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Ramdeen v. Trihop 6Th Street, LLC

United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania

March 9, 2017




         I. Introduction

         In this case, Ricky Ramdeen has sued Trihop 69th Street LLC d/b/a IHOP (“Trihop”) under the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”), 42 U.S.C. §§ 1201, et seq., and the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act (“PHRA”), 43 P.S. §§ 951 et seq. He alleges that Trihop failed to accommodate his disability; discriminated against him because of his disability (or perceived disability); and terminated him in retaliation for his requests for accommodations. Trihop has now moved for summary judgment on all counts. For the reasons set forth below, its motion will be denied.

         II. Factual and Procedural Background

         According to Ramdeen, he is disabled by a severe head injury he suffered in 2010, which continues to cause an impairment in the major life activities of processing information quickly and working. Second Amended Complaint at ¶12. He receives Social Security disability payments. Ramdeen Deposition, attached to Response as Exhibit A, at 9.

         In August, 2015, he was hired by Trihop and asked to work as a restaurant host. Id. at ¶15. Ramdeen alleges that on the day he was hired, he explained to the interviewing manager, Rachid Anjaou, that he needed to limit his hours to 20 per week so that he did not endanger his eligibility for Social Security. Id. at 117. Mr. Anajou agreed to that. Id. He began training on August 31, 2015, and received no negative comments on his work on that day. Id. at 167. However, on his second day of training, a different manager, Jazmin Rowe, called him to her office and asked him to work additional hours. Id. at 125.

         According to Ramdeen, he told Rowe that he received disability benefits and could not work more than 20 hours. Id. at 137-8. He testified at his deposition: “She was like, Oh, my God. I didn't know. I would have approached you much more differently.” Id. at 138.

         Ramdeen maintains that, after his conversation with Rowe, she came out of her office and told him he would have to improve his performance. Id. at 138. He then went into Rowe's office for a second time, and said: “Jasmine [sic] ... due to my disability, I may take a little bit longer for things to register.” Id.

         Ed Scannapieco, Trihop's Director of Operations, testified at his deposition that Ms. Rowe told him that, “in their initial conversation Ricky explained to Jazmine that he had some limitations .. that he may be a little slow in grasping it all.” Scannapieco Deposition, attached to Response at Exhibit I, at 64-5. Ms. Rowe, however, testified at her deposition that Ramdeen never told her that he had a disability or that it took him longer to process information. Deposition of Jazmin Rowe, attached to Motion for Summary Judgment as Exhibit C at 47-8.

         Ramdeen alleges that, as he was traveling home from his second day of training, he received a phone call from Jeannette Chapman, of Trihop, terminating his employment. Ramdeen Deposition at 127. He filed charges with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on September 8, 2015. Id. at 154-5. He then filed this case after receiving a Right to Sue letter from that agency. Second Amended Complaint at ¶5.

         In its Motion for Summary Judgment, Trihop argues that Ramdeen has not shown that he was disabled, as defined in the ADA, or that Trihop regarded him as disabled. Trihop also argues that, even if Ramdeen is found to have shown disability, his claim for failure to accommodate must be dismissed because he has not shown that he requested accommodation. Further, Trihop argues that Ramdeen has not shown a prima facie case of retaliation, and that he has not shown a basis for seeking punitive damages.

         III. Legal Standards

         A. Summary Judgment Standard

         Summary judgment is warranted where the pleadings and discovery, as well as any affidavits, 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. Pr. 56. The moving party has the burden of demonstrating the absence of any genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). In response, the non-moving party must adduce more than a mere scintilla of evidence in its favor, and cannot simply reassert factually unsupported allegations contained in its pleadings. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 249 (1986); Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, supra at 325; Williams v. Borough of West Chester, 891 F.2d 458, 460 (3d Cir. 1989).

         In deciding a motion for summary judgment, the court must determine the relevant set of facts and draw all inferences in favor of the nonmoving party to the extent supportable by the record. Scott v. Harris, 550 U.S. 372 (2007). Nevertheless, Rule 56 Amandates the entry of summary judgment ... against a party who fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that ...

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