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Von Ville v. Brennan

United States District Court, S.D. Ohio, Eastern Division

May 11, 2017

DARLENE K. VON VILLE, Plaintiff,
v.
MEGAN J. BRENNAN POSTMASTER GENERAL OF THE UNITED STATES POSTAL SERVICE, Defendant.

          Elizabeth P. Deavers Magistrate Judge

          OPINION AND ORDER

          EDMUND A. SARGUS, JR. CHIEF JUDGE

         Plaintiff Darlene K. Von Ville ("Plaintiff') brings this action against Defendant Megan J. Brennan, Postmaster General of the United States Postal Service ("Defendant"), alleging that Defendant discriminated against her due to her disability in violation of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended, 29 U.S.C. § 791 et seq. This matter is before the Court on Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment. (ECF No. 27.) For the reasons that follow, Defendant's motion is GRANTED.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff is a former U.S. Postal Service employee. (Plaintiffs Opposition to Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment ("PL's Opp.") at 2, ECF No. 34.) She began her employment with the U.S. Postal Service ("USPS") on April 20, 1985, left work in July 12, 2007, and retired due to a disability in October 2007.[1] (Id.) Plaintiff alleges that Defendant discriminated against her due to her disability in violation of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended, 29 U.S.C. § 791 et seq. (Id. at 9.)

         In March of 2002, Plaintiffs psychologist wrote Defendant stating that Plaintiff should be moved to the position of a window clerk. (Id. at 2.) Between March 2002 and June 2002 Defendant indicated to Plaintiff that there were no window clerk positions available. (Id.) Plaintiff alleges that she took disability leave from September 2002 until October 28, 2004. (Def. Ex. 5, Plaintiffs Responses to Defendant's First Set of Interrogatories, ECF No. 27-9.) On September 9, 2002 Plaintiff received a Notice of Removal for "Unsatisfactory Attendance/Improper Conduct" from USPS. That same month, Plaintiff filed an internal complaint with USPS alleging that the USPS failed to accommodate her disability by not placing her in the work location recommended by her psychologist. On March 17, 2003, the USPS issued Plaintiff a Notice of Separation. However, on October 28, 2004, after Plaintiffs workers compensation benefits terminated, Plaintiff was reinstated by USPS as a window clerk.[2](Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment ("Def.'s Br. Summ. J.") at 7, ECF No. 27.) In April of 2005, Plaintiff successfully bid for a new position in the Registry Room as a mail processing clerk. (Id.) She worked in the Registry Room until June of 2005 when Plaintiff stopped working and collected workers compensation until September 2005. (PL's Opp. at 13.) From September 2005 until July 2007, Plaintiff worked as a clerk in the distribution center. (Def. Ex. 5, ECF No. 27-9.)

         After holding a hearing on Plaintiffs complaint, the EEOC Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") issued a decision concluding that the USPS failed to take reasonable steps to accommodate Plaintiff and discriminated against her on the basis of her disability when it issued her separation notices in 2002 and 2003.[3] (PL's Opp. at 2-3.) The USPS adopted the ALJ's decision on September 12, 2005. Upon adopting the ALJ's decision, the USPS then issued an order ("Final Order") stating that the USPS "would determine the appropriate amount of back pay, interest, and other benefits due Petitioner from September 9, 2002, until the present." (PL Ex.F.at2, ECFNo. 34-6.)

         After further appeals and determinations regarding the amount of compensation owed to Plaintiff, the USPS issued Plaintiff checks on April 22, 2011 for $27, 789.83 in back pay and benefits and $18, 809.95 in interest. Plaintiff does not contest her receipt of the money or that she accepted the compensation. According to a compliance report submitted by the USPS to the EEOC's Compliance Office, the USPS complied with the Final Order by taking the following actions: USPS expunged pertinent information from all records; provided eight hours of EEO training to the responsible management official; issued a check to Plaintiff for $27, 789.83 in back pay and benefits and $18, 809.95 in interest; and issued a check to Plaintiffs attorney for $2, 501.71 in attorney's fees and costs. (Def. Ex. A, EEOC Decision On a Petition For Enforcement, ECF No. 27-2.) Of the $27, 789.83 issued to Plaintiff for back pay, $7, 016.62, marked as "additional income" compensated Plaintiff for the loss of her annual leave. (Def. Ex. B, ECF No. 27-3.)

         Plaintiff filed a Petition for Enforcement on July 10, 2013, alleging that Defendant failed to comply with the ALJ's Final Order. On October 31, 2014, The ALJ determined that "the Agency complied with our order to provide Petitioner with back pay together with interest and benefits, and to provide her a detailed account of its calculations" and that the Defendant had reinstated Plaintiff to a window clerk position on October 28, 2004. (Id.)

         On January 30, 2015, Plaintiff filed the instant Complaint with this Court alleging that Defendant violated the Rehabilitation Act by discriminating against her due to her disability-by failing to comply with the EEOC decision and by constructively discharging her. Defendant moved for summary judgement contending that Plaintiff failed to offer any evidence to establish a prima facie claim under the Rehabilitation Act.

         II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         Summary judgment is appropriate "if the movant shows that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). The Court may therefore grant a motion for summary judgment if the nonmoving party who has the burden of proof at trial fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element that is essential to that party's case. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986).

         The "party seeking summary judgment always bears the initial responsibility of informing the district court of the basis for its motion and identifying those portions of the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, which it believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact." Id. at 323 (internal quotations omitted). The burden then shifts to the nonmoving party who "must set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 250 (1986) (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 56). "The evidence of the nonmovant is to be believed, and all justifiable inferences are to be drawn in his favor." Id. at 255 (citing Adickes v. S. H. Kress & Co., 398 U.S. 144, 158-59 (1970)). A genuine issue of material fact exists if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. at 248; see also Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., Ltd. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986) (the requirement that a dispute be "genuine" means that there must be more than "some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts").

         Consequently, the central issue is "whether the evidence presents a sufficient disagreement to require submission to a jury or whether it is so one-sided that one party must prevail as a matter of law." Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. at 251-52.

         III. ANALYSIS

         Plaintiff alleges that USPS did not comply with the Final Order requiring the USPS to reinstate and compensate her for found discrimination and that USPS discriminated against her on account of her disability through a constructive discharge. USPS moves for summary judgment on all of Plaintiff s claims.

         A. Defendant Complied with the Final Order.

         Plaintiff contends that Defendant did not comply with the Final Order for three reasons: (1) she was not reinstated into her position as a window clerk; (2) Defendant did not compensate her for lost benefits; and (3) Defendant did not give her access to her Thrift Savings Plan ("TSP").

         As discussed below, Defendant has presented sufficient evidence showing that it did comply with the Final Order. As such, Plaintiff has been fully compensated and accepted ...


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