UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF VIRGINIA
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
C.T. WOODY, JR., SHERIFF, CITY OF RICHMOND, in his official capacity, and RICHMOND CITY SHERIFF’S OFFICE,
AND DEMAND FOR JURY TRIAL
NOW COMES Plaintiff, United States of America, and respectfully alleges:
- This action is brought by the United States (hereinafter Plaintiff), against C.T. Woody, Jr., Sheriff, City of Richmond, in his official capacity, and the Richmond City Sheriff’s Office (hereinafter Defendants), to enforce the statutory and regulatory provisions of Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. § 12111−12117, which incorporate, through 42 U.S.C. § 12117(a), the powers, remedies, and procedures set forth in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq.
- This Court has jurisdiction over this action under 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5(f), and 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331 and 1345.
- This Court has authority to grant a declaratory judgment pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 2201 and 2202, and authority to grant equitable relief and monetary damages pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 12117(a).
- Venue is appropriate pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1391.
- Defendants are public employers and persons within the meaning of 42 U.S.C. § 12111(7) and 42 U.S.C. § 2000e(a).
- Defendants are employers within the meaning of 42 U.S.C. § 12111(5), and covered entities within the meaning of 42 U.S.C. § 12111(2) and 29 C.F.R. § 1630.2(b).
- On July 31, 2013, Emily Hall filed a timely charge of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) alleging that Defendants discriminated against her in violation of the ADA by denying her a reasonable accommodation.
- Pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5, incorporated by reference in 42 U.S.C. § 12117(a), the EEOC investigated Ms. Hall’s charge and found reasonable cause to believe that Defendants discriminated against her in violation of the ADA. After the EEOC’s conciliation efforts failed, the EEOC referred the matter to the United States Department of Justice.
- Ms. Hall is an individual with a disability within the meaning of 42 U.S.C. § 12102 and 29 C.F.R. § 1630.2. Ms. Hall has a physical disability that substantially limits the operation of her cardiovascular function and, without the ameliorating effects of medication and treatment, substantially limits other major life activities, including but not limited to walking and standing.
- Ms. Hall began working for Defendants as a Deputy Sheriff in 2003. She remained in that position until she was terminated in May 2013.
- Ms. Hall’s job duties as a Deputy Sheriff included, but were not limited to, ensuring order in court, accompanying inmates into and out of court, and providing security for the presiding judge. These duties required that a Deputy Sheriff be prepared to restrain inmates and sustain direct inmate contact.
- In or around September of 2012, Ms. Hall was diagnosed with familial dilated cardiomyopathy and tachycardia, and her doctors implanted an internal cardiac defibrillator and pacemaker.
- In or around September of 2012, Ms. Hall notified Defendants of her medical condition and informed them that she would need to take medical leave to recover from her surgery. Ms. Hall took such leave.
- In or around September or October of 2012, Ms. Hall informed Defendants that her physician had released her to “light duty” work with the restriction of having no direct contact with inmates due to her surgery and heart conditions. This restriction rendered Ms. Hall unable to perform an essential function of the position of Deputy Sheriff.
- In or around October of 2012, Ms. Hall contacted Richmond City Sheriff’s Office Human Resources Manager Billie Winzor and requested that she be given a “light duty” assignment. Ms. Winzor denied this request.
- In or around October or November of 2012, Ms. Hall met with Sheriff C.T. Woody, Jr., and requested that he transfer her to the Civil Process Division or some other division due to her medical condition.
- Sheriff Woody assured Ms. Hall that he would be able to find a civilian position for her and would talk with human resources staff.
- On November 19, 2012, Ms. Hall again requested reassignment to another position within Defendants’ organization via electronic mail addressed to Sheriff Woody. On the same date, Sheriff Woody forwarded this request to Ms. Winzor by electronic mail, commenting that Ms. Hall “would be very helpful” in Defendants’ human resources office.
- In or around January of 2013, while Ms. Hall was still on administrative leave, Ms. Winzor advised Ms. Hall of a vacant Payroll Technician position within Defendants’ organization.
- In February of 2013, Ms. Hall applied for the Payroll Technician position.
- The general qualifications for a payroll technician position with Defendants’ organization include payroll or other administrative experience, two years of post-secondary education, English-language proficiency, and familiarity with Microsoft Office applications.
- Ms. Hall’s application reflected that she possessed all of these qualifications. Specifically, her application reflected that she had over seven years of experience as an account manager with a private security firm, where she was responsible for payroll and scheduling assignments for over twenty employees; six years of experience as a convenience store manager, where she was responsible for computing employee payroll; and administrative experience, including experience ordering inventory and docketing video arraignments with Defendants’ organization. Her application also reflected that she had two years of post-secondary education, culminating in a degree in data entry. Her application also listed Microsoft Word and Microsoft Excel as professional skills and reflected English-language proficiency. Her application also reflected her nine years of employment with Defendants.
