Turner v. District of Columbia, Civil Action No. 02-1514(RMU).

CourtUnited States District Courts. United States District Court (Columbia)
Citation383 F.Supp.2d 157
Docket NumberCivil Action No. 02-1514(RMU).
PartiesRosalie L. TURNER, Plaintiff, v. DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, Defendant.
Decision Date25 August 2005
383 F.Supp.2d 157
Rosalie L. TURNER, Plaintiff,
Civil Action No. 02-1514(RMU).
United States District Court, District of Columbia.
August 25, 2005.

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Frazer Walton, Jr., Law Office of F. Walton, Gwendolyn Delora Prioleau, Law Offices of Gwendolyn D. Prioleau, Chartered, Washington, DC, for Plaintiff.

Holly Michelle Johnson, Office of Corporation Counsel, D.C., Michael Alan Stern, Office of the Attorney General, Robert A. Deberardinis, Jr., Office of the Attorney General of D.C., Washington, DC, for Defendant.


RICARDO M. URBINA, District Judge.


The plaintiff, Rosalie Turner, is a doctor and former employee of the Southeast Sexually Transmitted Disease Clinic ("S.E.Clinic") at D.C. General Hospital. Defendant District of Columbia provides services through the D.C. Department of Health and D.C. General Hospital. The plaintiff sues the defendant under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, the Equal Pay Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Rehabilitation Act, and for intentional infliction of emotional distress. The plaintiff alleges that she suffered adverse employment actions and a hostile work environment as a result of a custom or policy of the District of Columbia (the "district") to discriminate against women during her three-decade long career as a physician employed by the District of Columbia Department of Health ("DOH"). Also, the plaintiff claims that she was discriminated against because of her medical illnesses. Furthermore, she claims that she was retaliated against for filing a complaint with the District Office of Human Rights. Finally, the plaintiff seeks damages for intentional infliction of emotional distress under District of Columbia law. This matter comes before the court on the defendant's motion to dismiss or in the alternative for summary judgment.

Because plaintiff's involuntary discharge, failure to inform of salary enhancement, and pre-February 22, 2000 ADA and RA claims are time-barred, because plaintiff fails to establish a prima facie case of sex discrimination for understaffing, constructive discharge, and forced job description re-writing, because plaintiff fails to establish a prima facie case under the Equal Pay Act, and because plaintiff fails to establish a prima facie case of hostile work environment and intentional infliction of emotional distress, defendant's motion for summary judgment, as to those claims, is granted. Because a genuine issue of material fact exists whether the S.E. Clinic supervisors denied plaintiff use of sick days in retaliation for a complaint she filed, defendant's motion for summary judgment as to that claim is denied.

A. Factual Background

The plaintiff alleges as follows. The plaintiff, a physician, was employed at the

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S.E. Clinic in the district from August, 1972 to September, 2004. Am. Compl. ¶ 18. The Clinic is operated by the DOH. Id. ¶ 6. The plaintiff, originally hired as Chief Medical Officer of the S.E. Clinic ("Clinic Chief") in 1972, was promoted to Bureau Chief of STD Control for the district ("Bureau Chief") in 1976. Id. ¶¶ 19-20. The plaintiff was the first woman to hold the Bureau Chief position. Id. ¶ 21. Although the Bureau Chief position had previously been a fulltime position, id. ¶ 22, the plaintiff was required by DOH officials to perform the duties of both Bureau Chief and Clinic Chief, id. ¶ 24. Despite numerous requests for administrative support and additional personnel as the S.E. Clinic began to undergo a staffing shortage, DOH officials "failed or refused to attend to such needs or to replace such staff as positions became vacant." Id. ¶ 29. The plaintiff states that the district had sufficient funds to hire the staff members the plaintiff requested. Id. ¶ 30. The plaintiff requested and received permission in October of 1977 to return solely to the position of Clinic Chief, id. ¶ 33, an action she claims she was forced to take as a result of the "intolerable working conditions" of being required to perform the duties of both positions simultaneously and understaffing at the S.E. Clinic, id. ¶¶ 31, 35.

Similar conditions at the clinic, according to the plaintiff, persisted and worsened. Id. ¶ 37. In 1989, several employees left the S.E. Clinic, causing another staffing shortage. Id. ¶ 38. Because the conditions worsened, the plaintiff was forced to assume additional duties outside of her position, including "duties normally performed by non-professional, supervisory, and administrative staff, including but not limited to: (1) performing time-keeping duties, and (2) ordering, checking and maintaining medicine, general office supplies, and clerical and medical equipment stock." Id. ¶ 39.

