United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Alexandria Division
M. HILTON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
MATTER comes before the Court on Defendant Didlake,
Inc.'s Motion for Summary Judgment.
Chantal Lacasse alleges eight causes of action based on her
sixteen months of employment with Defendant Didlake, Inc.
("Didlake"): Count I, battery; Count II, assault;
Count III, false imprisonment; Count IV, intentional
infliction of emotional distress; Count V, hostile work
environment under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964
("Title VII"); Count VI, retaliation based on sex
pursuant to Title VII; Count VII, discrimination in violation
of the Americans with Disabilities Act, as amended
("ADA"); and Count VIII, retaliation in
contravention of the ADA.
Didlake is a 501(c)(3) organization providing services and
employment opportunities to people with disabilities. Didlake
creates opportunities by for rehabilitative services,
employment options, and other assistance to persons with
disabilities in Virginia, Maryland, the District of Columbia,
and Pennsylvania. In 2015, Didlake served more than 2, 000
people with disabilities and directly employed over 800
persons with disabilities through its janitorial services
contracts with the federal government.
is a 26-year old female with epilepsy and learning
disabilities. In 2011, the Virginia Department of Aging and
Rehabilitative Services ("DARS") determined that
Plaintiff was eligible to work in a supported employment
environment and referred her to Didlake for assistance.
Plaintiff began working with Didlake to find a supported
employment position. Such a position involves performing a
mainstream job with the assistance of an employment
specialist who is also known as a "job coach."
Plaintiff's employment specialist was Lyn Cardona, a
Didlake employee in its Rehabilitative Services Department.
Ms. Cardona assisted Plaintiff in finding a part-time job,
among other services, and initially found her a position
working at Giant. After a period of employment with Giant,
including ongoing employment support services from Ms.
Cardona, Plaintiff lost that job.
about January 28, 2013, Plaintiff secured a job working for
Didlake at the Defense Logistics Agency ("DLA").
Plaintiff was hired to work as a janitor from 8 a.m. until 12
p.m. Plaintiff was responsible for independently cleaning
stairwells under the direct supervision of Didlake Janitorial
Supervisor Brenda Morales. Ms. Cardona provided employment
support services for Plaintiff and visited her onsite several
times monthly. Ms. Morales worked with Ms. Cardona to provide
the first opportunity to correct any improper workplace
behavior by the Plaintiff.
Morales, in turn, was supervised by Didlake Project Manager
Roy Evo. When Didlake hired Mr. Evo in 2009, he had more than
twenty years of relevant experience and positive professional
references. Based on his favorable performance, Didlake
assigned Mr. Evo to be DLA Project Manager in 2011. Mr. Evo
was primarily responsible for ensuring that the government
customer was satisfied with Didlake's onsite work.
Throughout his four-year tenure with Didlake, Mr. Evo
received consistently positive performance appraisals, was
never disciplined, and was never the subject of complaints or
allegations against him prior to Plaintiff's allegations.
maintains a sexual harassment policy, and reviews the policy
with each employee upon hire. Plaintiff received a copy of
this policy, among other pertinent Didlake policies and
procedures, when she began work at DLA. Mr. Evo, likewise,
received a copy. He signed off on his understanding of the
policy when he began working for Didlake. Further,
Didlake's Human Resources Department conducted sexual
harassment training at DLA during Plaintiff's tenure on
March 20, 2013. This training involved reviewing the policy
through a PowerPoint presentation and small group
a secure federal facility with restricted access. In order to
work for Didlake at DLA, employees must be screened by the
federal government and issued access badges. Plaintiff
alleges that on August 15, 2013 toward the end of her
shift-between 11 a.m. and 12 p.m.-Mr. Evo found her in a
supply closet, closed the door, kissed her, and while
restraining her with his hands managed to undo his belt, pull
his pants down, undo Plaintiff's belt, and pull her pants
down. Plaintiff alleges that the incident ended abruptly
because someone knocked on the closet door, though no one was
present when the door opened.
August 17, 2013, (a Saturday), Plaintiff informed her parents
that Mr. Evo kissed her. She did not offer more information.
Plaintiff's parents did not report Plaintiff's
statement to Didlake. She came to work as usual the following
Monday, August 19, 2013.
August 19, 2013, Plaintiff shared her story with two
individuals. Plaintiff told a non-supervisory janitorial
coworker and someone who assists at the DLA site, but is not
an employee of Didlake, that Mr. Evo kissed her. Those
individuals relayed the information to Mr. Evo, who promptly
reported Plaintiff's statements to Didlake's Human
Resources Department. Because the report came at the end of
Plaintiff's work shift, Human Resources arranged to
interview her the following day.
morning of August 20, 2013, Didlake's Manager of Labor
and Employee Relations, Susie Kennedy, and Plaintiff's
job coach, Ms. Cardona, met privately with Plaintiff to try
to determine her claim. Plaintiff relayed that she and Mr.
Evo were in a closet together toward the end of her shift on
August 15, 2013, and that he kissed her, pulled his pants
down and pulled her pants down. Plaintiff stated-for the
first time-that Mr. Evo kissed her on another unknown
occasion in July 2013. Immediately after receiving this
information, Ms. Cardona called Plaintiff's mother and
escorted Plaintiff to her transportation so that she could go
home. Didlake placed Plaintiff on paid administrative leave
to ensure she did not have any further opportunity to see or
be contacted by Mr. Evo during the investigation.
complete her investigation, Ms. Kennedy spoke with potential
witnesses, including Mr. Evo. She confirmed that Mr. Evo was
with other people during the time in question on August 15,
2013. When Ms. Kennedy spoke with Mr. Evo, he denied that he
ever kissed Plaintiff or did any of the things that she
reported. Ms. Kennedy learned that Mr. Evo was conducting
interviews for several open positions during the timeframe in
question. This information was confirmed by a job coach
employed by an entity other than Didlake, who was
participating in the interviews, as well as Didlake's
administrative assistant at the DLA site.
Kennedy drafted a report about her investigation. That report
was provided to her supervisor, Trisha Juerling, and other
members of Didlake's senior staff. Because there were no
eyewitnesses, Mr. Evo specifically denied the allegations,
and Mr. Evo had a confirmed alibi, Ms. Kennedy found that
Didlake could not corroborate Plaintiff's allegations. To
conclude Didlake's investigation, on September 4, 2013,
Ms. Kennedy met with Mr. Evo and issued him a ...