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Keyes v. Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia

January 20, 2010

BARRY KEYES
v.
CATHOLIC CHARITIES OF THE ARCHDIOCESE OF PHILADELPHIA AND DON GUANELLA VILLAGE



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

MEMORANDUM

Presently before the Court is Defendants Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia and Don Guanella Village's Motion for Summary Judgment. (Doc. No. 15.) For the following reasons, the Motion will be granted.

I. BACKGROUND

From October 31, 2005, through September 21, 2007, Plaintiff Barry Keyes worked as a registered nurse for Defendant Don Guanella Village ("Defendant").*fn1 Don Guanella Village is a home for developmentally disabled teenagers with special needs. (Doc. No. 1 ¶ 16.) In September 2005, Plaintiff began to suspect that he was suffering from sleep apnea. (Keyes Dep. 17:16-19.) Plaintiff did not undergo testing to confirm this condition until after his employment with Defendant was terminated in 2007. (Doc. No. 19 Ex. D.)

Plaintiff was consistently late for work. (Keyes Dep. 22:19-23:1.) He was scheduled to arrive at work at 6:30 a.m. every day, but he frequently arrived fifteen or more minutes late. (Id.)

Plaintiff informed Carol Thomas, who was the Director of Nursing, that he was having difficulty sleeping. (Id. at 22:1-8.) Plaintiff also informed Thomas that he suspected that he had sleep apnea. (Id. at 20:20-21:8.) Thomas suggested that a surgical procedure could cure Plaintiff's sleep apnea. (Id.) Thomas did not discipline Plaintiff for his tardiness at that time. (Id. at 23:3-5.)

In January 2007, Thomas and Fran Hagarty, the chief administrator of Don Guanella Village, formally disciplined Plaintiff for his tardiness by giving him a verbal warning. (Id. at 66:1-21; Doc. No. 15, Ex. D.) During discussion of the verbal warning, Plaintiff told Thomas and Hagarty that he was having trouble sleeping and suspected that he had sleep apnea. (Keyes Dep. 67:6-17.) In the week following the verbal warning, Plaintiff was late for work three times. On January 11, he was 55 minutes late. On January 12, he was 24 minutes late. And on January 13, he was 36 minutes late. (Doc. No. 15, Ex. E.) As a result, Thomas and Hagarty again met with Plaintiff to discuss his tardiness issues. (Keyes Dep. 70:24-72:13.) This time, Plaintiff was given a written warning stating that he would be suspended without pay if he was late three more times in the next three months. (Doc. No. 15 Ex. E.) During the meeting, Plaintiff again informed Thomas and Hagarty that he believed he was suffering from sleep apnea. (Keyes Dep. 72:8-13.) Finally, on February 2, 2007, after Plaintiff was late three times in a four-day period at the end of January (Doc. No. 15 Ex. F), Thomas and Hagarty informed him that he would be suspended from work without pay for two days. (Id.; Keyes Dep. 73:9-74:9.) They further told him that he would be terminated if he was late for work three more times in the next three months. (Id.; Keyes Dep. 75:2-6.) Plaintiff again explained to Thomas and Hagarty that he believed he had sleep apnea. (Keyes Dep. 74:16-24.) After this suspension, Plaintiff took steps to remedy the lateness problem. He bought a second alarm clock and had his wife wake him up in the morning. As a result, Plaintiff was no longer late for work. (Id. at 75:7-24; 76:14-24; 77:1-16.)

Seven months later, in September of 2007, Plaintiff was involved in a verbal altercation with another nurse, Denise Dill, who he believed had abandoned her assignment. (Id. at 78:1-80:11.) After this dispute, Plaintiff called Thomas and told her that he was upset about the situation with Dill. Plaintiff threatened to resign if he had to work with Dill again. (Id. at 84:20-86:4; 94:20-95:3.) He also asked Thomas for permission to leave work early because his blood pressure was elevated and he was considering going to the emergency room. (Id. at 85:17-23.) Thomas granted Plaintiff's request. (Id. at 86:8-10.)

