FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF
PUERTO RICO [Hon. Pedro A. Delgado-Hernández, U.S.
Porro-Vizcarra, with whom Yesenia M. Varela-Colón and
Manuel Porro Vizcarra Law Offices were on brief, for
Lucía Rodríguez Vélez, with whom
Néstor J. Navas D'Acosta, Navas &
Rodríguez, P.S.C., Mariel Y. Haack, and Adsuar
Muñiz Goyco Seda & Pérez-Ochoa, P.S.C. were
on brief, for appellees Correctional Health Services
Corporation (CHSC) and Liberty Mutual Insurance Company.
Margarita Mercado-Echegaray, Solicitor General, with whom
Andrés González-Berdecía, Assistant
Solicitor General, Department of Justice, Commonwealth of
Puerto Rico, was on brief, for appellee Commonwealth Of
Howard, Chief Judge, Torruella and Lynch, Circuit Judges.
HOWARD, Chief Judge.
Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"), 42 U.S.C.
§ 12001, et seq., provides persons with disabilities
equal opportunities under law. Plaintiff-appellant Gisela
alleges that her employers violated the ADA by discharging
her and not rehiring her because of her vision disability.
Because the record establishes that the defendants acted for
a legitimate, non-discriminatory reason, we affirm the
district court's entry of summary judgment in their
the record in the light most favorable to the non-moving
party, Vélez. Collazo-Rosado v. Univ. of Puerto
Rico, 765 F.3d 86, 89 (1st Cir. 2014). Vélez
worked as a contract health educator for the Puerto Rico
Department of Corrections ("the Department") and
the Correctional Health Services Corporation ("the
Corporation"). The Department operates Puerto Rico's
correctional facilities. The Corporation provides health care
for the Department's inmates.
2007, Vélez was diagnosed with the eye disease
diabetic retinopathy. In February 2010, she asked the
defendants to reasonably accommodate her vision loss. That
same month, she underwent laser eye surgery. Afterward, she
did not return to work. In April, the Corporation denied her
request for reasonable accommodations on the basis that she
was an independent contractor.
that month, the defendants considered whether to renew their
professional services contracts, and they affirmatively
recommended the renewal of Vélez's contract. They
also notified the contractors about the renewal process via
an automatically-generated email. The email was sent over the
Department intranet, a private computer network accessible
only from the Department's premises.
says that because she had stopped going to work, she did not
sign on to the intranet or read the notice. Nevertheless, she
acknowledges that she understood the contract renewal
procedures, including whom she had to contact, the paperwork
required, and the deadline. Despite this undisputed evidence,
she did not submit the required paperwork or contact the
defendants about the renewal. Her contract subsequently
expired in June 2010 and was not renewed.
the time that the contract renewal process was unfolding,
Vélez applied for government benefits through the
Vocational Rehabilitation Program. On her application, she
claimed that she had left her job with the defendants because
her "[c]ondition prevented [her] from doing job."
In May 2010, she was deemed eligible to receive benefits
under the Program.
following February, Vélez filed an administrative
complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
("EEOC"), claiming that the defendants had
discriminated against her because of her disability. She
later formalized this charge, see 29 C.F.R.
§§ 1626.3, 1626.6, 1626.8, and the EEOC notified
her of her right to sue. Vélez then brought this
action in the District of Puerto Rico, alleging that the
defendants violated the ADA.She alleged discrimination on two
grounds: first, that the defendants actually or
constructively discharged her by denying her request for
reasonable accommodations; and second, after
Vélez's contract expired in June 2010, that the
defendants refused to rehire her because of her disability.
Vélez also alleged that the defendants refused to
rehire her in retaliation against her request for reasonable
district court awarded summary judgment to the defendants.
The court assumed that Vélez was an employee rather
than an independent contractor, and that she had exhausted
administrative remedies. It nevertheless dismissed
Vélez's discrimination claims for three reasons:
(1) Vélez was not an ADA "qualified
individual" because she admitted to the Vocational
Rehabilitation Program that she could not work; (2) the
defendants' denial of Vélez's request for
reasonable accommodations did not constitute discharge; and
(3) the defendants' decision not to rehire Vélez