January 18, 2018
from the United States District Court for the Southern
District of Indiana. No. l:15-cv-00391-WTL-DML - William T.
Sykes and Hamilton, Circuit Judges, and Lee, District Judge.
Riley worked for the Kokomo Housing Authority for eight years
before she was terminated in May 2014. During her employment,
Riley suffered from seizures, anxiety disorder,
post-traumatic stress disorder, bipolar disorder, and
depression, which required her to take various leaves of
absence. She now claims that the housing authority improperly
denied her requests for medical leave and retaliated against
her for these requests by disciplining and terminating her,
all in violation of the Family and Medical Leave Act, 29
U.S.C. § 2601 et seq. She also asserts that the
housing authority failed to make reasonable accommodations
and discriminated and retaliated against her in violation of
the Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. § 12101
et seq. Finally, Riley claims that she was subjected
to retaliation for engaging in protected activity in
violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42
U.S.C. § 2000e et seq., and the Fair Housing
Act, 42 U.S.C. § 3617.
district court entered summary judgment in favor of the
housing authority on all claims. We affirm.
began working for the Kokomo Housing Authority
("KHA") as a front desk clerk in November 2008. KHA
provides vouchers to low-income individuals and families to
subsidize rent in privately owned rental properties
throughout Kokomo, Indiana.
to working at KHA, Riley had been diagnosed with bipolar
disorder, anxiety disorder, depression, post-traumatic stress
disorder, and frontal lobe seizures. Her physician's
assistant certified that, due to these medical conditions,
Riley required periodic breaks between one to eight hours per
day, for up to two days per week. Beginning in March 2010,
Riley requested, and KHA granted her, intermittent leave
under the Family and Medical Leave Act ("FMLA").
laterally transferred Riley to another position in April
2010, requiring her to split her time between two offices.
When working in the second office, Riley was assigned to work
in a closet. Riley felt that she was being punished for
taking medical leave and repeatedly asked her superiors why
she was being punished.
months later, in December 2010, KHA promoted Riley to the
position of low-rent-application processing clerk. As a
result, she received a pay raise and was moved to a different
workspace. Her duties in the new position included processing
applications for public housing, interviewing applicants,
maintaining a wait list and applicant files, and
communicating with approved applicants when units became
her medical bills were mounting, Riley applied for social
security disability benefits in 2011. Cheryl Morrow,
KHA's Director of Human Resources, had suggested that
Riley apply so that she would be eligible for Medicare and
Medicaid benefits. But when a representative from the social
security office informed Riley that she would have to quit
her job to qualify for the benefits, Riley decided not to
pursue it. As Riley sees it, Morrow's suggestion that
Riley apply for benefits reveals an intent to discriminate
against her on the basis of her disability.
2012, Riley submitted written complaints about several of her
coworkers to Debra Cook, KHA's Chief Operating Officer.
In them, Riley complained that a male coworker had a habit of
wearing jeans that exposed his upper buttocks, that another
coworker was treating clients rudely and disrespectfully
without receiving any correction or discipline, and that her
female supervisor had poor personal hygiene and routinely
hugged Riley and kissed her cheek. Cook addressed these
concerns with the employees, and the issues were resolved.
this same period, other KHA employees regularly complained to
Cook about Riley. In short, they reported numerous incidents
when Riley had treated them in a negative and demeaning
September and October 2013, Riley requested and received 43
days of FMLA leave from KHA. Riley sought additional medical
leave for doctor appointments in February 2014. And, although
she had exhausted her available leave time, KHA gave Riley
time off to attend them.
March 2014, KHA issued Riley a written warning for
insubordination for allowing a KHA tenant to transfer from
one housing unit to another without obtaining the necessary
approvals. What happened is not in dispute.
KHA tenant wishes to transfer from one unit to another, KHA
requires the tenant to submit a written transfer request. The
request is reviewed by KHA, and if approved, the tenant's
information is provided to someone in Riley's position so
that arrangements can be made for the tenant to see the new
March 6, 2014, Riley arranged for a friend, a KHA tenant who
wanted to move to another housing unit, to visit a new unit.
However, the friend had not submitted a transfer application
to KHA, nor had the friend been approved for a transfer. That
same day, Riley provided the tenant's name to Margaret
King, a KHA leasing specialist, and explained that her friend
would be transferring from one unit to another. King
requested the tenant's file, and Riley assured her that
the file would be forthcoming. Based on Riley's
representations, King assumed that the transfer had already
been approved and leased the new unit to Riley's friend.
KHA had not approved the transfer, it issued a verbal warning
to King and a written warning to Riley for intentionally
circumventing the transfer policy and for insubordination.
According to Riley, she was falsely blamed for the unapproved
transfer because her only ...