. Summ. J. (“Def.'s SMF”) ¶ 3, ECF No. 43-2 (undisputed); Def.'s Mot., Ex. 3, Pl.'s Probationary Evaluation (“Probationary Evaluation”), ECF No. 54-1 at 16.[2] On August 15, 2010, she was promoted from a Grade 11, Step 3 position to a Grade 12, Step 1 position, which included a $9, 455 annual salary increase. Def.'s SMF ¶ 4; Pl.'s Mem. Opp'n Def.'s Mot. Summ. J. (“Pl.'s Opp'n”) at 1, ECF No. 46-1; Def.'s Mot., Ex. 4, Notification of Personnel Action (“Personnel Action”), ECF No. 54-1 at 19. In 2012, she was promoted to a Senior Crime Analyst, in which position she remains today. Pl.'s Opp'n at 1; Pl.'s Opp'n, Ex. 26, Deposition of Yolanda Pauling (“Pl.'s Dep.”) at 4, ECF No. 47-11. The plaintiff maintains workstations at the MPD Headquarters office and at the Fourth District office. Amended Compl. (“Compl.”) ¶ 16, ECF No. 14.

         The plaintiff's troubles appear to have started in 2010, after a workplace incident caused her to suffer chronic back pain. The facts associated with that incident, as well as the plaintiff's subsequent requests for accommodations, are detailed below.

         A. The March 2010 Incident and Subsequent Requests for Accommodations

         Since 2010, the plaintiff has suffered “spasms of the neck and back as well as nerve damage which causes her to experience chronic pain.” Pl.'s Opp'n at 1. These conditions are allegedly the result an injury the plaintiff sustained on March 18, 2010, when her coworker, Tracy Parker, “pulled on the back of [her] chair, while she was using it, causing Ms. Pauling to suffer a whiplash effect throughout her spinal column.” Id. at 1-2. The plaintiff testified to an MPD investigator that she immediately went to see her supervisor, Raymond Wickline, after the incident. Def.'s Mot., Ex. 10, Memorandum from MPD Command Info. Ctr. to MPD Ass't Chief of Police (“MPD Investigation Memo”), ECF No. 54-1 at 60. The plaintiff stated that Wickline “tried to offer some comfort and offered a seat” and that when she went into his office she was “shaking and almost crying.” Id.; see also Pl.'s Dep. at 23. The plaintiff further testified that Wickline “did not offer [ ] any medical attention at that time, nor did he fill out a risk management report.” Pl.'s Dep. at 23. According to Wickline, he “asked if she was okay and if she needed a doctor.” MPD Investigation Memo, ECF No. 54-1 at 57. The plaintiff then left work to go to the hospital and, as a result of her injury, took disability leave for the next three months, until June 14, 2010. Pl.'s Opp'n at 2; Pl.'s Opp'n, Ex. 37, Email from Pl. to Wickline, March 19, 2010 (“3/19/10, 5:10 p.m. Email”), ECF No. 47-22 at 1.[3]

         Around one week after the incident, the plaintiff asked Wickline for the status of her worker's compensation request. Pl.'s Opp'n, Ex. 38, Email from Pl. to Wickline, March 23, 2010 (“3/23/10, 9:09 a.m. Email”), ECF No. 47-23 at 4. Wickline informed the plaintiff that he had “call[ed] in an initial report” and had “asked for statements from those involved or who were witness to the incident, ” but that he was away on vacation and any further paperwork would be delayed until his return. Pl.'s Opp'n, Ex. 38, Email from Wickline to Pl., March 23, 2010 (“3/23/10, 9:46 a.m. Email”), ECF No. 47-23 at 3. The next day, the plaintiff emailed MPD Assistant Chief Alfred Durham, Jr., to request his assistance with “instituting an adequate investigation and the enforcement of the necessary paperwork” related to her accident and her request for worker's compensation. Pl.'s Opp'n, Ex. 37, Email from Pl. to Alfred Durham, March 24, 2010 (“3/24/10, 1:13 p.m. Email”), ECF No. 47-22 at 2.