On September 17 or 18, Plaintiff faxed a letter to Thomas explaining his behavior. (Id. at 89:20-90:10.) In the letter, Plaintiff explained that he felt like he was "drowning and ha[d] felt that way for a while. No energy, bad feet, weight gain, always fatigued and behind in [his] work." (Doc. No. 19 Ex. E.) Plaintiff's letter stated that he had made several medical appointments, "most importantly the sleep study." (Id.) Plaintiff also apologized to Thomas for telling her that he would resign. (Id.) Thomas acknowledges receiving and reading the letter from Plaintiff but states that she had not "really listened to the letter, really understood the letter."*fn2 (Thomas Dep. 20:10-11; 25:1-9.)

To address the confrontation between Plaintiff and Dill, Thomas and Hagarty held a meeting with Plaintiff on September 20, 2007. (Keyes Dep. 104:1-8.) During the meeting, Thomas asked Plaintiff if he needed to take time off to deal with his sleep apnea issues. Plaintiff said no. (Id. at 109:6-10.) Plaintiff said that although he was not feeling well due to his sleep apnea, he would be able to give 90% effort, which he considered to be "more than sufficient." (Id. at 109:18-110:1.) Plaintiff testified that after mentioning his sleep apnea, he perceived that "the whole dynamic of the conversation changed" based on "their non-verbals." (Id. at 110:8-16.) He immediately felt that he was going to be terminated. (Id.) Hagarty testified that Plaintiff informed him and Thomas that his "heart was simply no longer in the job and that he was requesting six months' time for him to find another position." (Hagarty Dep. 28:24-29:4; Thomas Dep. 16:22-17:8.) Plaintiff agrees that he told Hagarty and Thomas that his heart and soul were not in the job. (Doc. No. 19 at 8; Keyes Dep. 116:5-24; 117:1-20.) The next day, Thomas told Hagarty that considering the dedication needed in dealing with these special needs teenagers, she could not "in good faith have [Plaintiff] come back knowing that his heart [wa]s not in it." (Thomas Dep. 18:5-13.) Hagarty contacted Plaintiff and informed him that in light of their discussion the previous day, he and Thomas did not feel that it was in Defendant's best interest for Plaintiff to continue his employment with Defendant. (Id. at 18:14-18.)

Soon after his employment was terminated, Plaintiff visited the Center for Sleep Medicine at Underwood Memorial Hospital, where a sleep study was done. The sleep study confirmed that Plaintiff suffered from "Severe Obstructive Sleep Apnea Syndrome." (Doc. No. 19 Ex. D at 2.) After diagnosing Plaintiff as having "sleep apnea," Plaintiff's doctor prescribed a CPAP machine for use when Plaintiff was sleeping. The CPAP machine completely cured Plaintiff's sleep apnea. (Keyes Dep. 30-36; 51-53.) Plaintiff never requested an accommodation from Defendant for his sleep apnea, and he is not pursuing a claim for failure to accommodate. (Doc. No. 19 at 27-28.)

II. LEGAL STANDARD

Summary judgment is appropriate "if the pleadings, the discovery and disclosure materials on file, and any affidavits show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c). A genuine issue of material fact exists only when "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). The party moving for summary judgment bears the initial burden of demonstrating that there are no facts supporting the nonmoving party's legal position. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-24 (1986). Once the moving party carries this initial burden, the nonmoving party must set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial. Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(e); see also Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986) (explaining that the nonmoving party "must do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts"). The nonmoving party cannot "rely merely upon bare assertions, conclusory allegations or suspicions" to support its claim. Fireman's Ins. Co. v. DeFresne, 676 F.2d 965, 969 (3d Cir. 1982). Rather, the party opposing summary judgment must go beyond the pleadings and present evidence through affidavits, depositions, or admissions on file to show that ...


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