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Haynes v. Williams

December 17, 2004


Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of Columbia (No. 01cv00454)

Before: Edwards and Garland, Circuit Judges, and Williams, Senior Circuit Judge.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Garland, Circuit Judge

Argued September 27, 2004

Concurring opinion filed by Senior Circuit Judge WILLIAMS.

Charles Haynes, a former budget analyst for the District of Columbia, sued the District and its Mayor for allegedly discriminating against him in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), 42 U.S.C. § 12101 et seq. The district court granted summary judgment for the defendants on the ground that Haynes had failed to raise a genuine issue that he was disabled within the meaning of the Act. We affirm.


Viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to Haynes, see Breen v. Department of Transp., 282 F.3d 839, 841 (D.C. Cir. 2002), the facts are as follows. In 1980, Haynes began working as a budget analyst in the District of Columbia's Department of Budget and Planning. Sometime in 1992, Haynes developed a "severe medical condition, which seemed to be exacerbated by the work environment" at 441 4th Street, N.W., where the Department had its offices. Haynes Aff. ¶ 11 (J.A. 38). Haynes described his condition as "a sense of insects crawling on my skin causing severe irritation, occurring shortly after I arrive at work." Id. In 1996, Haynes and several co-workers filed a formal complaint with the District of Columbia's Office of Occupational Safety and Health (OSH). Although the District sprayed the offices for "bugs and other flying insects," Ex. D., Pl.'s Opp'n to Defs.' Mot. for Summary J., Haynes' condition did not abate. In April 1997, Haynes filed an OSH complaint in which he stated that his continuing discomfort was caused by "environmental conditions in the building." 4/11/97 Haynes Mem. at 1 (J.A. 64).

In 1997, Haynes also began visiting an allergist, Dr. James Mutcherson, who conducted a battery of skin tests. Mutcherson diagnosed Haynes as "a most allergic individual," 1/21/00 Mutcherson Letter at 3 (J.A. 29), who suffered from "idiopathic pruritus," a condition "that appear[ed] to be exacerbated by" his work environment. Id. at 1 (J.A. 27). Haynes was "rather emphatic" in telling Mutcherson that there was "something present at work that elicit[ed] the most intense and prolonged skin symptom[]" -- a "severely incapacitating skin itching." Id. at 3 (J.A. 29).

Although the itching would begin soon after Haynes arrived at work, it would continue after he returned home at the end of the day. See 9/25/98 Haynes Mem. at 3-5 (J.A. 80-82). Haynes believed that he was bringing home on his clothes whatever it was that aggravated his condition at work. As a result of the itching, he often could not fall asleep until 4:00 a.m. or later, typically getting under four hours of sleep. See id. at 5 (J.A. 82); Haynes Dep. at 74 (J.A. 164). And because Haynes had so much trouble sleeping, he also had trouble arriving at work on time. Often, he would not arrive at the office until the afternoon. Haynes Dep. at 144-49 (J.A. 181-83).

In 1996-97, the Department of Budget and Planning was transferred from the Office of the Mayor to the Office of the Chief Financial Officer, where it became the Office of Budget and Planning. Anthony Williams, who later became the District's Mayor, was the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) at the time. After the transfer, Williams terminated the Office's prior "liberal attendance policy and required all budget and accounting personnel to report for work from 8:15 a.m. to 4:45 p.m." Defs.' Statement of Material Facts ¶ 7.

Haynes' schedule did not comport with the new policy. In a memorandum dated September 17, 1997, Haynes' supervisor "inform[ed] him that he needed to comply with the attendance policy and report to the office by no later than 9:30 a.m." Id. ¶ 8. A year later, Haynes' September 1998 performance appraisal again warned that he "[n]eed[ed] to adjust his work schedule so that he [could] work during regular working hours and be a more effective team player." 9/15/98 Performance Evaluation at 3 (J.A. 60). Haynes responded with a lengthy memorandum, advising that he had "acquired an allergic reaction to something that lives within this building." 9/25/98 Haynes Mem. at 2 (J.A. 79). He complained that the District had failed to test his office's air quality and to accommodate him with a work schedule that would permit him "to come to work at later times when [he] suffered sleep deprivation." Haynes Aff. ¶ 24 (J.A. 43).

On January 25, 1999, Haynes met with his supervisors, who told him that "his failure to work during the regular business hours was preventing him from being fully productive and was becoming an inconvenience to his co-workers." Defs.' Statement of Material Facts ¶ 12. In response to Haynes' complaints about the building, the defendants hired specialists to test limited aspects of its air quality, tests that found no significant problems. Id. After receiving the results of the air quality tests, Haynes' supervisor advised him that the Office "would no longer tolerate his excuses for failing to report within normal duty hours." Id. ¶ 13. Haynes' September 30, 1999 performance evaluation reported that he "still failed to maintain a work schedule that meets his assigned regular tour of duty," 9/30/99 Performance Evaluation at 3 (J.A. 119), an allegation that Haynes did not deny, see Haynes Dep. at 144-49 (J.A. 181-83) (acknowledging that, in 1999, Haynes typically reported to work between 1:00 p.m. and 1:30 p.m., and sometimes as late as 5:00 p.m.).

On January 14, 2000, the Office of the CFO terminated Haynes' employment. Thereafter, he sued the District of Columbia and Mayor Williams (collectively, "the District") in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. Haynes alleged that the District had violated the ADA by failing reasonably to accommodate his claimed disability and by discharging him based on that disability.*fn1

Following discovery, the District moved for summary judgment. Concluding that Haynes had not raised a genuine issue of fact as to whether he was disabled within the meaning of the ADA, the district court granted the District's motion and dismissed the ...

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