The opinion of the court was delivered by: Eduardo C. Robreno, Judge
Plaintiff Edward R. Williams ("plaintiff") brought suit against
defendant Philadelphia Housing Authority ("PHA") based on claims arising
out of plaintiff's employment as a police officer with and subsequent
termination by PHA. The plaintiff was temporarily suspended without pay
as a result of a heated altercation he had with a superior officer,
during and after which plaintiff made a number of profane and threatening
remarks. Plaintiff's hiatus from PHA lasted from his suspension, on May
19, 1998, until he was fired, on December 29, 1998. During the period
between plaintiff's suspension and subsequent termination, plaintiff
underwent various psychological examinations. The examining psychologists
concluded that plaintiff suffered from severe depression, and that as a
result, plaintiff should be
prohibited from carrying a firearm for a temporary period of time.
Based on these events, PHA refused to allow plaintiff to return to work
at PHA until plaintiff received medical clearance to carry a firearm once
again. In turn, plaintiff requested that PHA allow him to work in a
capacity where it would not be necessary to carry a weapon. PHA refused,
citing safety concerns, contending that plaintiff would have access to
firearms in all available employment positions for which he qualified at
After the altercation with Captain Geiger, plaintiff stopped coming to
work. While out of work, plaintiff drew down all available medical leave
to which he was entitled.*fn1 After he had exhausted all of his medical
leave, plaintiff requested in writing and PHA granted a leave of absence
on two occasions. After the second leave of absence expired, although
directed to do so by PHA, plaintiff did not request any additional
leave. As a result of plaintiff's failure to request additional leave,
his employment with PHA was terminated on December 29, 1998.
In his complaint, plaintiff alleges disability discrimination under the
ADA, retaliation in violation of the ADA and disability discrimination in
violation of the PHRA. Before the court are: 1) defendant's motion for
summary judgment on all of these claims and 2) plaintiff's motion for
partial summary judgment on its claim of disability discrimination for
failure to accommodate.
For the reasons stated below, the court will grant defendant's
motion for summary judgment as to all counts, and correspondingly
deny plaintiff's motion for partial summary judgment as to failure
II. CHRONOLOGY AND BACKGROUND*fn2
The plaintiff was employed by the PHA as a housing police officer since
March 14, 1974. On May, 19, 1998, plaintiff was suspended without pay.
According to both parties, plaintiff was suspended as a direct result of
a heated confrontation between plaintiff and Captain Edward Geiger, one
of plaintiff's superior officers.
On the same night, following the confrontation, plaintiff called a
Delaware County Psychological Services Counselor. He spoke with the
counselor for approximately thirty minutes. During this conversation, the
plaintiff stated that he understood "why people go postal." He also talked
about "smoking people" and "having the means to do it." In response to
these statements, the counselor insisted that plaintiff go immediately to
an emergency room, and informed the plaintiff that if he did not comply
voluntarily, he (the counselor) would be forced to involve the police.
After responding in a profane and vulgar manner, the plaintiff hung up
Two days after the incident with Captain Geiger, on May, 21, 1998,
Captain Geiger wrote to plaintiff directing him to report to the
PHA radio room for duty. Plaintiff, however, never reported to the
radio room as directed, but instead, began calling out sick on a
On two separate occasions, July 29, 1998 and September 22, 1998, PHA
advised plaintiff that he had exhausted his available leave and that
unless he requested an additional leave of absence, he would be deemed to
have voluntarily resigned. In turn, plaintiff twice requested, and was
granted,*fn3 additional leaves of absence.
Meanwhile, plaintiff underwent a psychological examination by Dr.
Laurene Finley, the PHA designated psychologist.*fn4 In a letter
dated October 10, 1998, Dr. Finley wrote, in relevant part:
Mr. Williams is fully capable of working, for a
temporary period, in either an administrative and/or
clerical capacity. He should not carry a weapon,
however, for a minimum period of three months. He can
work around other officers who will be carrying their
weapon. . . . [I]t is anticipated that [plaintiff]
will be able to fully return to active duty, resuming
his usual job responsibilities after this approximate
three month period. However, a more definite frame
cannot be provided at this time, pending a
On October 13, 1998, plaintiff requested that PHA temporarily reassign
him to work in the PHA training unit. Assistant Chief Hughes, on behalf
of PHA, responded, in writing, that "it is the position of this police
department . . . [that] the specific position you are requesting is not
open to you due to your on-going treatment with Dr. Lauren[e] Finley. . . ."
