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Osei v. Coastal Int'l Sec., Inc.

United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Alexandria Division

November 19, 2014

NAOMI J. OSEI, Plaintiff,
v.
COASTAL INTERNATIONAL SECURITY, INC., Defendant

For Naomi J. Osei, Plaintiff: Theodore S. Allison, LEAD ATTORNEY, Karr & Allison PC, Washington, DC.

For Coastal International Security, Inc., Defendant: Declan C. Leonard, Kathryn Megan Lipp, Stephanie Diane Wilson, Berenzweig Leonard LLP, McLean, VA.

Page 567

MEMORANDUM OPINION

Liam O'Grady, United States District Judge.

I. Overview

This matter comes before the Court on Defendant Coastal International Security's motion for summary judgment. Dkt. No. 32. The plaintiff filed her opposition, to which the defendant replied. The Court heard oral argument on October 24, 2014. Upon careful consideration of the pleadings and exhibits submitted by the parties, the Court hereby DENIES Defendant's

Page 568

motion for summary judgment (Dkt. No. 32) for the reasons set forth below.

II. Background

This case arises out of an employment relationship between plaintiff Naomi Osei (" Osei" ) and defendant Coastal International Security (" Coastal" ), a contractor providing private security guards for the federal government. At all relevant times, Osei worked as a security guard at the General Services Administration (" GSA" ) warehouse in Springfield, Virginia. Coastal was Osei's most recent employer, having taken over the GSA contract from her previous employer, American Security.

In April 2013, Osei was disciplined for failing to follow the proper procedures for handling state and national Hags during a storm. She was also disciplined for failing to report a sounding fire alarm to the Federal Protective Services control center. Osei refused to sign a written notice of these infractions. Coastal alleges that upon being presented with the notices by her supervisor Sonia Matthews, Osei " became irate" and " aggressively yell[ed]" at Matthews. Def.'s Mem. Supp. Mot. Summ. J. (" DMSJ" ) at 5. Osei was thereafter placed on administrative leave when Matthews claimed that she feared for her safety in light of Osei's allegedly violent response to the disciplinary notice.

On May 3, 2013, Osei's counsel sent Coastal a letter indicating that they believed Coastal's actions leading up to and surrounding her suspension constituted " a pattern of attempting to discourage Ms. Osei's exercise of [FMLA] leave...." DMSJ, Att. 12. Specifically, Osei alleges that in July 2012 she requested leave to administer albuterol to her daughter every four hours following a recent hospitalization. Matthews denied this request and, as a result, Osei did not take leave. In January 2013, Osei took leave to care for her then three year old daughter, who was hospitalized for more than a week at Inova Fairfax Hospital because of her severe asthma condition. Coastal treated this absence as excused. On March 31, 2013, just a few days prior to being disciplined, Osei requested leave to take her " coughing and wheezing" daughter to the Pediatric Lung Center. Osei Dep. 21:5-21:18. Matthews denied this request and Coastal treated her absence as unexcused.

On May 16, 2013, almost six weeks after Osei was placed on leave, Coastal's human resources director, Janice Simons, initiated an email correspondence with Osei in an attempt to " get her to come back to work." Simons Dep. 28:22-29:1. Through Simons, Coastal offered to reinstate her at one of its other locations. The positions offered to Osei were for part-time work on weekends. Osei and Simons proceeded to correspond back and forth over the available locations as well as the schedule and hours for each. The parties dispute whether Osei received an email from Simons stating that Coastal had full-time opportunities available as well. They also dispute who is at fault for the tapering off of these communications. Osei has not worked with Coastal since her suspension in April 2013.

Osei's first amended complaint claimed Family Medical Leave Act (" FMLA" ) reprisal, wrongful termination, violation of the Virginia insulting words statute, and breach of her employment contract. On March 6, 2014, the Court dismissed all but the FMLA retaliation claim. Dkt. No. 23.

III. Standard of Review

Under Rule 56(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, summary judgment is proper " if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no ...


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