         In April 2010, the plaintiff allegedly requested an accommodation for her disability. Specifically, in a later-filed Charge of Discrimination with the District of Columbia Office of Human Rights (“OHR”), the plaintiff averred that in April 2010 she “requested an ergonomic assessment for [her] dual workstations” at the Fourth District and Headquarters offices; “a foot stand; a glare-reducing computer monitor; ergonomic chairs; an ergonomic mouse; a headset; and a walking cane.” Def.'s Mot., Ex. 1, Pl.'s OHR Charge of Discrimination (“OHR Compl.”), ECF No. 54-1 at 6. The plaintiff also asked to be transferred to an office location with an elevator, as the Fourth District did not have one, and to be able to work from home. Id. On April 14, 2010, a doctor with the District of Columbia Office of Risk Management (“ORM”) Disability Compensation Program completed a report of the plaintiff's injury and disability. Pl.'s Opp'n, Ex. 30, Plaintiff's Medical Records (“Medical Records”), ECF No. 52-1 at 3. The report recommended an ergonomic chair and physical therapy and was accompanied by a prescription for an “ergonomic assessment-chair, keyboard, foot stand.” Id. at 4-5. On April 22, 2010, a different physician completed a second report, noting that the plaintiff was instructed to work from home from May 10, 2010, until May 14, 2010. Id. at 6-7. That same day, the plaintiff emailed Wickline several forms that she averred had to be completed by Wickline for her worker's compensation request. Def.'s Mot., Ex. 7, Email from Pl. to Wickline, April 22, 2010 (“4/22/10, 12:28 p.m. Email”), ECF No. 54-1 at 48.

         On May 10, 2010, Wickline emailed the plaintiff after he learned she was planning her return to work. Def.'s Mot., Ex. 7, Email from Wickline to Pl., May 10, 2010 (“5/10/10, 10:40 a.m. Email”), ECF No. 54-1 at 48. He informed her that “[a]ll plans to work from home must be approved by the supervisor ahead of time” and that “[a]ny time you are out for more than 3 days, a Doctor's note must be made available to your supervisor to ensure you are cleared to return.” Id. He also noted that he was waiting for her to send him certain forms and that once she returned, they would have additional forms to complete. Id. Finally, Wickline acknowledged that he had heard the plaintiff's doctor “ha[d] prescribed an ergonomic chair, and noted that “[i]f this is the case, I need to get a copy of that paperwork as well so we can start a procurement on the necessary equipment.” Id. In response, the plaintiff sent forms that she claimed to have sent “weeks ago” and noted that she would forward a copy of her doctor's note. Def.'s Mot., Ex. 6, Email from Pl. to Wickline, May 10, 2010 (“5/10/10, 1:58 p.m. Email”), ECF 54-1 at 46. She also claimed that she had been “ordered by [her] doctor to work from home for recovery purposes” and that if Wickline had any questions, he could contact her doctor directly. Id. The plaintiff appears to have sent “a copy of the doctor's order for an ergonomic assessment for equipment” to Wickline later that day. Pl.'s Opp'n, Ex. 15, Email from Pl. to Wickline, May 10, 2010 (“5/10/10, 11:48 p.m. Email”), ECF No. 46-16 at 2.

         The next day, Wickline responded to the plaintiff, asking her to “just stop and listen for a second.” Def.'s Mot., Ex. 8, Email from Wickline to Pl., May 11, 2010 (“5/11/10, 6:38 a.m. Email”), ECF No. 54-1 at 50. He stated that she had sent these forms to him “many, many, many times, ” but that he had “already filled them out and made copies available to everyone who has wanted or needed one.” Id. He noted that he was still waiting for her to provide a completed “F1 form” for his signature, an indication “of when you plan to return to work, ” and “[a] copy of a Doctor's note clearing you to return to work.” Id. Wickline also clarified that if the plaintiff intended to work from home, she needed to “submit a plan for what you will be doing and I need to approve this ahead of time per branch policy.” Id. As for the plaintiff's prescription for an ergonomic assessment, Wickline explained that MPD “do[es] not provide assessments for medical needs” but that, if the prescription identified the equipment she needed, he would “see when the equipment will be available.” Id.

         On May 12, 2010, the plaintiff sent her completed “Form 1” to Wickline and told him that she would send him a copy of her doctor's order. Pl.'s Opp'n, Ex. 15, Email from Pl. to Wickline, May 12, 2010 (“5/12/10, 7:25 p.m. Email”), ECF No. 46-16 at 39. She also asked Wickline to send her the “standard form that I need to fill out for my request to work from home.” Id. Wickline responded that “Form 3” still needed to be filled out by her physician and needed to be accompanied by a doctor's note clearing her to return to work. Pl.'s Opp'n, Ex. 15, Email from Wickline to Pl., May 13, 2010 (“5/13/10, 11:02 a.m. Email”), ECF No. 46-16 at 39. He then informed the plaintiff that “there are no standard forms for requesting working from home” but that “a plan must be submitted detailing what will be accomplished, why it needs to be accomplished from home and a plan for monitoring the accomplishments. That plan must be approved by the supervisor before an employee can work from home.” Id. He also expressed concern that “if your health will not permit you to sit at a desk and work on a computer at an MPD location, then sitting at a desk and working on a computer at home is not going to be good for your back either.” Id.

