United States District Court, District of Columbia
PAULETTE A. WILLIAMS, Plaintiff,
MEGAN J. BRENNAN, Postmaster General, et al., Defendants.
RANDOLPH D. MOSS, United States District Judge.
Paulette Williams, proceeding pro se, brought this
action against sixteen defendants alleging a host of claims
relating to her tenure as an employee of the United States
Postal Service. In a previous memorandum opinion and order,
the Court dismissed almost all of Williams's claims but
left intact her Rehabilitation Act claims against Meghan
Brennan, in her official capacity as Postmaster General of
the United States. See Williams v. Brennan, 285
F.Supp.3d 1, 6 (D.D.C. 2017) (“Williams
I”). The Postal Service has now moved to dismiss
or, in the alternative, for summary judgment. Dkt. 41.
Because Williams has failed to exhaust her administrative
remedies, the Court will GRANT the Postal
Service's motion to dismiss.
Williams's Remaining Claims
Williams, an employee of the Postal Service, filed this
action in June 2017. Dkt. 1. The Court dismissed her initial
complaint for failure to comply with the pleading
requirements of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a). Dkt. 4.
Williams then moved for reconsideration and to reopen the
case, and, at the same time, she filed an amended complaint.
Dkt. 6; Dkt. 7. After the Court granted her motion and
reopened the case, Dkt. 9, fifteen of the defendants moved to
dismiss on various grounds, Dkt. 21; Dkt. 29. There is no
evidence that the remaining defendant was ever served.
Williams I, 285 F.Supp.3d at 4 n.3. The Court
granted one of those motions and sua sponte
dismissed the remaining claims, with the exception of
Williams's Rehabilitation Act claims against the Postal
Service. Id. at 1-9. Although not a picture of
clarity, those claims appear to have four components:
Williams alleges that Tony Johnson, the Postmaster for Fort
Belvoir, Virginia, denied her November 2015 request that the
Post Office accommodate her physical disability. Dkt. 7 at 2
(Am. Compl. ¶ 1). Then, when Williams was ready to
return to work, Johnson denied her request to do so, even
though her doctor had “lift[ed] all restrictions”
on her ability to work. Id. (Am. Compl. ¶ 2).
And, when Williams had returned to work about two months
later, Johnson “creat[ed] a hostile work
environment” by making “crude remarks . . .
pertaining to [her] disability” and her
“homelessness.” Id. (Am. Compl. ¶
Williams avers that Preston Phillips, the manager of the
Diamond Farms Post Office in Gaithersburg, Maryland,
retaliated against her in February 2016 due to her
“pending grievance” pertaining to the events
occurring at the Fort Belvoir Post Office. Id. at 3
(Am. Compl. ¶ 4). Over a year later, according to
Williams, Phillips denied her April 2017 request that the
Post Office accommodate her “mental health
issues.” Id. (Am. Compl. ¶ 5).
Williams alleges that in June 2017, Patrice Shaw, the Officer
in Charge of the Gaithersburg, Maryland Post Office,
threatened to “expos[e] her . . . personal
business”-which the Court understands to refer to her
disabilities-unless she met with Shaw “without a
steward present.” Id. (Am. Compl. ¶ 6).
According to the amended complaint, Shaw again
“victimized” and “harass[ed]”
Williams in July 2017, “when [Shaw] had the floor
supervisor . . . serve [Williams] with a memo stating that
[Williams's] job would be . . . abolished.”
Id. (Am. Compl. ¶ 8).
Williams avers that from February 2017 to the present, the
Postal Service has denied her requests to transfer to other
positions and her requests for promotion in retaliation for
her “intent to bring civil litigation” against
the Postal Service, id. (Am. Compl. ¶ 7), and,
finally, laid her off on July 3, 2017, “due to [her]
disability, ” id. (Am. Compl. ¶ 9).
Although Williams was told that this layoff was
“expected to last” only two weeks, by the time
she filed her amended complaint almost a month later, she had
not yet been reinstated. Id. (Am. Compl. ¶ 9).
December 3, 2015, Williams filed an administrative Equal
Employment Opportunity (“EEO”) complaint with the
Postal Service. See Dkt. 1-4 at 4. Although the
parties have not provided the Court with a copy of that
administrative complaint, the Court assumes for present
purposes that it challenged the Postal Service's November
30, 2015 decision declining to accommodate Williams's
physical disability. Indeed, that is the only conduct that
Williams now challenges that preceded the December
3, 2015 administrative complaint, Dkt. 7 at 2, and a later
administrative notice confirms that Williams, in fact, filed
an administrative complaint challenging the November 30, 2015
decision, Dkt. 41-7 at 4.
after filing that administrative complaint, Williams's
union, the American Postal Workers' Union
(“APWU”), filed a grievance on her behalf that
raised the same substantive complaint, although in the
context of a labor-management dispute. Dkt. 41-3. That
grievance, filed on December 10, 2015, alleged that Williams
“was denied” the opportunity to work “after
requesting reasonable accommodations due to her work
limitations and permanent medical condition, ” and, in
particular, that Johnson informed her that “she would
no longer be scheduled to work due to her work
restrictions.” Id. at 1.
February 4, 2016, Williams withdrew her EEO complaint, prior
to issuance of a decision by the EEO Office and prior to
expiration of the 180-day period of time for the EEO Office
to act on the complaint. In a letter to the Postmaster
General attached to Williams's initial complaint in this
matter, she explains that she withdrew her EEO complaint
“because Dana Claybrooks, ” the Postal
Service's EEO counselor, “convinced” her that
her union grievance process “would help [her] the same
way, if not better, than what [Claybrooks] could, considering
[Williams's union grievance] was already up for
arbitration.” Dkt. 1-2 at 4.
ten months later, on April 20, 2017, the union and the Postal
Service reached a settlement of Williams's grievance.
Dkt. 41-4 at 2. Williams was awarded a cash payment to cover
her lost wages for her “denial of light duty [work]
from December 15, 2015 until she returned to work on February
1, 2016.” Id. Although this award covers a
period of time after she filed her administrative complaint
(on December 3, 2015) and after the union initiated the
grievance process (on December 10, 2015), it appears that the