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Ayala v. Shinseki

United States Court of Appeals, First Circuit

March 6, 2015

BRUNILDA AYALA, Plaintiff, Appellant,
v.
ERIC KEN SHINSEKI; UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS; VETERANS HOSPITAL IN PUERTO RICO, Defendants, Appellees

Page 53

APPEAL FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF PUERTO RICO. Hon. Camille L. Vélez-Rivé, U.S. Magistrate Judge.

Affirmed.

Vladimir Mihailovich, for appellant.

Lisa E. Bhatia-Gautier, Assistant United States Attorney, with whom Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez, United States Attorney, Nelson Pérez-Sosa, Assistant United States Attorney, Chief, Appellate Division, and Juan Carlos Reyes-Ramos, Assistant United States Attorney, were on brief, for appellees.

Before Torruella, Lipez, and Barron, Circuit Judges.

OPINION

Page 54

TORRUELLA, Circuit Judge.

Plaintiff-Appellant Brunilda Ayala (" Ayala" ) challenges the district court's order granting partial summary judgment for her former employer, the Department of Veterans Affairs (" VA" ). Specifically, Ayala contends that the district court improperly refused to apply the continuing violation doctrine to her otherwise time-barred Title VII retaliation claims against the VA. After careful consideration, we affirm.

I. Background[1]

Ayala is a retired employee of the VA. She worked for the VA for approximately thirteen years. While at the VA, she worked primarily as a GS-4 Program Support Assistant in the VA's Caribbean Healthcare System, Office of Geriatrics and Extended Care.

Between 2001 and August 6, 2004, Ayala filed three Equal Employment Opportunity (" EEO" ) complaints against the VA alleging that, in retaliation for having reported her supervisor, JoséRivera, for allegedly sexually harassing interns in 2000, she suffered the following retaliatory acts[2]: she was given a poor recommendation that negatively affected her employment application at the Drug Enforcement Agency; she was moved to an office located in an empty and old part of the VA building; she was assigned to work in an office known as the " Piss Room," a room where urine and excrement would drop from the ceiling; she was transferred to work under a new supervisor, Dr. Melba Feliciano (" Dr. Feliciano" ); and assigned sporadic work for which she did not have the proper training to complete.

In September 2004, Ayala reported Dr. Feliciano to " top management" at the VA for alleged fraud. According to Ayala, Dr. Feliciano would come to the VA in the morning, punch her time card, and leave shortly thereafter to treat patients at her private practice. Ayala alleges that, in retaliation for having reported Dr. Feliciano's activity, she was stripped of all of her duties and transferred to a small windowless office. On June 11, 2007, Ayala filed a fourth EEO complaint that recounted these allegations. Ayala alleges that these employment conditions lasted until her retirement on December 31, 2012.

Ayala also claims that, as a part of the VA's retaliation against her, she periodically received false -- though largely positive -- performance evaluations for work that she was not assigned and did not do. Specifically, she received " fully successful" performance evaluations in 2008, 2009, and 2010. She also claims that, ...


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