         On June 11, 2010, the plaintiff emailed Commander James Crane informing him that she was “in the process of getting clearance from [her] doctor to return to work on Monday, June 14, 2010.” Pl.'s Opp'n, Ex. 36, Email from Pl. to Crane, June 11, 2010 (“6/11/10, 10:59 a.m. Email”), ECF No. 47-21 at 1. In her email, she reminded Crane of certain requests she had previously made in a phone interview with him: that she be accommodated with a “safe environment, ” that her “manager and coworker need to be held accountable for their actions to prevent future work place violence incidents, ” that she be able to “work at a location that has an elevator, ” that she receive “[s]pecialized equipment to accommodate [her] back injury, ” that her sick leave hours be restored, and that she “not work in a hostile work environment and [ ] not be a victim of work retaliation, ” among other requests. Id. Crane responded later that day, informing her that she needed to provide “a doctor's note specifying what equipment is needed as well as appropriate worker's comp paperwork clearing the return to work.” Pl.'s Opp'n, Ex. 36, Email from Crane to Pl., June 11, 2010 (“6/11/10, 4:15 p.m. Email”), ECF No. 47-21 at 1. He also instructed her to report to the Crime Analysis office at Headquarters, as that location had an elevator. Id.

         Around June 22, 2010, the plaintiff filed an internal EEO complaint alleging that MPD had failed to accommodate her disability. Def.'s SMF ¶ 11 (undisputed). According to the plaintiff's later-filed OHR Charge of Discrimination, that complaint also included allegations “about the office horseplay, the offensive environment and also about the lack of disability accommodations.” OHR Compl., ECF No. 54-1 at 6.

         On June 25, 2010, the plaintiff forwarded her doctor's notes to Alphonso Lee, an EEO Counselor with MPD. Def.'s Mot., Ex. 10-A, Email from Pl. to Lee, June 25, 2010 (“6/25/10, 10:17 a.m. Email”), ECF No. 54-1 at 68. In response, Lee asked the plaintiff whether her doctor had given her an ergonomic evaluation and, as Wickline had previously done, notified her that the evaluation was “[her] responsibility to obtain.” Def.'s Mot., Ex. 10-A, Email from Lee to Pl., June 25, 2010 (“6/25/10, 10:22 a.m. Email”), ECF No. 54-1 at 68. After the plaintiff stated that she had not received an ergonomic evaluation and that she “wasn't aware that [she] was responsible for this because this incident occurred at work, ” Def.'s Mot., Ex. 10-A, Email from Pl. to Lee, June 25, 2010 (“6/25/10, 10:23 a.m. Email”), ECF No. 54-1 at 67-68, Lee clarified that “[t]he ergonomic assessment can only be done if your doctor indicates specifically what you need” and that the document she had provided “d[id] not indicate any specific accommodation needed, ” Def.'s Mot., Ex. 10-A, Email from Lee to Pl., June 25, 2010 (“6/25/10, 10:32 a.m. Email”), ECF No. 54-1 at 67. The plaintiff responded that, in her understanding, “once the ergonomic evaluation is done, this would encompass the necessary equipment that is needed, ” and asked for an update on the status of her EEO investigation. Def.'s Mot., Ex. 10-A, Email from Pl. to Lee, June 25, 2010 (“6/25/10, 10:43 a.m. Email”), ECF No. 54-1 at 67. Lee informed the plaintiff that her assault allegation was being investigated and that her “other concerns did not meet the elements of [a] prima facie case under EEO laws.” Pl.'s Opp'n, Ex. 40, Email from Lee to Pl., June 25, 2010 (“6/25/10, 10:52 a.m. Email”), ECF No. 47-25 at 6.

         On July 13, 2010, Lee checked in on the plaintiff, asking whether her workstation ergonomic assessment had been “conducted and formalized to determine what accommodations” she needed. Pl.'s Opp'n, Ex. 40, Email from Lee to Pl., July 13, 2010 (“7/13/10, 3:24 p.m. Email”), ECF No. 47-25 at 5. The next day, the plaintiff responded that no assessment had been performed and that “nothing has been done by [her] management and staff.” Pl.'s Opp'n, Ex. 40, Email from Pl. to Lee, July 14, 2010 (“7/14/10, 7:47 a.m. Email”), ECF No. 47-25 at 6. She also asked, again, about her pending investigation, id., and Lee stated he would “contact with Human Resources and assist them in carrying out your ergonomic assessment of your workstation to prevent any delay, ” Pl.'s Opp'n, Ex. 40, Email from Lee to Pl., July 14, 2010 (“7/14/10, 4:49 p.m. Email”), ECF No. 47-25 at 5.

