United States District Court, D. Massachusetts
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER ON DEFENDANT’S MOTION FOR
Dennis Saylor IV United States District Judge
an action alleging unlawful employment discrimination,
harassment, and retaliation on the basis of religion.
Plaintiff Christine Carr, a former medical support assistant
at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in West Roxbury,
Massachusetts, has filed suit against her former employer,
alleging various forms of religious harassment and
discrimination, as well as retaliation for her complaints
regarding that harassment. She is proceeding pro se.
Robert McDonald, Secretary of Veterans Affairs, has moved for
summary judgment as to all claims. For the reasons described
below, that motion will be granted.
Carr was hired in 2010 as a Medical Support Assistant at the
VA Medical Center in West Roxbury, Massachusetts. (Wichers
Decl. Ex. C). Prior to her hiring as a medical support
assistant, Carr had been employed at the center as a food
service worker from 2003-2010. (Wichers Decl. Ex. B). Carr is
Catholic. (Wichers Decl. Ex. F).
Carr’s Work History
is no dispute that Carr did not have a good working
relationship with many of her coworkers or supervisors.
Numerous colleagues and supervisors complained about her
behavior. (See Def. SMF ¶¶ 8-15).
Coworkers complained that Carr refused to do her work,
refused to be trained, was rude and dismissive to patients,
and sent lengthy and defensive emails that disparaged others.
(Id.). The record reflects that during her
employment as a medical support assistant, Carr had four
different direct supervisors, a second-line supervisor, and
three different third-line supervisors. (Wichers Decl. Exs.
F-I). Of those supervisors, six were also Catholic, including
three of her four direct supervisors. (Wichers Decl. Exs. F,
J-M). One of Carr’s supervisors, Alex Paganucci,
testified that Carr was “completely
unmanageable.” (Wichers Decl. Ex. J). At least three
other supervisors gave similarly negative testimony
concerning Carr’s work performance. (See
Wichers Decl. Ex. G, H, K).
record also contains evidence that Carr was on the receiving
end of numerous disciplinary actions. In 2012, she received
an admonishment in March; a letter of counseling in May; and
a second admonishment in September. (Morall Decl. Exs. D, E;
Wichers Decl. Ex. Q). The May 2012 incident led to a
mediation between the VA and Carr’s union
representatives from the National Association of Government
Employees. (Wichers Decl. Ex. P). Following mediation, the VA
agreed to remove the letter of counseling from Carr’s
record and to provide her with additional job-related
December 19, 2012, five days after the shooting massacre at
Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, Carr
sent her supervisor an e-mail stating: “1ST MARINE
CORP. GUADAL CANAL SNIPER SCOUT’S DAUGHTERS DON’T
RUN . . . laugh together all you want . . . .” (Bediako
Decl. Ex. A). She was placed on paid administrative leave
while management and the VA police investigated the incident.
(Wichers Decl. Exs. F, R).
February 2013, Carr received a three-day suspension for the
e-mail incident, another letter of counseling in April, and a
fourteen-day suspension in May. (Wichers Decl. Exs. T-V). In
October 2013, supervisor Chris Powers recommended that she be
terminated, but the human resources department downgraded the
discipline to a second fourteen-day suspension. (Wichers
Decl. Ex. H).
February 2014, Carr was placed on paid administrative absence
pending an investigation into an allegation that she had
e-mailed the VA’s Office of Resolution Management
confidential personal and medical information for hundreds of
veterans (purportedly in support of a 2013 administrative
complaint of discrimination). (Ritter Decl. Exs. A, B). When
management escorted Carr to her lockers for cleanout before
the paid leave began, they discovered printouts of all the
confidential records. (Wichers Decl. Ex. FF).
April 2014, the VA gave Carr a notice of proposed removal,
which became final in June 2014. Def. SMF ¶¶ 38,
42. The four charges listed in the notice were (1) improper
retention of veterans’ records; (2) failure to
safeguard confidential matter or access to such; (3) failure
to discharge duties conscientiously and effectively, based on
(a) an incident when Carr went to lunch instead of assisting
a disabled veteran, and (b) three incidents when Carr failed
to process all of the Interfacility Consults
(“IFCs”) assigned to her; and (4) unreasonable
delay in carrying out instructions, based on a
month-and-a-half delay in Carr’s compliance with
repeated directives to submit official requests for prior
absences. (Wichers Decl. Ex. HH).
employment was terminated effective June 18, 2014. (Wichers
Decl. Ex. LL).
Carr’s Equal Employment ...