The opinion of the court was delivered by: TERRENCE McVERRY, District Judge
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Before the Court for disposition are Defendant's MOTION FOR
SUMMARY JUDGMENT (Document No. 24), with brief in support
(Document No. 25) ("Motion" and "Brief," respectively), and
PLAINTIFF'S BRIEF IN OPPOSITION TO DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY
JUDGMENT (Document No. 29) ("Response"). After considering the
filings of the parties, the evidence of record and the relevant
statutory and case law, Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment
will be granted in part and denied in part.
Plaintiff Lisa J. O'Hara ("O'Hara") began to work for defendant
First Commonwealth Professional Resources, Inc. ("FCPR") on
October 9, 2000. Def's Stmt. of Facts at ¶ 1. O'Hara was
subsequently promoted to Vice President and Manager,
Organizational Learning. Id. at ¶ 2. Upon her promotion O'Hara
reported to Thaddeus Clements ("Clements"), Senior Vice President
of Human Resources, who was instrumental in promoting her. Id.
at ¶ 3.
On September 27, 2002, Plaintiff slipped and fell on wet steps
as she was leaving work; the fall injured her left leg, ankle and
foot. Id. at ¶ 5. Due to her injuries, Plaintiff was unable to
work. Id. Shortly after her injury occurred, Plaintiff began to
receive workers' compensation benefits, which Defendant did not
contest. Id. at ¶¶ 6-7.
As a result of the fall and injury, Plaintiff developed Reflex
Sympathetic Dystrophy Syndrome ("RSDS"), for which she underwent
sympathetic nerve block procedures. Pltf's Stmt of Facts at ¶ 10. RSDS "is a chronic, painful, and progressive
neurological condition that affects skin, muscles, joints and
bones," and "usually develops in an injured limb, such as a
broken leg, or following surgery." Id. at ¶ 11. The condition
"is characterized by various degrees of burning pain, excessive
sweating, swelling, and sensitivity to touch," and "[p]ain may
begin in one area or limb and then spread to other limbs." Id.
at ¶ 12. According to Plaintiff's affidavit, her leg is
"constantly in pain," is "extremely sensitive to touch and
temperature changes," is "generally cold but also develops hot
spots," and "chills for no reason." O'Hara aff. at ¶¶ 2-5. RSDS
limits Plaintiff's ability to regulate her body temperature,
walk, climb, crouch, stoop, bend and kneel, and it limits the
amount of time that she can sit and stand during the day. Pltf's
Stmt of Facts at ¶ 14. To combat the symptoms of RSDS, Plaintiff
takes medication; the medication reduces the symptoms, but does
not remove the condition. Id. at ¶ 15.
Plaintiff is required by her doctor to wear a brace on her left
leg. Id. at ¶ 19. When pain prevents her from wearing her
brace, Plaintiff uses a cane to walk. Id. at ¶ 21. If Plaintiff
must go up and down stairs, she must move sideways. Id.
Additionally, when walking Plaintiff has difficulty judging
distance with her foot because it feels like it is not there,
which causes her to trip. Id. Finally, Plaintiff's ankle is
very unstable, cannot be moved independently, and occasionally
goes numb. Id. at ¶ 20.
Plaintiff initially began treating with Dr. David Bizowski but
discontinued treating with him after three months because she
felt that her condition was not improving. Def's Stmt. of Facts
at ¶ 10. Plaintiff then began treating with Dr. Carl Hasselman.
Id. On February 24, 2003, Dr. Hasselman released Plaintiff to
return to work with restrictions; however, Plaintiff was not
informed that she was released to return to work until early
March. Id. at ¶ 13; Pltf's Stmt of Facts at ¶ 47. Specifically,
Plaintiff is not to sit for more than eight (8) hours, stand for
more than one (1) hour at a time for a total of four (4) hours,
or walk for more than thirty (30) minutes at a time for more than
two (2) hours a day. Pltf's Stmt of Facts at ¶ 48. Additionally,
Dr. Hasselman recommended that Plaintiff not carry any weight,
climb stairs, stoop, bend, kneel, crouch or squat. Id.
Prior to her return to work, Plaintiff spoke with Sharon
Twaddle, Defendant's workers' compensation liaison in its Human Relations Department, who told
her to contact Clements regarding the accommodations that
Plaintiff would need to return to work. Pltf's Stmt of Facts at ¶
50. On March 10, 2003, Plaintiff called Clements to request
accommodations. Id. at ¶ 51. During their conversation,
Plaintiff informed Clements of the specific restrictions set
forth by Dr. Hasselman and reviewed the restriction sheet
line-by-line. Id. at ¶¶ 52-53. Clements responded by asserting
that Plaintiff never performed any of the tasks outlined in Dr.
Hasselman's restrictions. Id. at ¶ 54.*fn1
Plaintiff and Clements had another conversation regarding
Plaintiff's accommodations the next day. O'Hara dep. at 97. What
occurred during the conversation is in dispute. Plaintiff
contends that when she broached the subject of accommodations,
Clements became angry and reiterated his position that Plaintiff
never performed any of the tasks outlined in Dr. Hasselman's
restrictions. Id. at 98, 100. Plaintiff told Clements that it
appeared as if he was having a problem with her disability, and
that she would be hanging up the phone shortly. Id. at 101-02.
After telling Clements that she would be hanging up the phone
three times, Plaintiff ended the call. Id. at 102-03. The next
day, on March 12, 2003, Clements sent Plaintiff a letter
informing her that she was terminated as of March 11, 2003 due to
disrespectful, uncooperative and unprofessional behavior. Def's
Stmt. of Facts at ¶ 29.
O'Hara filed an Amended Complaint in which she has alleged
unlawful retaliation,*fn2 disability discrimination and
failure to accommodate,*fn3 in violation of the Americans
with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. § 12101 et seq., as amended
("ADA"), tortious discharge,*fn4 and violations of the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act,
43 Pa. C.S.A. § 951 et seq. ("PHRA").*fn5 Defendant has moved for
summary judgment on all counts of the Amended Complaint.
Rule 56(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure reads, in
pertinent part, as follows:
[Summary Judgment] shall be rendered forthwith 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 judgment as a matter of law.
An issue of material fact is genuine only if the evidence is
such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the
non-moving party. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc.,
477 U.S. 242
, 248 (1986). The court must view the facts in a light most
favorable to the non-moving party, and the burden of establishing
that no genuine issue of material fact exists rests with the
movant. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323. The "existence of disputed
issues of material fact should be ascertained by resolving all
inferences, doubts and issues of credibility against the moving
party." Ely v. Hall's Motor Transit Co., 590 F.2d 62
, 66 (3d
Cir. 1978) (quoting Smith v. Pittsburgh Gage & Supply Co.,
464 F.2d 870
, 874 (3d Cir. 1972)). Final credibility determinations
on material issues cannot be made in the context of a motion for
summary judgment, nor can the district court weigh the evidence.
Josey v. John R. Hollingsworth Corp., 996 F.2d 632
When the non-moving party will bear the burden of proof at
trial, the moving party's burden can be "discharged by `showing'
that is, pointing out to the District Court that there is an
absence of evidence to support the non-moving party's case."
Celotex, 477 U.S. at 325. If the moving party has carried this
burden, the burden shifts to the non-moving party who cannot rest
on the allegations of the pleadings and must "do more than simply
show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material
facts." Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp.,
475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986). When the non-moving party's evidence in
opposition to a properly supported motion for summary judgment is "merely colorable" or
"not significantly probative," the court may ...