         Two days later, on July 16, 2010, Lee asked the plaintiff to fill out a Reasonable Accommodation Request Form “in order to accurately determine what accommodations are needed per your physician's direction” and clarified that her doctor should fill out that form. Pl.'s Opp'n, Ex. 15, Email from Lee to Pl., July 16, 2010 (“7/16/10, 10:38 a.m. Email”), ECF 46-16 at 47; Pl.'s Opp'n, Ex. 15, Email from Lee to Pl., July 16, 2010 (“7/16/10, 1:27 p.m. Email”), ECF No. 46-16 at 46-47. In response, the plaintiff asked for an “explanation as to why the ergonomic assessment was not processed timely.” Pl.'s Opp'n, Ex. 15, Email from Pl. to Lee, July 16, 2010 (“7/16/10, 5:32 p.m. Email”), ECF No. 46-16 at 46. Lee responded that “the necessary steps have been put in place to have your ergonomic assessment/evaluation completed pending your physician's explanation of what your disability needs in order to perform your essential job duties.” Pl.'s Opp'n, Ex. 15, Email from Lee to Pl., July 19, 2010 (“7/19/10, 8:35 a.m. Email”), ECF No. 46-16 at 46. According to Lee, the plaintiff had provided to him and to Human Resources “the same document that only request [sic] the ergonomic assessment, but not the actual reasonable accommodation (i.e. chair, stand etc.) that your physician deems necessary. You also stated that you have not informed your supervisor, Mr. Wickline, specifically on what items are needed to perform your essential job duties.” Id. Lee noted that “[u]pon submission of the Reasonable Accommodation Form, there will be a timely ergonomic assessment.” Id.

         In two successive emails to Lee, the plaintiff took issue with these statements, stating that she had “submitted previous documentation to HR and [Wickline] regarding the necessary equipment needed, ” Pl.'s Opp'n, Ex. 15, Email from Pl. to Lee, July 19, 2010 (“7/19/10, 9:06 a.m. Email”), ECF No. 46-16 at 45, and that Lee's July 16, 2010, email “was the first time [she] had been put on notice and aware that the Reasonable Assessment Request Form was needed in order to start the process for the evaluation and/or equipment necessities, ” Pl.'s Opp'n, Ex. 15, Email from Pl. to Lee, July 19, 2010 (“7/19/10, 9:29 a.m. Email”), ECF No. 46-16 at 45. The plaintiff further averred that “[t]his is why I have filed with the EEO regarding my claim [Racial Discrimination, Hostile Work Environment, HIPPA Violation, Disciplinary Action, Work Place Violence and Harassment] because my management staff has neglected to follow proper protocol and procedures. Instead of them investigating and handling the case/incident they have made it very difficult for me to recuperate and work in a safe and secured environment.” 7/19/10, 9:29 a.m. Email, ECF No. 46-16 at 45 (brackets in original).

         On July 26, 2010, the plaintiff filled out a Reasonable Accommodation Request Form, requesting an “[e]rgonomic evaluation ‘station' to accommodate computer, desk, chair w/ armrest, foot rests, phone (head set), ergonomic mouse, tracking mat, monitor proper position w/ screen to reduce glare; cane.” Def.'s Mot., Ex. 13, Reasonable Accommodation Request Form, July 26, 2010 (“July 2010 Accommodation Request”), ECF No. 54-1 at 75. On September 17, 2010, the plaintiff followed up with Sharon Vaughan-Roach, MPD's Diversity Manager, asking for “the status of the ergonomic assessment evaluation for which was requested since May/June 2010.” Def.'s Mot., Ex. 14, Email from Pl. to Vaughan-Roach, Sept. 17, 2010 (“9/17/10, 9:58 a.m. Email”), ECF No. 54-1 at 77. The same day, Vaughn-Roach responded that, “[a]s previously stated in several prior email correspondences, once I receive official documentation from your doctor . . . stating the degree of your impairment (i.e. whether it is a disability and if it is temporary or permanent) then an ergonomic assessment may be conducted if warranted.” Def.'s Mot., Ex. 14, Email from Vaughan-Roach to Pl., Sept. 17, 2010 (“9/17/10, 10:20 a.m. Email”), ECF No. 54-1 at 77.