Additional preventative health technicians at the S.E. Clinic departed in the early 1990s. Id. ¶¶ 42-43. The Northwest Clinic ("N.W. Clinic") was evicted or lost its lease, Opp'n Ex. A ¶ 3 (Turner Aff.), which resulted in the merging of the N.W. and S.E. Clinics in 1995, Am. Compl. ¶ 44. As a result of this merger, six N.W. Clinic employees — five physicians, a nursing assistant, and a preventative health technician, were transferred to the S.E. Clinic. Id. ¶ 45. Within one month of this transfer, however, all but two of those physicians had left the S.E. Clinic, id. ¶ 49, due to the "extreme differences in working conditions" between the two clinics, including a "greater patient-to-doctor ratio on a daily basis, more extreme cases, and a marked surge in cases of genital ulcer disease and syphilis among patients attending the [S.E. Clinic]," id. ¶ 47. Additionally, although nursing assistant Mrs. Britt had performed some of the duties at the N.W. Clinic that the plaintiff was performing at the S.E. Clinic, such as ordering medicine and supplies, Britt was directed not to perform such duties at the S.E. Clinic following the merger. Id. ¶ 49.

The plaintiff alleges that the DOH failed to inform her of a salary enhancement program until 1983, although she was eligible for the program beginning in 1979. Id. ¶ 56. The results of understaffing also prevented the plaintiff from participating in a management enhancement training course. Id. ¶ 55. In March 1999, the plaintiff became "seriously ill" with hypertension and diabetes, illnesses the plaintiff alleges are "directly attributable to the long-standing and unreasonable physical demands, stress, and duress of the working conditions[.]" Id. ¶ 62.

In May of 1999, the plaintiff informed the Administrator of Preventative Health

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Services, Dr. Calderone, of her condition and her need for "accommodation." Id. ¶ 65. Dr. Calderone directed the acting Bureau Chief, Pete Moore, to "immediately find money" to hire an additional physician for the S.E. Clinic, and promised to hire a second physician in October. Id. ¶ 66. No additional physicians were hired, however, and the plaintiff submitted a request to "retreat" from her position as Clinic Chief to a less demanding position — the position of medical officer — on August 23, 1999. Pl.'s Original Opp'n at 331; Am. Compl. ¶ 71.2 DOH officials "agreed to accommodate plaintiff's illness by permitting her to move into the existing medical officer position," Am. Compl. ¶ 184, and the plaintiff's resignation as Clinic Chief became effective on November 7, 1999. Pl.'s Original Opp'n at 34.

On October 4, 1999, Pete Moore called the plaintiff and demanded that the "existing and long-standing" job description for the position of medical officer be changed to add more responsibilities and duties before the plaintiff would be allowed to assume it and receive the same pay as her male predecessor, Dr. Elliot. Id. ¶¶ 74, 77; Pl.'s Opp'n Ex. A ¶ 10. The medical officer job description was rewritten using "broad language" in order to force the plaintiff "to perform any and every duty in the clinic at the whim of her supervisors[.]" Id.

In March 2000, Dr. Shukdeo Sankar, a male, was hired as the new Clinic Chief. Am. Compl. ¶ 82. The plaintiff alleges that Dr. Sankar has since received the additional staff and support that the plaintiff repeatedly requested to no avail while Clinic Chief. Id. ¶ 85. DOH officials have not required that Dr. Sankar perform all of the duties in his job description as Clinic Chief, as they required of the plaintiff. Id. ¶ 88. Rather, Dr. Sankar has required the plaintiff to perform some duties included in his job description, and not included in her job description as a medical officer. Id. ¶ 90. The plaintiff also alleges that Dr. Sankar has denied her the legitimate use of sick days, id. ¶ 192, and ridiculed her for taking some sick days, id., after he learned she had filed a complaint with the D.C. Office of Human Rights ("OHR"), see Pl.'s Opp'n, Ex. B.

The plaintiff alleges that these actions constitute a district "policy or custom," set intentionally or as a result of deliberate indifference of discriminatory treatment of women, and discriminatory treatment against her because of her illnesses. Am. Compl. ¶¶ 96-97.

B. Procedural History

The plaintiff filed her complaint on July 31, 2002. In June 2003, the court denied the defendant's motion to stay the proceedings. Turner v. District of Columbia, 268 F.Supp.2d 23 (D.D.C.2003). The district filed a motion to dismiss, or in the alternative, for summary judgment, on September 4, 2003, which the plaintiff filed an opposition to on October 21, 2003. The

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defendant filed a reply ten days later. In July, 2004, the court ordered the parties to submit further briefing on why the plaintiff's claim against the district under § 1983 should not be dismissed where that claim failed to allege that "execution of ......

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