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Bruce Scott v. Allied Waste Service of Bucks-Mont

December 23, 2010


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


Plaintiff Bruce Scott brings claims under the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"), the Family Medical Leave Act ("FMLA"), and the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act ("PHRA"), stemming from his employment with Defendant Allied Waste Services of Bucks-Mont ("Allied Waste"). Currently before the Court is Defendant's motion for summary judgment. For the reasons set forth below, the motion is granted.


Bruce Scott was employed by Allied Waste as a laborer or "helper" beginning in May of 2003, assisting drivers collect waste from residential customers. (Pl.'s Opp'n to Def.'s Mot. for Summ J. Ex. 26A [Scott Dep.] 124.) Scott reported to Bob Fries, his route supervisor, and David Davidson, his operations supervisor. (Id. at 144-46.) Scott worked with multiple drivers, including Dan Zeek. (Id. at 148.)

Scott is a divorced father of three, the youngest of whom lives with him and suffers from severe hemophilia. (Id. at 82, 86.) Due to his hemophilia, Scott's son becomes bedridden if injured.

(Id. at 114.) His son requires someone to give him regular injections of medicine to control this condition, usually about three or four times per week. (Id. at 82, 99.) Scott always assists with the injections because his son does not feel comfortable doing it by himself. (Id. at 114.) Furthermore, his son's condition results in internal bleeding in his joints that becomes so painful that he cannot walk. (Id. at 94-95). His son's participation in certain activities, such as sports, is limited: he "has to watch what he does, as far as getting banged around, or anything that can cause a bleed." (Id. at 83.)

Scott requires periodic absences from work to attend to his son and administer his medication. Scott told his supervisors at Allied Waste about his son's condition and the potential need for time off around the time he started working there. (Id. at 366.) In 2007, Allied Waste granted Scott three days off so he could take a medical course certifying him to administer injections to his son. (Id. at 337.) In June of 2008, Scott requested two or three weeks' leave to be with his son, both because of his son's medical needs and because of Scott's recent divorce. (Id. at 339-41.) Allied Waste granted this request. (Id. at 344.) On November 23, 2008, Scott again requested leave to take care of his son. (Id. at 347.) This request was also granted, although the approval from Allied Waste's corporate office in Arizona was sent to the wrong address. Scott received the approval on the day he was terminated. (Id. 347-50.)

Scott has not been medically diagnosed with a disability, but has a "nervous, twitchy disposition"; he characterizes himself as "somewhat animated." (Pl.'s Mem. of Law in Opp'n to Mot. for Summ. J. 2; Scott Dep. 139.) Over the course of his employment, Scott's co-workers have made remarks concerning his "animated" disposition. For example, after Scott began working with Dan Zeek, Zeek "began calling [him] crazy all the time . . . ." (Scott Dep. 151.) Other workers sometimes called him "loco." (Id. at 152.) Defendant's human resources clerk, Kelly Grater, testified that other Allied Waste workers said Scott was a "wacko" who was "a danger to himself and others." (Pl.'s Mem. of Law in Opp'n to Mot. for Summ. J. Ex. 31 [Grater Dep.] 15.)

Scott has a history of disciplinary violations at Allied Waste. In 2006, he received six write-ups for unexcused and excessive absences and tardiness. (Def.'s Mot. for Summ. J. Exs. 2-7 [Corrective Action Reports dated Jan. 16, 2006; Feb. 23, 2006; Mar. 8, 2006; Apr. 28, 2006; July 10, 2006; Aug. 21, 2006].) In 2007, he received six similar write-ups. (Id. Exs. 8-13 [Corrective Action Reports dated Mar. 15, 2007; July 17, 2007; Nov. 14, 2007; Nov. 19, 2007 (two reports); Nov. 27, 2007].) He received three similar write-ups in 2008. (Id. Exs. 14-16 [Corrective Action Reports dated Apr. 30, 2008; May 6, 2008; and Sep. 17, 2008].) The last write-up Scott received warned him that additional attendance problems before the end of 2008 would result in termination. (Corrective Action Report dated Sep. 17, 2008.)

On June 6, 2008, Davidson heard from Zeek that Scott had allegedly made comments to Zeek about wanting to kill himself, such as that he was going to step out in front of an Allied Waste truck because he had nothing to live for, and that he was going to jump from a truck into a tree. (Defs.' Mot. for Summ. J. Ex. 24 [Aff. of Kevin Davidson ¶ 3].) Scott denies making any such comments. (Scott Dep. 212-14.) Nevertheless, Davidson ordered that Scott be medically cleared to work before he was allowed on an Allied Waste truck again. (Aff. of Kevin Davidson. ¶ 4.) On June 9, 2008, Scott was examined at the company doctor's office. (Scott Dep. 254.) During this examination, Scott gave a urine sample and was asked whether he had any suicidal thoughts, because "the company was concerned about [his] mental state." (Id. at 256, 260.) Scott told the doctor that he "felt fine" to return to work. (Id. at 263.) Scott was cleared to return, and he reported to work the day after the examination. (Id. at 267.) After the medical examination, Scott was no longer assigned to work with Zeek. (Id. at 274.) Instead, Scott was "bounced around" to different trash routes and sometimes assigned to lower paying "yard work." (Id. at 479-80; 511.) On December 22, 2008, Scott was not scheduled to work, but nevertheless arrived at the Allied Waste facility where he usually reported in order to drop off his uniforms for cleaning. (Scott Dep. 286.) Scott showed up around 5:00 a.m. and clocked in, but then realized he made a mistake and clocked out a few minutes later. (Id. at 294-96.) On that day, his son was sick, so Scott wanted to return home as soon as possible to attend to him. (Id. at 204.) Around the time Scott was punching in, Scott ran into fellow employee Keith Hibbard. (Id. at 297.) Scott, who does not drive, asked Hibbard if he could give him a ride home. (Id.) Hibbard responded that he might be awhile, and so Scott "figured [he was] going to head home right then and there" on his bicycle. (Id. at 298.) While Scott was leaving, Bob Fries passed by and asked if Scott had ever been scheduled for a particular route. (Id. at 297.) Scott responded that he remembered the route, but that he had not worked that route for over a year. (Id.) Shortly thereafter, Fries walked away and Scott left for home. (Id. at 305.)

Allied Waste offers a different version of the events of December 22. According to Fries, after asking Scott about his old route, Fries asked Scott to wait before going home, because he might need Scott to show a driver the route. (Def.'s Mot. for Summ. J. Ex. 21 [Memo from Bob Fries regarding Bruce Scott termination].) After the driver told Fries that Scott would indeed be of help on the route, Fries went to the spot Scott was waiting, but Scott was nowhere to be found. (Id.) Fries and Hibbard determined that Scott had walked out on the job. (Id.) Scott denies that Fries ever asked him to stay at the facility in case they needed him to work. (Scott Dep. 304-06.)

The next day, on December 23, Scott reported to work around 5:00 a.m. (Scott Dep. 321.)

Shortly thereafter, Fries approached Scott and said that he needed to speak with him. (Id.) Scott then met with Fries, Hibbard, Bob Pletcher, a site supervisor, and General Manager Brent Swartz. (Id.) Swartz then told Scott that his actions on December 22 constituted job abandonment and that Scott would be terminated. (Scott Dep. 321, 331) Allied Waste maintains that in addition to the December 22 incident, the decision to terminate Scott was informed by his lengthy disciplinary record. (Def.'s Statement of Undisputed Facts in Supp. of Mot. for Summ. J. ΒΆΒΆ 25-26.) However, ...

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