United States District Court, S.D. Florida
JONATHAN N. BROOKS, Plaintiff,
ELAINE L. CHAO, Secretary, Department of Transportation, Defendant.
ORDER ON DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY
G. COOKE United States District Judge.
Jonathan N. Brooks (“Plaintiff”) brings this
action pro se against Defendant Elaine L. Chao,
Secretary of the Department of Transportation, under Section
501 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as Amended, 29 U.S.C.
§ 791 et seq.., and the Age Discrimination in
Employment Act, 29 U.S.C. § 621 et seq.,
(“ADEA”), alleging disability and age
discrimination. Defendant filed the instant Motion for
Summary Judgment (“Motion”) (ECF No. 32), which
included a statement of facts. Plaintiff filed a Response to
Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 45), and
Defendant filed a Reply (ECF No. 46). Plaintiff also filed a
Response to Defendant's Reply (ECF No. 47). The matter is now
ripe for review. For the reasons discussed below,
Defendant's Motion is granted.
was hired by the Federal Aviation Administration
(“FAA”) as an Engineering Technician FV0802-G on
July 28, 2014. Statement of Facts (“SOF”) ¶
1, ECF No. 44; Pl.'s Aff. ¶ 2. For the first few
months of employment, Mr. Jerry Martinez was Plaintiff's
first level supervisor. Pl.'s Aff. ¶ 7.
Plaintiff's permanent immediate supervisor was Kraig
Beahn, a manager, and his second level supervisor was Darrell
Roberts, a regional manager. SOF ¶ 2. Plaintiff has a
skeletal condition dating back to his military service in
1977. Id. at ¶ 3. Plaintiff's condition
mostly affects his back, neck and shoulders, and limits his
ability to perform physical activities involving the upper
body, including his ability to reach, bend, and/or lift up
August 2014, shortly after Plaintiff was hired, he informed
Mr. Martinez and Mr. Roberts of his disability. Pl.'s
Aff. ¶ 13. Mr. Beahn became aware of Plaintiff's
need for accommodation when he asked Plaintiff to pressure
clean or paint a building and Plaintiff told Mr. Beahn he
could not do it by himself. Pl.'s Depo., 20:4-15.
Consequently, Mr. Beahn began the reasonable accommodation
process. SOF, ¶ 5. As of September 5, 2014, Mr. Beahn
approved temporary limited duties for Plaintiff which
remained in effect through the course of Plaintiff's
employment. See Memorandum dated 7/23/15, ECF No.
43, p. 87; Termination Letter, ECF No. 44-3. According to Mr.
Beahn, Plaintiff's disability required Mr. Beahn to
assign another employee to assist Plaintiff with his duties.
Beahn Aff., ¶ 14, ECF No. 44-2. As part of the
reasonable accommodation process, and prior to terminating
Plaintiff, Mr. Beahn engaged in a job search in consultation
with the Human Resources and Labor Relations Department to
find another position to accommodate Plaintiff's physical
limitations. Id. at ¶ 18. According to Mr.
Beahn, the process was lengthy, but they could not locate any
other position which Plaintiff would accept based on his
requirements and physical limitations. Id. at ¶
18, 23. Plaintiff received a letter, dated July 23, 2015,
informing Plaintiff his employment was being terminated
effective July 25, 2015, during his probationary period.
See Term. Letter. The letter stated Plaintiff had
been unable to perform the duties of his position and
therefore had not demonstrated he could meet the performance
requirements of the position of Engineering Technician.
receiving his termination letter, Plaintiff filed a charge of
discrimination with the EEOC, alleging discrimination on the
basis of age and disability. SOF, ¶¶ 9-10. After
the EEOC denied his claim and issued a Notice of Right to
Sue, Plaintiff filed the instant lawsuit.
judgment is appropriate when “the movant shows that
there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the
movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). The function of the trial court is not
“to weigh the evidence and determine the truth of the
matter but to determine whether there is a genuine issue for
trial.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477
U.S. 242, 249-50 (1986). “The court need consider only
the cited materials, but it may consider other materials in
the record.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(3).
moving party bears the initial burden to show the district
court . . . that there is no genuine issue of material fact
that should be decided at trial. Clark v. Coats &
Clark, Inc., 929 F.2d 604, 608 (11th Cir. 1991). If the
moving party meets this burden, then the non-moving party
must “demonstrate that there is indeed a material issue
of fact that precludes summary judgment.” Id.
Any inferences drawn from the underlying facts must be viewed
in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Scott
v. Harris, 550 U.S. 372, 378 (2007).
first argues it is entitled to summary judgment because
Plaintiff made contact with the EEO Counselor outside the
forty-five day time period required by law. Since I have
already determined that Plaintiff is entitled to equitable
tolling, see Order on Motion to Dismiss (ECF No.
49), and Defendant has presented no additional facts on this
issue, I will turn to Defendant's other arguments.
next argues that Plaintiff has not established a prima facie
case of age or disability discrimination. A plaintiff
bringing a cause of action for employment discrimination must
first “carry the initial burden” of establishing
a prima facie case of discrimination. McDonnell Douglas
Corp. v. Green, 411 U.S. 792, 802 (1973). Once a
plaintiff has established a prima facie case of
discrimination, “[t]he burden then must shift to the
employer to articulate some legitimate, nondiscriminatory
reason for the employee's rejection.” Id.
“[S]hould the defendant carry this burden, the
plaintiff must then have an opportunity to prove by a
preponderance of the evidence that the legitimate reasons
offered by the defendant were not its true reasons, but were
a pretext for discrimination.” Texas Dep't of
Cmty. Affairs v. Burdine, 450 U.S. 248, 253 (1981).
[Rehabilitation] Act prohibits federal agencies from
discriminating in employment against otherwise qualified
individuals with a disability.” Mullins v.
Crowell, 228 F.3d 1305, 1313 (11th Cir. 2000). “To
establish a prima facie case of discrimination under the
Rehabilitation Act, a plaintiff must show that (1) he has a
disability, (2) he is otherwise qualified for the position,
and (3) he was subjected to unlawful discrimination as a
result of his disability.” Id. It is
undisputed that Plaintiff's skeletal condition qualifies
as a disability under the Rehabilitation Act and that
Plaintiff suffered an adverse employment action via his
termination. Defendant, however, argues Plaintiff has not
shown he is otherwise qualified nor that a reasonable
accommodation was available to assist ...