         On October 3, 2010, the plaintiff's colleague Brandy Cramer emailed a group of employees including the plaintiff informing them that “[i]f anyone else in the office is requiring special accommodations in regards to chairs, etc. Please let me know and I will forward the contact information to you in order to go through the formal process and get a chair to meet your needs specifically.” Pl.'s Opp'n, Ex. 32, Email from Cramer to Pl., et al., Oct. 3, 2010 (“10/3/10, 3:22 p.m. Email”), ECF No. 47-17 at 15. The plaintiff immediately responded that she was requesting a chair. Pl.'s Opp'n, Ex. 32, Email from Pl. to Cramer, Oct. 3, 2010 (“10/3/10, 3:25 p.m. Email”), ECF No. 47-17 at 15. Cramer then asked whether the plaintiff needed her to send the contact information or if she “already ha[d] it in the works.” Pl.'s Opp'n, Ex. 32, Email from Cramer to Pl., Oct. 3, 2010 (“10/3/10, 3:35 p.m. Email”), ECF No. 47-17 at 15. It is unclear whether the plaintiff responded, but Cramer later explained that the “[f]irst step is to create a memo specifying what and why with a letter from you [sic] doctor.” Pl.'s Opp'n, Ex. 33, Email from Cramer to Pl., Oct. 3, 2010 (“10/3/10, 3:40 p.m. Email”), ECF No. 47-18 at 1.

         On October 12, 2010, the plaintiff wrote to her supervisor and several other MPD officials, formally requesting a transfer from the Crime Analysis Division to the Intelligence Section Division, “[d]ue to the workplace incident that resulted in [her] back injury that occurred on March 18, 2010 at MPD headquarters and the refusal of reasonable accommodations for the necessary equipment for [her] medical condition.” Pl.'s Opp'n, Ex. 35, Employee Transfer Request (“Transfer Request”), ECF No. 47-20 at 4. According to the plaintiff, the open position in the Intelligence Section Division to which she applied was eventually filled by Daniel Hall, a junior analyst whom the plaintiff, a senior analyst, had trained. Pl.'s Dep. at 77.

         On October 15, 2010, Lee submitted an “Exit Letter” to OHR summarizing his final counseling interview with the plaintiff and stating the EEO office's determinations. Def.'s Mot., Ex. 15, Exit Letter to D.C. Office of Human Rights (“OHR Exit Letter”), ECF No. 54-1 at 79. As to the March 18, 2010, “alleged ‘assault, '” the EEO office determined that “[t]his is a criminal matter and not administrative” and noted that Commander Crane was overseeing an investigation of that incident. Id. Her claims of an “alleged delay in filing worker's compensation” and of an “alleged HIPPA law violation” were deemed “not [ ] EEO matter[s], ” and her retaliation claim was “a Labor Department issue and not an EEO matter.” Id. As for her claims that she would be disciplined for her actions, the EEO office noted that “Ms. Pauling is alleging that she may get reprimanded because of her complaints” but that “[s]he indicated as of present she has suffered no adverse action.” Id. (emphasis in original). Finally, the EEO office stated that the plaintiff's reasonable accommodation claim was “currently being addressed by the MPD pending Ms. Pauling's Physician's communication that she has a temporary or permanent disability.” Id.

         In November 2010, Wickline allegedly offered the plaintiff two ergonomic chairs, both of which she declined. Pl.'s Dep. at 35-37. She rejected the first chair because it “had feces on it.” Id. at 35. According to the plaintiff, that chair “had a hazardous sign sitting in the back of the office, ” “it sat in there for about a month, ” and “you could smell it when you came in the office.” Id. at 37. On December 2, 2010, the plaintiff called the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) to have the chair removed, and OSHA's subsequent report indicated that a “Soiled Chair” had been “removed and placed in the dumpster.” Pl.'s Dep. at 37; Pl.'s Opp'n, Ex. 23, Letter from Thomas Herbert (OSHA) to Edson Ogunshakin (Dep't of Real Estate Servs.) (“OSHA Inspection Report”), ECF No. 47-8 at 2. The plaintiff stated that she rejected the second chair because it was “unsanitized” and because “the same person who made feces at work” had previously used that chair. Pl.'s Dep. at 35-36. The plaintiff testified that when Wickline provided this second chair to her, he told her, “Here's a chair for you. The one over there, Steve had a accident in it. Ha, ha, ha, ” and told her that “if you take this chair, you've just got to clean it off.” Id. at 35.

         On December 30, 2010, the plaintiff filed a complaint with OHR alleging that MPD had discriminated against her on the basis of race, gender, and disability; had retaliated against her for protected activity; and had failed to accommodate her disability. Def.'s SMF ¶ 1 (undisputed); OHR Compl., ECF No. 54-1 at 5-6. Specifically, the plaintiff claimed that Wickline had allowed male employees “to pass around lewd photos, hang a swastika in the office, and to joke around about ‘right wing power.'” OHR Compl., ECF No. 54-1 at 5. She alleged that after she returned to work from disability leave, “[her] supervisor and coworkers were giving [her] the silent treatment and began to exclude [her] from staff meetings and data sharing.” Id. She also mentioned that Wickline had given her “an ergonomic desk chair that had been soiled and told [her] to clean the chair, ” after first providing her with “a feces-stained ergonomic chair.” Id. Finally, she claimed that white employees who had made similar accommodation requests received their accommodations without delay, and that after filing her EEO complaint, she had “suffered a silent treatment” in the office and had her “workload increasingly diverted to a white, male colleague.” Id. at 6.

