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Peter P. Waskiewicz v. Ppl Services

January 19, 2012

PETER P. WASKIEWICZ,
PLAINTIFF,
v.
PPL SERVICES, INC., DEFENDANT.



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

MEMORANDUM

Peter Waskiewicz, Plaintiff, alleges that PPL Services, Inc. ("PPL"), Defendant, violated the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"), 42 U.S.C. §§ 12101 et seq., and the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act ("PHRA"), 43 P.S. §§ 951 et seq. PPL now seeks summary judgment.*fn1 For the reasons set forth below, I will grant the motion for summary judgment.

I. BACKGROUND*fn2

Waskiewicz was hired by PPL in 1980 as a computer system hardware analyst at the nuclear power plant in Berwick, Pennsylvania. (Doc. No. 26, ¶ 1.) During the time Waskiewicz worked as an analyst at the Berwick Plant, PPL provided him opportunities to work at home for personal or medical reasons. (Id. at ¶ 2.) Waskiewicz worked at the Berwick Plant for approximately twenty years before transferring to work as a technologist in the IT department in the main office of PPL located in Allentown, Pennsylvania. (Id. at ¶¶ 5, 7.)

Waskiewicz was diagnosed with a herniated disc at T7 and a herniated disc above C5 in 2006. (Id. at ¶ 24.) From the time of his transfer to Allentown until 2006, Waskiewicz repeatedly requested permission to work from home with regard to issues of pain in his back. (Id. at ¶ 26.) Each time Waskiewicz requested medical leave, PPL granted his request. (Id. at ¶¶ 29, 31.) On September 7, 2006, Waskiewicz underwent fusion surgery at Pennsylvania Hospital in Philadelphia. (Id. at ¶ 32.) PPL approved Waskiewicz's time off for the surgery and he was provided an additional week after the surgery to recuperate. (Id. at ¶ 33.) He was not subject to any adverse reactions from PPL for requesting the time off for the fusion surgery. (Id. at ¶ 34.)

PPL provided Waskiewicz with the opportunity to work from home while he recuperated. (Id. at ¶ 35.) Waskiewicz was permitted to return to work on a part-time basis on November 27, 2006, subject to several restrictions by his doctor. (Id. at ¶ 39.) He was subject to several restrictions when he returned to work and was only allowed to stand and sit several hours per day. (Id. at ¶ 40.) He was not allowed to squat, climb, or kneel, and was only allowed to drive based on his current pain levels. (Id.) To accommodate Waskiewicz, PPL allowed him to work at home on a part-time basis. (Id. at ¶ 41.)

PPL had a policy, of which Waskiewicz was aware, that stated, in pertinent part, that "telecommuting should encompass no more than 60% of an employee's normal work week" and that a telecommuting employee "must adjust [his] telecommuting schedule as required to attend company meetings, on-site training and work assignments at other company locations." (Id. at ¶ 42.) Despite this policy, PPL permitted Waskiewicz to work at home, part-time, during the entire work week for a period of time prior to November 27, 2006. (Id. at ¶ 43.) Waskiewicz's initial restrictions were from November 2006 to January 2007 but were subsequently extended to April 1, 2007. (Id. at ¶ 45.) PPL continued to accommodate Waskiewicz's restrictions during this time and he did not receive any negative reaction or consequences from PPL for working from home during this time under these restrictions. (Id. at ¶ 46.)

Waskiewicz's physician subsequently extended his restrictions from April 1, 2007 to July 1, 2007. (Id. at ¶ 47.) These restrictions included prohibition of driving in excess of thirty minutes. (Id.) In July of 2007, Waskiewicz underwent lumbar laminectomy in an effort to alleviate his symptoms of pain. (Id. at ¶ 48.) As a result of that procedure, Waskiewicz provided PPL with new restrictions which allowed him to stand, sit, or walk one hour per day and perform repetitive motions two hours per day. (Id. at ¶ 49.) Furthermore, Waskiewicz was only permitted to travel thirty miles or less. (Id.) Waskiewicz resides in Bear Creek, Luzerne County, Pennsylvania and lives over 62 miles away from PPL's headquarters in Allentown. (Id. at ¶ 50.) It takes approximately one hour and nine minutes to drive from Waskiewicz's residence to PPL's headquarters in Allentown. (Id.)

In August 2007, Waskiewicz received a phone call from two PPL employees, Richard Cogan and Bruce Cantor, in which Cogan insisted that Waskiewicz immediately stop working from home for PPL. (Doc. No. 30, ¶ 52.) In December 2007, Waskiewicz provided PPL with another return to work form completed by his physician. (Doc. No. 26, ¶ 53.) Pursuant to the December 2007 form, Waskiewicz was permitted to stand, sit and walk several hours a day, however, he was still restricted in his ability to drive over thirty miles. (Id.) The foregoing restrictions were extended for the subsequent one-year period, or until December of 2008. (Id.)

Subsequent to providing PPL with his new restrictions, Waskiewicz requested that he be permitted to work from home on a permanent basis and made this request to the department head, Richard Cogan. (Id. at ¶ 54.) This request was made in early January, 2008. (Id.) According to Waskiewicz, Cogan informed him that he was not permitted to work from home on a permanent basis because he was required to be in the Allentown location to perform his job duties. (Id. at ¶ 55.) On January 18, 2008, Cogan emailed Waskiewicz and informed him that based upon Waskiewicz's inability to drive over thirty miles, he could not report to the Allentown Location, and conversely, could not perform the essential functions of his position. (Id. at ¶ 56.) Waskiewicz knew as of January 18, 2008, that PPL had denied him his requested accommodation. (Doc. No. 27-4, Exh. A*fn3 , Part 3, 168-69, 173.)

On January 18, 2008, Waskiewicz was informed that, based upon his inability to perform his duties at the Allentown Location, he was to remain off work on Short Term Disability. (Doc. No. 26, ¶ 70.) Waskiewicz was also informed that his effective date for Long-Term Disability Benefits would be February 7, 2008. (Id. at ¶ 71.) On October 31, 2008, Waskiewicz was informed by letter that his application for long-term disability benefits was denied by CIGNA, PPL's insurance carrier. (Id. at ¶ 72.) Plaintiff's appeal for long-term disability benefits was denied on April 24, 2009. (Id. at ¶ 74.) On May 1, 2009, Waskiewicz was informed that if PPL did not receive a request to return to work within thirty days, his employment would be terminated effective June 1, 2009. (Id. at ¶ 75) On or about May 18, 2009, as Plaintiff was unable to return to work, he submitted a retirement request form to PPL. (Id. at ¶ 76.) Plaintiff's request to retire was confirmed by PPL on May 20, 2009. (Id. at ¶ 77.)

Waskiewicz filed a Charge of Discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on August 6, 2009. (Id. at ¶ 82.) The Charge was executed by Waskiewicz on or about July 30, 2009. (Id. at ¶ 83.)

II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

Summary judgment is appropriate when "the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." FED. R. CIV. P. 56(a). A factual dispute is "material" only if it might affect the outcome of the case. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). For an issue to be "genuine," a ...


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