- Ms. Hall was one of several internal and external candidates invited for an interview for the Payroll Technician position. Ms. Hall interviewed for the position in February of 2013.
- Ms. Hall was not selected for the position, and another applicant was hired.
- On March 15, 2013, Ms. Hall again requested via electronic mail to Sheriff Woody that she be reassigned to a vacant position with Defendants.
- Defendants never offered Ms. Hall a transfer or reassignment to a vacant position for which she was qualified as a reasonable accommodation, nor was Ms. Hall given priority for placement into any vacant position.
- In May of 2013, Ms. Hall received a letter from Defendants informing her that she was terminated from her position as Deputy Sheriff, effective May 10, 2013, due to “organizational need.”
CAUSE OF ACTION
Count I – Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act
- The allegations of the foregoing paragraphs are hereby re-alleged and incorporated herein by reference.
- Title I of the ADA, 42 U.S.C. §§ 12111−12117, and its implementing regulation, 29 C.F.R. Part 1630, require covered employers, such as Defendants, to refrain from discriminating against qualified individuals on the basis of disability, including by providing reasonable accommodations to qualified employees with disabilities.
- Reasonable accommodations include, but are not limited to, reassignment to a vacant position within the employer’s organization when an employee with a disability can no longer perform the essential functions of the employee’s position due to a disability and a vacant position for which the employee is qualified is available.
- Ms. Hall is a qualified individual with a disability who, in 2013, could no longer perform the essential functions of her position as Deputy Sheriff due to her disability.
- Defendants failed to provide Ms. Hall a reasonable accommodation, including but not limited to a reassignment to a vacant position within the Defendants’ organization where such an accommodation was available. 42 U.S.C. § 12112(a), (b); 29 C.F.R. § 1630.9.
- Defendants’ conduct as described in this Complaint constitutes discrimination on the basis of disability in violation of Title I of ADA, 42 U.S.C. §§ 12111−12117, and its implementing regulation, 29 C.F.R. Part 1630.
- As a result of Defendants’ discriminatory conduct, Ms. Hall suffered and continues to suffer damages.
PRAYER FOR RELIEF
WHEREFORE, the United States prays that this Court:
(a) Grant judgment in favor of the United States and declare that Defendants have violated Title I of the ADA, 42 U.S.C. §§ 12111−12117, and its accompanying regulation;
(b) Require Defendants to modify their policies, practices, and procedures so as to bring their employment practices into compliance with Title I of the ADA and its accompanying regulation, including but not limited to implementing a policy to reassign qualified employees with disabilities to vacant positions for which they are qualified without competition for the position, when no accommodation is available in the current job.
(c) Order Defendants to train their supervisors and human resources staff regarding the requirements of the ADA;
(d) Enjoin Defendants from failing or refusing to take other appropriate measures to overcome the effects of their discriminatory policies and practices;
(e) Award Ms. Hall:
(i) reinstatement with retroactive seniority and all other benefits of employment;
(ii) back pay with interest;
(iii) compensatory damages, including damages for pain and suffering, for injuries suffered as a result of Defendants' failure to comply with the requirements of Title I of the ADA pursuant to and within the statutory limitations of Section 102 of the Civil Rights Act of 1991, 42 U.S.C. § 1981a; and
(f) Order such other appropriate relief as the interests of justice require.
Plaintiff United States requests a trial by jury as to the sole count.
For the United States of America
LORETTA E. LYNCH
Attorney General of the United States
DANA J. BOENTE
United States Attorney
Eastern District of Virginia
/s/ L. Margaret Harker
L. Margaret Harker
VSB No. 82188
Assistant United States Attorney
Office of the United States Attorney
919 East Main Street, Suite 1900
Richmond, Virginia, 23219
(804) 819-5400 (phone)
(804) 819-7417 (fax)
/s/ Vanita Gupta
Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General
EVE L. HILL
Deputy Assistant Attorney General
Civil Rights Division
/s/ Rebecca B. Bond
Rebecca B. Bond, Chief
Amanda Maisels, Deputy Chief
/s/ Kathryn E. Gilbert
Alyse Bass, Trial Attorney
Kathryn E. Gilbert, Trial Attorney
Disability Rights Section
Civil Rights Division
U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20530
Telephone: (202) 616-2430
Facsimile: (202) 305-9775