United States Court of Appeals, District of Columbia Circuit
Brien O. Hill, Appellant
Associates for Renewal in Education, Inc., Appellee
March 16, 2018
from the United States District Court for the District of
Columbia (No. 1:12-cv-00823)
Ding, appointed by the court, argued the cause as amicus
curiae in support of appellant. With him on the brief was
Anthony F. Shelley, appointed by the court.
O. Hill, pro se, filed the briefs for appellant.
Jiyoung Yoon argued the cause and filed the briefs for
Before: Rogers, Kavanaugh [*] and Wilkins, Circuit Judges.
WILKINS CIRCUIT JUDGE
an Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA")
employment case. Plaintiff Brien Hill is a single-leg amputee
who taught in defendant Associates for Renewal in
Education's ("ARE's") afterschool program.
The District Court granted partial summary judgment for ARE
on two of Hill's claims, which he now appeals. Three
other claims went to trial, where Hill was awarded damages
for ARE's failure to accommodate his disability by
refusing his request to teach on a lower floor. The primary
issues on appeal are whether ARE also failed to reasonably
accommodate Hill's disability by refusing his request for
a classroom aide, and whether ARE's failures to
accommodate Hill's disability created a hostile work
environment. Hill proceeded pro se in the District
Court and was represented by appointed counsel for this
affirm the District Court's conclusion that Hill has not
proffered sufficient undisputed facts for his
hostile-work-environment claim to survive summary judgment.
We reverse as to Hill's remaining failure-to-accommodate
claim, however, because Hill's allegations present a
triable issue of fact as to whether ARE violated the ADA when
it refused his request for a classroom aide.
following facts are taken from the parties' submissions
on ARE's motion for summary judgment and are undisputed
unless otherwise indicated. ARE is a non-profit that provides
care and educational programs to underserved children and
adults in Washington, D.C. It is located in a three-story
building with no elevator, requiring teachers to climb up and
down the stairs "for fire and emergency evacuation
drills, supervised outdoor play and scheduled student
lavatory breaks located on the basement floor."
Supplemental Brief for Plaintiff ("Pl. Supp.") 3,
Hill v. Assoc. for Renewal in Educ., No. 12-cv-823,
ECF No. 41. Hill, who wears a leg prosthesis, was employed by
ARE in various capacities until his employment was terminated
in December 2008. As an ARE teacher and program aide,
Hill's duties included "instructing participants in
the classroom, on field trips or outside activities;
prepar[ing] and administer[ing] overall classroom management;
counsel[ing] participants on academic and behavioral
challenges, as well as, provid[ing] administrative and/or
clerical support to the administrative personnel."
Affidavit of La'Troy Bailey ("Bailey Aff.")
¶ 5, ECF No. 32-1. Prior to 2007, Hill requested and was
granted several accommodations for his disability, including
a request for assignment to a lower-level classroom.
2007, Hill fell while walking across the ARE playground,
"severely injur[ing his] amputated stump and damag[ing
his] prosthesis." Declaration of Brien Hill ¶ 5,
ECF No. 33. Upon returning to work, he requested a classroom
aide for himself and his pregnant co-teacher. Hill also
requested that he be able to continue holding class on the
second floor of the building. These requests were granted
until August 27, 2007, when Hill was reassigned to a
classroom by himself on the third floor and without a
classroom aide. Hill alleged that he "expressed [his]
concerns" about this reassignment verbally on August 31,
2007; that he made a written request to be "repositioned
back to the lower level" and have "the
accommodation of having an Aide assigned to [his]
classroom;" and that he followed up with "daily
verbal request[s]" for these two accommodations
throughout the school year. Declaration of Brien Hill
("Hill Decl.") ¶¶ 8-10, ECF No. 10. These
accommodations were not provided. Hill was the only teacher
in his program who was not assigned a classroom aide, and
Hill taught more students than any of his colleagues.
the same period of time, Hill began to have disciplinary
issues at work. On September 1, 2007, Hill's duties were
changed to a part-time position due to a reduction in force
and due to his "excessive tardiness and inconsistent
call-ins." Bailey Aff. ¶ 4. His supervisor
eventually recommended Hill's termination, and on that
same day, Hill submitted a letter to ARE's Deputy
Director of Education requesting review of the denial of his
requests for a ...