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Digest of EEO Law, Volume XI No. 3

FEDERAL HIGHLIGHTS

I

TEACHER TERMINATED BECAUSE NOT QUALIFIED

Davidson v. Department of Defense, Office of Dependents Education, 98 FEOR 987021 (4th Cir., January 14, 1998).

For many years, plaintiff taught special education courses for the agency. In 1992, other teachers and parents expressed concerns to school officials about plaintiff's performance. She was counseled and provided with assistance from teachers and administrators, but her performance failed to improve. The school system terminated plaintiff in 1994. She challenged the termination on the basis of disability discrimination. Plaintiff has asthma, but at no point did plaintiff attribute her performance problems to asthma. After a bench trial, the district court found for the agency. The circuit court agreed that although plaintiff was an individual with a disability, she was not otherwise qualified for the teaching position because she could not meet the performance standards set out for the position. The circuit court also agreed that the agency did not discharge plaintiff solely because of her disability. The circuit court reasoned that plaintiff did not inform school officials of her disability, and moreover pointed to testimony of several witnesses that they did not know plaintiff even had asthma. The circuit court affirmed.

II

COURT APPLIES PART 1614 TIMELINESS STANDARDS

Williamson v. Department of Health and Human Services, 992 F. Supp. 454 (D.D.C., January 30, 1998).

In April 1994, plaintiff contacted an EEO Counselor to allege that race and disability discrimination motivated several agency actions. Plaintiff, black, had worked for the agency as a mail clerk since 1982. Three of the allegedly discriminatory acts occurred more than 45 days before the day of his Counselor contact. He alleged, for example, a denial of advanced sick leave in November 1993, and a February 1994 denial of his request for a temporary parking permit. The agency contended to the court that plaintiff's claims were time-barred because he failed to adhere to the applicable administrative time limits. The court stated that a plaintiff cannot file a civil action until he first exhausts his administrative remedies. The court stated that, as a general rule, noncompliance with administrative deadlines will bar a plaintiff from litigating his claims in court, and cited to 29 C.F.R. §1614.105 for the 45-day deadline for contacting an EEO Counselor. Plaintiff's contact in April 1994 was found untimely. The court noted that plaintiff had not advanced any equitable reasons, such as a lack of knowledge of the deadlines, to explain his untimeliness. The court therefore dismissed the three claims for untimeliness. In addition, the court granted summary judgment for the agency on three other claims brought by plaintiff.