Assistant Chief Hughes further noted that "[t]his department has also
concluded that once you have completed all of your treatment . . . with
authorization to carry firearms once again, you are to report back to
uniform patrol duty."*fn5
On October 21, 1998, plaintiff requested an assignment "in the [PHA]
radio room until [his] 3 month evaluation [was] over . . . ." If assigned
to the radio room, plaintiff would not have been required to carry a
gun. Plaintiff's request, however, was denied once again.
Noting safety concerns, as well as the anticipation that plaintiff
would return to work as a police sergeant in as early as 90 days, as the
basis for its decision, PHA denied the request. PHA also noted that
plaintiff would have access to firearms in the radio room, and would be
working closely with others who carried firearms. PHA maintained that, in
light of plaintiff's insubordinate and threatening behavior towards
Captain Geiger, coupled with plaintiff's talk of "smoking people," "going
postal," and "having the means to do it," placing plaintiff in the radio
room would have created a risk to other PHA employees. Finally, PHA
claimed that no other
positions were available at PHA for someone with plaintiff's
On December 3, 1998, Carl Marinelli, PHA's assistant General Manager of
Human Resources, informed plaintiff that, once again, he had exhausted
all his leave time at PHA, and that to maintain his employment, he needed
to request an additional leave of absence. Mr. Marinelli's letter further
informed the plaintiff that if he did not request an additional leave of
absence by December 18, 1998, his employment with PHA would be
terminated. Included within the letter was Mr. Marinelli's telephone
number. Plaintiff however, by his own admission, never called Mr.
Marinelli or otherwise responded to the letter.*fn6
On December 29, 1998, Mr. Marinelli wrote plaintiff a second letter,
informing plaintiff that his employment with PHA had been terminated. The
letter stated that PHA had terminated plaintiff's employment based upon
plaintiff's failure to request an additional leave of absence or otherwise
contact PHA in response to the December 3, 1998 letter. PHA maintains
that plaintiff's failure to respond to this letter was the sole reason
behind PHA's decision to terminate plaintiff's employment.
During the time between plaintiff's initial suspension on May 19, 1998
and the termination of his employment on December 29, 1998, the plaintiff
continued to coach his son's little league team and in that role, he
interacted, as necessary, with the participating children and their
parents. Additionally, plaintiff remained involved in the community until
he accepted a job in late 1999 that required him to work nights.
Furthermore, plaintiff indicated that during this time period, he applied
for jobs with SEPTA, Avis Rent-a-Car, Budget Rent-a-Car, and PGW, and
that in his opinion, he could have performed the essential functions of
those jobs, as well as those necessary to work in PHA's radio room,
On March 31, 2001, the plaintiff filed the instant action, alleging the
following causes of action: 1) discrimination in violation of Title VII
of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ("Title VII") and the Americans with
Disabilities Act ("ADA"); 2) retaliation in violation of Title VII and
the ADA; 3) discrimination in violation of the Pennsylvania Human
Relations Act("PHRA"); 4) intentional and/or negligent infliction of
emotional distress; 5) defamation, false light, and invasion of privacy;
6) breach of implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing; 7) wrongful
discharge; 8) discrimination in violation of the Age Discrimination in
Employment Act ("ADEA"); 9) loss of consortium (brought on the part of
Angelynne Williams); and 10) punitive damages.
On June 8, 2001, the court dismissed plaintiff's claims: 1) under Title
VII; 2) for intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress;
3) for defamation, false light, and invasion of privacy; 4) for breach of
the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing; 5) for
discrimination under the ADA; and 6) for punitive damages.
On December 20, 2001, the court dismissed plaintiff's claims for
wrongful discharge and loss of consortium.
A. The Standard for Summary Judgment.
Summary judgment may be granted "if the pleadings, depositions, answers
to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the
affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any
material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a
matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). The role of the trial court is to
determine whether there are material factual issues that merit a trial.
See Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247-48 (1986). In
making that determination, the court must give the nonmoving party the
benefit of all reasonable inferences that might be drawn from the
underlying facts. See Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp.,
475 U.S. 574, 587, (1986); Sempier v. Johnson and Higgins, 45 F.3d 724,
727 (3d Cir. 1995) (en banc). Summary ...