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Rhodes v. Superior Court of District of Columbia

United States District Court, District of Columbia

March 29, 2018

EDWARD RHODES, Plaintiff,
v.
SUPERIOR COURT OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          JOHN D. BATES United States District Judge.

         This matter is before the Court on Defendants' Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's Amended Complaint With Prejudice (ECF No. 12). For the reasons discussed below, the Court will grant the motion in part and deny it in part.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff, who is visually impaired, held the position of Deputy Clerk in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia (“Superior Court”) from March 25, 2002 until his termination on September 2, 2016. Am. Compl. ¶¶ 1, 3. According to plaintiff, defendants discriminated against him because of his visual disability in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”), 42 U.S.C. §§ 12112-12117, and because of his political activity in violation of the Hatch Act, 5 U.S.C. §§ 7321-7326.

         ADA Claim

         Plaintiff has a visual impairment, see Am. Compl. ¶¶ 1, and informed his employer of his disability in 2002, id. ¶ 5. To accommodate his disability, plaintiff requested a 36-inch computer monitor on unspecified dates in 2014 and 2015. Id. Instead, plaintiff received a 27-inch monitor, id. ¶ 6, which was “reconfigure[d] . . . to accommodate [his] visual impairment, ” id. ¶ 8, by enlarging the font size, see Defs.' Mem. of P. & A. in Support of their Mot. to Dismiss Pl.'s Am. Compl. (“Defs.' Mem.”) at 2. When the Superior Court “replaced all computers in 2015, ” plaintiff asked “those who installed the new computers” to arrange the same reconfiguration he had been provided before as an accommodation for his disability. Am. Compl. ¶ 9. In November 2015, when “IT personnel . . . inspected [plaintiff's new] computer, ” they allegedly “ignored [plaintiff's] request to reconfigure [it] as an accommodation.” Id. ¶ 11. Because the new computer had not been reconfigured, see id. ¶¶ 9-12, plaintiff “had trouble seeing with [the 27-inch] monitor, ” id. ¶ 14. As a result, “[b]ecause the smaller screen did not allow [plaintiff] to see properly, [his] work was graded unfavorably.” Id.

         Plaintiff filed an EEOC complaint on September 13, 2016. Id. ¶ 15; see Defs.' Mem., Ex. 1 (EEOC Charge of Discrimination No. 570-2016-02201) at 1. He checked the box indicating disability as the basis of his discrimination claim and stated that the alleged acts of discrimination took place between August 25, 2016 and September 13, 2016. Defs.' Mem., Ex. 1 at 1. The narrative portion of the charge read:

I was hired by the Superior Court of the District of Columbia in February 2002 as a courtroom clerk but actually worked as a deputy clerk. I requested an accommodation due to my disability several months after I began which I was granted until approximately Fall of 2015, in the form of larger font on my monitor. Around Fall of 2015 however, everyone received new monitors, and my computer monitor was no longer configured to have the larger font I had prior. I attempted to rectify this several times, however my monitor was never reconfigured to accommodate me after this point despite numerous requests. Due to no longer having my requested accommodation, I struggled in my regular duties and was given negative evaluations. In August 2016 I was notified that I will soon be terminated.
I believe I was discriminated against based on my disability in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, as amended.

Id., Ex. 1 at 1.

         Hatch Act Claim

         Plaintiff held an elected position as an Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner. See Am. Compl. ¶ 17. According to plaintiff, his supervisor “harassed [him] and told [him] that [he] needed to stop [his] political activity as an [ANC C]ommissioner.” Id. Although plaintiff does not describe the nature of his political activity, he attributes the denial of a promotion in 2009 to this activity. Id. ¶ 18. And when plaintiff did not resign his ANC position, his supervisor in 2012 allegedly “placed [him] in a job” knowing that plaintiff “would not be able to perform [its] duties, ” id. ¶ 19, and plaintiff “received less than favorable job evaluations, ” id. ¶ 20.

         Plaintiff demands reinstatement, the promotion he was denied in 2009, benefits, back pay, and monetary damages of $10 million. ...


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