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Jackson v. J. Lewis Crozer Library

January 7, 2009

DOROTHY JACKSON, PLAINTIFF
v.
J. LEWIS CROZER LIBRARY, ET AL., DEFENDANTS



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Stengel, J.

MEMORANDUM

Plaintiff Dorothy Jackson alleges that her employer, the J. Lewis Crozer Library and its director, Katie Newell (jointly "defendants"), discriminated against her by pretextually firing her in violation of both the Americans with Disabilities Act*fn1 and the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act.*fn2 Defendants filed a motion for summary judgment.*fn3 For the following reasons, I will deny defendants' motion.

I. BACKGROUND*fn4

In April 1995, Crozer Library hired Jackson as a part time children's librarian.*fn5 (Compl. ¶ 8). At that time, Mr. James Gear was the Director of Crozer Library. (Compl. ¶ 9). Jackson informed Gear that she suffered from macular degeneration and, as a result, she was not able to drive.*fn6 (Compl. ¶ 9). Nevertheless, Jackson told Gear that with reasonable accommodations, namely flexible hours and a driver to transport her when needed, she would be able to perform the essential job duties. (Compl. ¶ 9). With these reasonable accommodations, Jackson worked for the library without issue for seven years. (Compl. ¶ 24).

In 2002, Gear retired from Crozer Library and Newell was appointed as the new director. (Compl. ¶ 9-10). Shortly after Newell took over, Jackson informed Newell of her disability and need for accommodations. (Compl. ¶ 12). Following this conversation, Newell began systematically reassigning plaintiff's duties to other librarians. (Compl. ¶ 13). Newell then decided to eliminate the part-time children's librarian position and create a full-time children's librarian position.*fn7 (Compl. ¶ 16). In June 2003, Crozer Library's Board of Directors decided to approve the full-time children's librarian position. (Compl. ¶ 16).

On June 26, 2003, Newell offered Jackson the full-time position and provided her with a copy of the job description.*fn8 (Compl. ¶ 16). Newell informed plaintiff that if she did not accept the full-time position, then she would be terminated. Approximately one week later, Newell asked Jackson whether she had made a decision regarding the full-time children's librarian position. (Compl. ¶ 17). Jackson responded that she could work 35 hours per week; however, she stated that because of her disability she required an accommodation of flexible work hours.*fn9 (Compl. ¶ 17).

In exchange for a flexible work schedule, Jackson proposed foregoing the full-time position's health insurance and vacation time. (Compl. ¶ 17). Additionally, Jackson stated that if she needed to hire a driver to fulfill her essential job duties, she would pay for the driver's services herself. (Compl. ¶ 18). Newell responded that the other full-time employees would not be required to drive Jackson; Jackson contends that she never recommended this scenario. (Compl. ¶ 18).

Following this exchange with Newell, Jackson wrote a letter to Mr. Dominic F. Pileggi, the President of the Crozer Library Board of Directors, reiterating her interest in the position and her request for accommodations. Jackson also copied the letter to Ms. S. Jean Wilson, a member of the Board of Directors. (Compl. ¶ 19). Defendants refused to allow Jackson to accept the full-time position with the requested accommodations. (Compl. ¶ 21). Jackson was terminated on July 15, 2003.*fn10 (Compl. ¶ 21).

Jackson filed this lawsuit on February 1, 2007. (Document #1). Her complaint asserts claims for employment discrimination and retaliatory discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. §12101 et seq., and the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act, 43 P.S. §951 et seq. She is seeking injunctive and declaratory relief, back pay, front pay, punitive damages, compensation for emotional distress and humiliation, and attorney's fees. Defendants filed a motion for summary judgment on July 15, 2008. (Document #56). Jackson responded on August 18, 2008 (Document #61).

II. STANDARD FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

Summary judgment shall be awarded "if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admission 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." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c). A dispute over a material fact is genuine "if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). A factual dispute is "material" only if it might affect the outcome of the suit under governing law.

Id.

A party seeking summary judgment always bears the initial responsibility of informing the court of the basis for its motion and identifying those portions of the record that it believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). Where the non-moving party bears the burden of proof on a particular issue at trial, the movant's initial Celotex burden can be met simply by "pointing out to the district court that there is an absence of evidence to support the non-moving party's case." Id. at 325. After the moving party has met its initial burden, "the adverse party's response, by affidavits or otherwise as provided in this rule, must set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(e). Summary judgment is appropriate if the non-moving party fails to rebut by making a factual showing "sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case, and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial." Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322. All inferences must be drawn and all doubts resolved in favor of the nonmoving party. United States v. Diebold, Inc., 369 U.S. 654, 655 (1962); Gordon v. Youmans, 358 F.2d 261, 262 (2d Cir. 1965); Gans v. Mundy, 762 F.2d 338, 341 (3d Cir. 1985); Liberty Lobby, 477 U.S. at 255. The court must decide (not whether the evidence unmistakably favors one side or the other but) whether a fair-minded jury could return a verdict for the plaintiff on the evidence presented. Liberty ...


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