United States District Court, D. Maryland
DEBORAH K. CHASANOW, District Judge.
Presently pending and ready for resolution in this disability discrimination case is a motion for summary judgment filed by Defendants the Maryland Department of Juvenile Services and Sam J. Abed, Secretary of the Department of Juvenile Services. (ECF No. 53). The issues have been fully briefed, and the court now rules, no hearing being deemed necessary. Local Rule 105.6. For the following reasons, Defendants' motion for summary judgment will be granted.
A. Factual Background
Unless otherwise noted, the following facts are uncontroverted. On March 10, 2010 Plaintiff Gregory Raiford ("Mr. Raiford" or "Plaintiff") became a Resident Advisor Trainee with the Maryland Department of Juvenile Services ("DJS") at the Cheltenham Youth Facility ("CYF"). (ECF No. 53-8, at 1). The CYF "and the other detention facilities are primarily staffed by Residential Advisors ("RAs"), whose primary purpose is to provide direct care and supervision to the Department's detained youthful offenders." (ECF No. 53-2 ¶ 2, Deitchman Aff.). On June 21, 2010, Plaintiff injured his left knee while separating youths during a struggle. (ECF No. 53-9). Thereafter, Plaintiff returned to work in a modified or light duty capacity, performing work in the gate house and special duty post, which did not involve contact with juveniles. (ECF No. 53-12, at 3). On November 23, 2010, before Plaintiff had surgery on his knee, his doctor Lorne E. Weeks submitted a letter, stating in relevant part:
Mr. Gregory Raiford is under the medical care of Lorne E. Weeks, M.D. He is scheduled for surgery on December 10, 2010 and will commence physical therapy 10 days post surgery which will be for approximately 2 ½ - 3 months. Dr. Weeks will evaluate Mr. Raiford monthly with a final evaluation at the end of therapy.
Anticipated return to work full duty is March 7, 2011. Updated work status and restrictions will be provided on an ongoing basis.
Due to his job responsibilities, Mr. Raiford is to continue light duty until his surgery date with the restrictions of no prolonged standing and/or walking longer than 35 minutes/h[ou]r. Also, in order to prevent further injury to his knee, he is to refrain from involvement in ending any altercation.
(ECF No. 53-10, at 5).
On December 10, 2010, after Plaintiff had surgery on his left knee, Defendants allowed Mr. Raiford to receive accident leave through March 20, 2011, briefly returning to work on March 21, 2011. (ECF No. 53-12, at 3). On March 9, 2011, the Assistant Superintendent sent correspondence to Plaintiff stating, in relevant part: "In accordance with the Accident Leave Policy, you may use work-related accident leave beginning on the first day of disability, and continuing until the day that you are able to return to work, as certified by a physician. Therefore, you will be recommended for work-related accident leave to cover your absences until you are able to return to full duty." (ECF No. 53-11). On March 10, 2011, Dr. Weeks sent further correspondence stating that Plaintiff underwent surgery on December 10, 2010 and "[d]ue to his job responsibilities, he is to continue with light duty with no running, no prolonged standing, and refrain from any steps. Mr. Raiford is to refrain from involvement in ending any altercations." ( Id. at 6). Plaintiff returned to full duty effective March 21, 2011. (ECF No. 53-10, at 4, 7).
On April 15, 2011, Dr. Weeks recommended that Mr. Raiford be returned to light duty work station. (ECF No. 53-10, at 8). Because Defendants were unable to accommodate modified duty, Mr. Raiford was granted accident leave through May 13, 2011. (ECF No. 53-12, at 3).
On May 5, 2011, Getrude White, Residential Group Life Manager II, submitted correspondence to the Superintendent requesting that Mr. Raiford be referred to the State Medical Director for a workability evaluation to determine if he is able to perform the duties of his position. (ECF No. 53-10, at 4). On May 20, 2011, Kathryn Marr, Director of Human Resources with the Department of Juvenile Services, requested that Dr. Robert Toney, the State Medical Director, perform a workability evaluation of Gregory Raiford "to determine if he is able to continue to perform the duties of his classification. Mr. Raiford is a DJS Resident Advisor Trainee with the Department of Juvenile Services' Cheltenham Youth Facility." (ECF No. 53-12, at 3). Plaintiff was informed on May 12, 2011 that the Department had requested that he be referred to the State Medical Director for a workability evaluation to determine his ability to perform the essential duties of his position as a Resident Advisor Trainee. (ECF No. 53-13, at 1). The letter to Mr. Raiford also stated, in relevant part:
Additionally, attached is a position description of your current essential job duties, the Department requests that your physician please determine your ability to perform the essential functions of the job. Based on his or her assessment the Department will consider possible temporary accommodations needed for your return to work as soon as possible, e.g., part-time, modified or light duty.
( Id. at 2). On May 13, 2011, Dr. Weeks sent correspondence stating that Mr. Raiford was evaluated on May 13, 2011 and recommending that he "continue with light duty with no running, no prolonged standing, and refrain from any steps[.]... Mr. Raiford is also to refrain from involvement in ending any altercations." (ECF No. 53-14, at 3). More facts will be provided in the analysis section below.
After reviewing the documentation provided by Plaintiff and the Department of Juvenile Services and examining Mr. Raiford, Dr. Toney provided to Defendants his complete workability evaluation. Specifically, on May 25, 2011, Dr. Toney sent the results of his workability evaluation, stating, inter alia :
Based on the above information, it is my impression that Mr. Raiford is unable to perform the essential duties of his position at this time with or without reasonable accommodations. I have reviewed the task analysis sheet and the job description for a Resident Advisor.
It is my impression that Mr. Raiford is likely at or near maximum medical improvement. Based on the duration of his symptoms, it is my impression that he will not likely be able to perform the essential duties of his position with or without reasonable accommodations in the foreseeable future. The agency is therefore advised to take appropriate administrative actions in terms of his employment status as a Resident Advisor Trainee.
(ECF No. 53-16, at 4).
After receiving the workability evaluation from Dr. Toney, the Department of Juvenile Services sent a letter to Plaintiff on May 31, 2011 informing him regarding the results of the evaluation and his options. ( See ECF No. 53-17). Specifically, Plaintiff was advised that he may: resign; explore other vacant positions within the Department of Juvenile Services; participate in the career assessment and development segment of the Division of Rehabilitation Services (DORS) program; or participate in the ...