         In August 2011, the plaintiff designated a union representative and her union completed a “Member's Data Intake” report. Pl.'s Opp'n, Ex. 15, Member's Data Intake (“Union Report”), ECF No. 46-16 at 23. In her narrative, the plaintiff explained that she was “filing a grievance based on the premises that I have requested to be transferred (detailed) to work in the Criminal Intelligence Unit, since I filed a complaint against my management staff in 2010 because I am being subjected to work in a hostile and retaliatory work environment.” Id. In that report, she resubmitted her request for a transfer to the Intelligence Division. Id.

         On January 3, 2012, OHR issued a final determination on the plaintiff's complaint, finding probable cause as to only her reasonable accommodation claim. Def.'s SMF ¶ 2; Def.'s Mot., Ex. 2, Determination on Respondent's Request for Reconsideration (“OHR Final Decision”), ECF No. 54-1 at 12-13. OHR concluded that probable cause existed for her reasonable accommodation claim, based on “several communications” by the ADA coordinator with Complainant and Complainant's doctor “to determine whether Complainant's disability was temporary or permanent in nature.” Id. at 12. The “Complainant's doctor notes that, in accordance with her restrictions, she should use an ergonomic chair and limit both walking and standing, ” but “Respondent did not timely provide Complainant information on Respondent's formal and informal procedures for requesting an accommodation.” Id. In addition, OHR found that “[t]he Supervisory Analyst's testimony and corroborating e-mails indicate that the ergonomic chair had been selected without any consultation with Complainant as to whether it matched her documented medical need.” Id. As for the other claims, OHR determined that the “hostile work environment allegations do not show a connection with her protected classes of race, sex and disability, ” that “there is no showing of the severity and pervasiveness for a hostile environment, ” and that the plaintiff had “fail[ed] to produce evidence” relevant to her retaliation claim. Id. at 13.

         B. Requests for Accommodations after the OHR Determination

         Little activity is documented in the record until June 6, 2012, when the plaintiff again reached out to Lee to ask about the “status of [her] reasonable accommodations that was requested two years ago.” Pl.'s Opp'n, Ex. 15, Email from Pl. to Lee, June 6, 2012 (“6/6/12, 10:48 a.m. Email”), ECF No. 46-16 at 69. Lee responded that he would “re-contact the necessary parties responsible for conducting the ergonomic evaluations” and he also asked if the plaintiff was “aware of any specific items you need for your workstation that can be ordered that have not been provided to you as of yet?” Pl.'s Opp'n, Ex. 15, Email from Lee to Pl., June 6, 2012 (“6/6/12, 11:14 a.m. Email”), ECF No. 46-16 at 68. The plaintiff did not respond with specific items but rather forwarded Lee a copy of a “Reasonable Accommodation Request Form that was submitted to [his] office on November 4, 2010, ” and also informed him that she had not yet had an ergonomic evaluation. Pl.'s Opp'n, Ex. 15, Email from Pl. to Lee, June 7, 2012 (“6/7/12, 10:34 a.m. Email”), ECF No. 46-16 at 68.

