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Rios-Jimenez v. Sec'y of Veterans Affairs

United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit

March 12, 2008, Decided

No. 06-2582

Opinion

 [*34]  SMITH, District Judge. In this case, plaintiff-appellant Maribel Rios-Jimenez ("Rios-Jimenez") appeals the award of summary judgment to her former employer, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Anthony J. Principi, in his official capacity, on her claims for disability discrimination, failure to accommodate, and hostile work environment, pursuant to the Rehabilitation Act, 29 U.S.C. § 701 et seq. We conclude that summary judgment was properly granted as to each of Rios-Jimenez's claims and affirm the decision of the district court.

I. BACKGROUND

We first sketch  [**2] with some necessary detail the undisputed facts, as outlined by the district court. Rios-Jimenez was employed at the San Juan Veterans Administration ("VA") Medical Center as a Medical Technician in the VA Nursing Service. In 2000, she applied for and received a  [*35]  temporary promotion to Health Technician with the VA Research and Development Service ("R&D Service"). In her new position, Rios-Jimenez was assigned as Study Coordinator for a VA-funded diabetes study. Her duties and responsibilities included screening potential patients for eligibility, developing the initial database of patient information, conducting follow-up visits with patients according to a scheduling protocol, collecting data and completing study forms, recording and reporting adverse patient experiences, and performing other related duties as required by the needs of the study. Rios-Jimenez was directly supervised by Dr. Julio Benabe, the Associate Chief of Staff for Research and Development and the study's principal investigator, and was required to work in cooperation with a study monitor and additional staff within the VA's Cooperative Studies Program Coordinating Center ("CSPCC").

By May 2001, Rios-Jimenez had  [**3] accumulated several absences for which she had not requested sick leave or compensatory time. 3 Blanca Lebron, the Administrative Officer for the R&D Service, questioned Rios-Jimenez about her failure to comply with attendance and timekeeping requirements, and requested that Rios-Jimenez submit an ex post accounting of her absences. Rios-Jimenez submitted two forms. The first detailed the times, dates, and justifications for 51 hours of absence; the second accounted for 108 hours of absence without explanation of dates, times, or justifications. Both forms were signed by Dr. Benabe, who was Rios-Jimenez's supervisor at the time. Although Dr. Benabe approved both forms, Lebron did not accept Rios-Jimenez's accounting for the 108 hours because it failed to provide details regarding the dates, times, and justifications for the absences. After being credited all her properly documented time, Rios-Jimenez was left with 35 hours of unexplained absence.

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520 F.3d 31 *; 2008 U.S. App. LEXIS 5263 **; 20 Am. Disabilities Cas. (BNA) 609; 13 Accom. Disabilities Dec. (CCH) P13-091

MARIBEL RIOS-JIMENEZ, Plaintiff, Appellant, v. SECRETARY OF VETERANS AFFAIRS, ANTHONY J. PRINCIPI, ET AL., Defendant, Appellees.

Prior History:  [**1] APPEAL FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF PUERTO RICO. [Hon. Salvador E. Casellas, U.S. Senior District Judge].

Disposition: Affirmed.

CORE TERMS

district court, termination, accommodation, disability, reasonable accommodation, summary judgment, promotion, essential function, temporary, attendance, discriminatory, hostile, facie, additional fact, direct evidence, psychiatrist, human resources department, work environment, return to work, allegations, emotional, part-time, disability discrimination, compensatory time, proffered, diabetes, opposing, factors, patient, email

Civil Procedure, Appeals, Summary Judgment Review, Standards of Review, Summary Judgment, Opposing Materials, Memoranda in Opposition, Labor & Employment Law, Disparate Treatment, Evidence, Mixed Motive, Circumstantial & Direct Evidence, Business & Corporate Compliance, Discrimination, Disability Discrimination, Rehabilitation Act, Burdens of Proof, Burden Shifting, Employee Burdens of Proof, Nonmovant Persuasion & Proof, Labor & Employment Law, Accommodation, Harassment, Sexual Harassment, Hostile Work Environment