United States District Court, W.D. Oklahoma
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
J. CAUTHRON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
before the Court is Defendant Cedar Creek, LLC's Motion
for Summary Judgment (Dkt. No. 24). Plaintiff has responded
and the Motion is now at issue.
employed Plaintiff as a human resources assistant when she
suffered a panic attack at work on January 29, 2014.
Plaintiff's supervisor, Michelle Lewis, witnessed the
attack. Plaintiff's attacks were generally triggered by
anxiety caused by driving, especially in unfavorable weather
February 7, 2014, Plaintiff emailed Lewis and requested to
work the 9:00-6:00 shift to avoid traffic and asked to work
remotely from home. The same day Lewis responded via email
that she would consider the flex schedule request and
explained working remotely was not an option as Plaintiff
needed to report to the office location. Although Plaintiff
had worked from home before, remote access equipment was for
occasional use only. Lewis's affidavit explains, and
Plaintiff does not object, this restriction was because human
resource personnel must be physically present to access
confidential personnel files and be accessible to Cedar Creek
employees to address human resource issues.
states Plaintiff worked a flex schedule following the
February 7 email, which Plaintiff does not materially
dispute. On April 30, 2014, Plaintiff submitted a Family
Medical Leave Request for Leave Form to Defendant, requesting
intermittent Family and Medical Leave Act
(“FMLA”) leave beginning the same day. Defendant
notified Plaintiff of its approval of her request for
intermittent FMLA leave on May 2. On May 9, Plaintiff
submitted an ADA Request for Reasonable Accommodation Form
where she requested six accommodations: 1) work remotely from
home; 2) allow a flexible work schedule for counseling and
medication management; 3) allow flexible start and end times
of the work day; 4) allow communication during work hours to
receive support from doctor, family members, or others during
times of anxiety; 5) allow breaks during the work shift when
anxiety is starting to manifest; and 6) allow time to
document the anxiety.
20, 2014, Defendant responded to Plaintiff's ADA Request
for Reasonable Accommodation Form. The response stated
Plaintiff would not be allowed to work from her residence
because Plaintiff's “job functions require [her]
daily presence at the Company.” (Cedar Creek Letter,
Dkt. No. 24-15, p. 2.) Plaintiff was allowed a flexible work
schedule “to avoid driving in high traffic and poor
weather conditions” and Plaintiff could place calls for
support during the work day and it would “be accounted
for as intermittent FMLA leave.” Plaintiff was
instructed to “feel free to take breaks or employ other
stress management techniques during the work day” and
to close the door of her office if she needed “privacy
to place a call or take a stress management break.”
(Cedar Creek Letter, Dkt. No. 24-15, p. 2.) Defendant states,
and Plaintiff does not object, that Plaintiff had been
allowed these accommodations since February. Plaintiff and
two supervisors met to discuss the accommodations and
Plaintiff indicated she thought they were adequate.
describes a number of performance issues that took place in
mid-2014 which were unrelated to Plaintiff's medical
conditions. The issues include one circumstance of Plaintiff
disregarding instructions given to her by Lewis, resulting in
a written warning on April 29, 2014. Defendant describes
three other incidents where Plaintiff made financial mistakes
and one instance involving an incorrect wage garnishment with
a court. Plaintiff does not deny the performance issues took
place, but does deny they were serious infractions since no
supervisor took disciplinary action at the time.
2014, Defendant created a new position within the human
resources department and hired an additional employee.
Defendant created the position due to company growth and
while Plaintiff's job title and compensation did not
change, she was given some new responsibilities and some
prior responsibilities were allocated to the new employee.
Plaintiff and the new employee were cross-trained on each
August 2014, the human resource department, now composed of
three employees, moved from private offices to one large
workspace. Defendant states, and Plaintiff does not dispute,
it relocated the department due to growth and reorganization
of the company's corporate headquarters. Plaintiff
complains this was an unreasonable unilateral revocation of
her accommodations allowing her to have a private space to
make calls and perform stress management techniques
throughout the day. Defendant offered new private space
accommodations in the conference room, gym, restroom, or
Plaintiff's vehicle. Following another performance issue
where Plaintiff unilaterally reassigned her tasks to the new
human resource employee, Lewis made the decision to terminate
Plaintiff's employment effective September 15, 2014.
standard for summary judgment is well established. Summary
judgment may only be granted if the evidence of record shows
“there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact
and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of
law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). The movant bears the initial
burden of demonstrating the absence of material fact
requiring judgment as a matter of law. Celotex Corp. v.
Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23 (1986). A fact is material
if it is essential to the proper disposition of the claim.
Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248
(1986). If the movant carries this initial burden, the
nonmovant must then set forth specific facts outside the
pleadings and admissible into evidence which would convince a
rational trier of fact to find for the nonmovant.
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). All facts and reasonable inferences
therefrom are construed in the light most favorable to the
nonmoving party. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith
Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986).
Discrimination in Violation of ADA/ADAAA
Federal law requires “[n]o covered entity shall
discriminate against a qualified individual on the basis of
disability in regard to job application procedures, the
hiring, advancement, or discharge of employees, employee
compensation, job training, and other terms, ...