         On June 11, 2012, Lee informed the plaintiff that she had been granted the “alternative reasonable accommodation of Telecommuting” and instructed her to “contact Captain Lamont Coleman, the Telecommuting Coordinator, to ascertain the appropriate documentation/forms to begin a telecommuting/‘work from home' program to accommodate [her] current medical condition.” Pl.'s Opp'n, Ex. 15, Email from Lee to Pl., June 11, 2012 (“6/11/12, 5:29 p.m. Email”), ECF No. 46-16 at 67. Three days later, on June 14, 2012, Lee followed up to see whether the plaintiff thought the proffered temporary telecommuting accommodation was satisfactory, Pl.'s Opp'n, Ex. 15, Email from Lee to Pl., June 14, 2012 (“6/14/12, 2:04 p.m. Email”) at 66, ECF No. 46-16, but the plaintiff responded that she had “not received any formal package yet from Captain Coleman, ” despite Lee's clear instruction that she should reach out to Coleman to obtain the package, Pl.'s Opp'n, Ex. 15, Email from Pl. to Lee, June 14, 2012 (“6/14/12, 3:08 p.m. Email”), ECF No. 46-16 at 66. Lee offered to “ascertain an update regarding the application packet” and reiterated that “it is anticipated that the telecommute initiative would be temporary until the ergonomic assessment was completed.” Pl.'s Opp'n, Ex. 15, Email from Lee to Pl., June 14, 2012 (“6/14/12, 3:22 p.m. Email”), ECF No. 46-16 at 65. He also informed the plaintiff that “[t]he securing of the ergonomic assessment is now pending” and asked her to provide “[a]n update from your doctor regarding your limitations performing your duties and whether your medical condition is permanent or temporary, ” as that information still had not been furnished. Id. The same day, Lee sent the plaintiff the Telecommuting Application and again informed her that she should send this application to Captain Coleman. Pl.'s Opp'n, Ex. 15, Email from Lee to Pl., June 14, 2012 (“6/14/12, 3:50 p.m. Email”) at 57, ECF No. 46-16. The next morning, the plaintiff again asked for the “appropriate forms and/or paperwork” for her reasonable accommodations request. Pl.'s Opp'n, Ex. 15, Email from Pl. to Lee, June 15, 2012 (“6/15/12, 10:09 a.m. Email”), ECF No. 46-16 at 65. Almost two weeks later, the plaintiff again requested that Lee “send [her] the form(s) that needs to be completed by the doctors” and, in response, Lee sent over another Reasonable Accommodation Form the same day. Pl.'s Opp'n, Ex. 15, Email from Pl. to Lee, June 26, 2012 (“6/26/12, 3:16 p.m. Email”), ECF No. 46-16 at 64-65; Pl.'s Opp'n, Ex. 15, Email from Lee to Pl., June 26, 2012 (“6/26/12, 6:42 p.m. Email”), ECF No. 46-16 at 46.

         The next communications took place two months later, on August 28, 2012, when the plaintiff emailed Lee a completed “form from the Workers Compensation doctor regarding Reasonable Accommodations.” Pl.'s Opp'n, Ex. 15, Email from Pl. to Lee, Aug. 28, 2012 (“8/28/12, 11:16 a.m. Email”), ECF No. 46-16 at 63. In response, Lee asked her to confirm the “date of diagnosis” for her injuries, and the plaintiff clarified that “[t]he diagnosis happened in January 2012, ” nearly two years after the chair-pulling incident. Pl.'s Opp'n, Ex. 15, Email from Lee to Pl., Aug. 28, 2012 (“8/28/12, 11:43 a.m. Email”), ECF No. 46-16 at 63; Pl.'s Opp'n, Ex. 15, Email from Pl. to Lee, Aug. 28, 2012 (“8/28/12, 12:46 p.m. Email”), ECF No. 46-16 at 63. A week later, on September 6, 2012, the plaintiff emailed Lee to ask for an update on the status of her request. Pl.'s Opp'n, Ex. 15, Email from Pl. to Lee, Sept. 6, 2012 (“9/6/12, 12:36 p.m. Email”), ECF No. 46-16 at 63. Lee, in turn, asked if she had begun telecommuting, and the plaintiff replied that she had not. Pl.'s Opp'n, Ex. 15, Email from Lee to Pl., Sept. 6, 2012 (“9/6/12, 2:09 p.m. Email”), ECF No. 46-16 at 62; Pl.'s Opp'n, Ex. 15, Email from Pl. to Lee, Sept. 6, 2012 (“9/6/12, 2:18 p.m. Email”), ECF No. 46-16 at 62. The plaintiff also claimed, in a later email to a new supervisor, that she had submitted a “request to telecommute for five days” per week in September 2012. Pl.'s Opp'n, Ex. 15, Email from Pl. to Matthew Bromeland, Apr. 12, 2013 (“4/12/13, 7:54 a.m. Email”), ECF No. 46-16 at 81. She was allegedly informed that “MPD does not permit 5 days of telecommuting” but that if she submitted a doctor's note stating that she needed to do so, her request would be honored. Id.

