January 11, 2019
from the Superior Court of the District of Columbia
(CAB-799-15), (Hon. Robert R. Rigsby, Trial Judge)
McDonough for appellant.
Block, with whom Andrew Butz was on the brief, Washington,
Thompson and McLeese, Associate Judges, and Edelman,
Associate Judge of the Superior Court of the District of
Appellant Khalil Abdul-Azim sued his former employer,
appellee Howard University Hospital (HUH), alleging that HUH
discriminated against him on the basis of a perceived
disability. The trial court granted summary judgment to HUH.
We vacate and remand.
as indicated, the following facts appear to be undisputed.
Mr. Abdul-Azim began working at HUH in 1998 as a cardiology
technician. He had an excellent performance record. In
February 2014, Mr. Abdul-Azim was involved in a dispute with
a coworker, Renaldon Perkins, regarding the treatment of a
patient. Mr. Perkins received a formal letter of reprimand;
Mr. Abdul-Azim was not disciplined. Both men returned to work
after the incident.
April 2014, Mr. Abdul-Azim and Mr. Perkins were involved in a
second incident that occurred during a heart-catheterization
procedure. Mr. Abdul-Azims account of that incident was
that, believing that Mr. Perkins had omitted a procedure, Mr.
Abdul-Azim walked over to Mr. Perkins, placed his hand on Mr.
Perkinss shoulder, pointed to the monitor, and instructed
Mr. Perkins to correct the omission. Mr. Perkins immediately
stood up and left the room. Later that day, Mr. Perkins
accused Mr. Abdul-Azim of assault. Both Mr. Abdul-Azim and
Mr. Perkins were placed on administrative leave that day
pending investigation of the alleged assault. HUHs corporate
representative later testified that HUH believed Mr.
Abdul-Azim was the aggressor in both of the incidents with
this second incident, Mr. Abdul-Azims supervisor Tawana
Brooks recommended that Mr. Abdul-Azim be required to
participate in HUHs Employee Assistance Program (EAP) before
returning to work. This recommendation was accepted by HUHs
senior employee and labor-relations specialist, Candace
Dabney-Smith, who expressed concern about the
"[p]ossibility of something else driving what appears to
be manic behavior."
also referred Mr. Abdul-Azim to the Employee Health
Department for a fitness-for-duty evaluation. The evaluation
was conducted in May 2014 by Dr. Elizabeth Nolte. Dr. Nolte
found that Mr. Abdul-Azim
was "hyperactive" and "manic," that he
had "poor concentration," and that his behavior
during the evaluation was bizarre. Dr. Nolte concluded that
Mr. Abdul-Azim was "[n]ot physically able to safely and
efficiently perform the essential functions of the job."
Subsequently, Dr. Nolte referred Mr. Abdul-Azim for an
evaluation for organic disease or psychiatric disorder,
noting that Mr. Abdul-Azim "would benefit from
psychiatric evaluation" and that he would remain on
leave until evaluated and treated. Dr. Nolte testified that
she did not know whether or not Mr. Abdul-Azim was disabled
and did not recall whether she had believed that Mr.
Abdul-Azim had any particular disorder.
July 2014, the EAP administrator reported that Mr. Abdul-Azim
had completed his EAP sessions and that no further services
were recommended. One week later, Mr. Abdul-Azim underwent a
psychological evaluation. Dr. Kelurah Comilang noted that Mr.
Abdul-Azim was "considered to be fully competent to be
released to his[ ] own custody and does not ...