         On January 28, 2013, the plaintiff wrote to Patrick Burke, MPD's Assistant Chief of the Homeland Security Division, to “follow up on our meeting of Thursday, January 24, 2013 in your office concerning my medical reasonable accommodation requests, the temporary solution suggested by the HR & EEO departments (Telecommuting) and the hostile workplace environment I have been continually subjected to by Raymond Wickline.” Pl.'s Opp'n, Ex. 34, Email from Pl. to Burke, Jan. 28, 2013 (“1/28/13, 9:18 a.m. Email”), ECF No. 47-19 at 1. The plaintiff averred that she “submitted a completed Telecommuting form to Mr. Lee's attention” on September 17, 2012, and that on January 10, 2013, she had been advised to complete additional telecommuting forms. Id. She further stated that on January 15, 2013, she submitted those forms to Wickline so that he could fill out the supervisor's section, but that on January 17, 2013, Wickline emailed “all the analysts in [her] unit indicating ‘For the time being, there will be no telecommuting or returning to Districts until further notice.'” Id. The plaintiff alerted Burke to her request to “work five days per week from home, ” id. at 2, and also reiterated concerns about a hostile work environment that she allegedly raised to Burke in an October 2010 meeting, including Wickline's habits of “[u]ndermining [her] work performance and personal integrity, ” “[w]ithholding information from [her], ” “[c]onstantly keeping [her] out of the loop on data sharing information, ” “[m]aking insulting or offensive remarks about [her] medical healthcare status, ” and “[s]tarting, or failing to stop, destructive rumors or gossip amongst [her] coworkers, ” among other complaints. Id. at 3.

         On February 21, 2013, Wickline notified the plaintiff that “[t]he Department is ready to conduct the requested ergonomic assessment for your workspace” and attempted to coordinate a date for the assessments to be completed at both of the plaintiff's workstations. Pl.'s Opp'n, Ex. 15, Email from Wickline to Pl., Feb. 21, 2013 (“2/21/13, 10:43 a.m. Email”), ECF 46-16 at 79. He also requested a doctor's note clearing her return to work after her scheduled “procedure.” Id. The plaintiff and Lee then unsuccessfully attempted to coordinate a date for the assessment, causing the plaintiff to reach out to Diana Haines-Walton, MPD's Director of Human Resources, for assistance and for an update on her telecommuting application. Pl.'s Opp'n, Ex. 15, Email from Pl. to Haines-Walton, Mar. 4, 2013 (“3/4/13, 12:57 p.m. Email”), ECF No. 46-16 at 77. Haines-Walton informed the plaintiff and Lee that she recommended “tabl[ing] the telecommuting reuquest [sic] until after the assessment, ” since “the ergonomic assessment will be taking place shortly.” Pl.'s Opp'n, Ex. 15, Email from Haines-Walton to Pl., Mar. 4, 2013 (“3/4/13, 3:57 p.m. Email”), ECF No. 46-16 at 77. Lee, in turn, informed the plaintiff that he had reached out to the ergonomist for his availability. Pl.'s Opp'n, Ex. 15, Email from Lee to Pl., Mar. 4, 2013 (“3/4/13, 5:08 p.m. Email”), ECF No. 46-16 at 76.

         One week later, on March 11, 2013, the plaintiff again requested an update and, three days later, sent another email to Lee, Haines-Walton, and two other MPD officials detailing her repeated efforts for accommodations and asking Lee to provide her with an update by March 18, 2013. Pl.'s Opp'n, Ex. 15, Email from Pl. to Lee, Mar. 11, 2013 (“3/11/13, 11:10 a.m. Email”), ECF No. 46-16 at 72; Pl.'s Opp'n, Ex. 15, Email from Pl. to Lee, et al., Mar. 14, 2013 (“3/14/13, 9:22 a.m. Email”), ECF No. 46-16 at 71. In response, Haines-Walton stated that the ergonomic assessment was “imminent” and another MPD official, Jacob Major, notified the plaintiff that Lee had “sent several e-mails in the last few days informing everyone that the EEO Office was waiting for the Ergonomist to provide his available dates.” Pl.'s Opp'n, Ex. 15, Email from Haines-Walton to Pl., Mar. 14, 2013 (“3/14/13, 2:57 p.m. Email”), ECF No. 46-16 at 71; Pl.'s Opp'n, Ex. 15, Email from Jacob Major to Pl., Mar. 14, 2013 (“3/14/13, 3:21 p.m. Email”), ECF No. 46-16 at 70-71. Around this time, Matthew Bromeland replaced Raymond Wickline as the plaintiff's supervisor. Pl.'s Opp'n, Ex. 15, Email from Bromeland to Pl., Mar. 15, 2013 (“3/15/13, 10:35 a.m. Email”), ECF No. 46-16 at 70.

         The plaintiff's ergonomic assessment was conducted on March 26, 2013. Def.'s SMF ¶ 19 (undisputed); Pl.'s Opp'n, Ex. 25, J. Thomas Pierce Ergonomics Evaluation (“Ergonomic Evaluation”), ECF No. 47-10 at 3. The ergonomist recommended “a more ergonomically adjustable chair, ” “use of the chair's arm rests, ” and “provision of a foot rest/support.” Id. According to the plaintiff's testimony, she received a footstool and an ergonomic keyboard in April 2013. ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.