United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania
DARNELL JONES, II J.
Cleveland Williams (“Plaintiff”) commenced this
action against Defendant Childfirst Services, Inc.
(“Defendant”) for his alleged discriminatory
termination due to a qualified disability. Plaintiff has
alleged violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act, 42
U.S.C. § 12101 et seq. (“ADA”), the
Pennsylvania Human Relations Act, 43 Pa.C.S. § 951
et seq. (“PHRA”), the Philadelphia Fair
Practices Ordinance, Phila. Code § 9-1100 et
seq. (“PFPO”), and a common law wrongful
discharge claim. Defendant timely moved for summary judgment
on all of Plaintiff's claims.
reasons that follow, the Court shall grant Defendant's
Motion for Summary Judgment with respect to the ADA claim for
failing to state a prima facie case of disability
discrimination under the act. Consequently, the Court will
not reach the merits of Defendant's motion with respect
to Plaintiff's remaining claims, which have several
issues of disputed facts, the materiality of which this Court
will leave to the state court to address on remand.
UNDISPUTED MATERIAL FACTS
ruling herein solely concerns Plaintiff's ADA claim, the
Court will only recite the undisputed facts relevant to this
claim, viewed in the light most favorable to Plaintiff as the
operates small group residences in Pennsylvania for at-risk
teenage minors, some of whom have emotional and behavioral
difficulties. Def. SUF at ¶¶ 1, 4 (ECF No. 27-2);
Pl. SUF at ¶¶ 1, 4 (ECF No. 28-1). Plaintiff was
hired by Defendant as a childcare worker or
“houseparent” in August 2016. Def. SUF at ¶
3; Pl. SUF at ¶ 3. His job duties included taking the
six to eight children on his floor to school, teaching them
certain life skills such as etiquette and cooking, and taking
them to various activities and appointments. Def. SUF at
¶ 7; Pl. SUF at ¶ 7. Due to the emotional and
behavioral supports the children needed, after hiring him,
Defendant gave Plaintiff a description listing the physical
capabilities that would be needed for the job, including:
“considerable upper body strength as well as full range
of motion in the arms[, ] hands, legs and feet” and
an ability to “use hands and have upper body strength
to hold aggressive children.” Def. SUF at ¶¶
8-9; Pl. SUF at ¶¶ 8-9. In actuality, Plaintiff
also had to be able to defend himself against knives being
pulled on him, circumvent being pushed into walls, and defend
himself against children who were three times his
height. Def. SUF at ¶ 11; Pl. SUF at ¶
December 1, 2016 a physical altercation broke out between
residents under Plaintiff's care. Def. SUF at ¶ 44;
Pl. SUF at ¶ 44. Plaintiff and two of his colleagues
attempted to defuse the situation, and in doing so,
Plaintiff's lower back and shoulder were injured. Def.
SUF at ¶ 45; Pl. SUF at ¶ 45. Afterwards, Plaintiff
drafted and sent an incident report to Hosea Crooms, Jr.,
Plaintiff's supervisor, who was also present during the
incident, documenting his injuries. Def. SUF at ¶¶
13, 46; Pl. SUF at ¶¶ 13, 46. Thereafter, despite
his injuries, Plaintiff returned to work to prevent a
disruption in coverage and he continued working his normal
schedule until December 11, 2016. Def. SUF at ¶¶
47, 48, 79; Pl. SUF at ¶¶ 47, 48, 79.
December 11th Plaintiff sought treatment for a
case of bronchitis he developed after being in cold
conditions at work for an extended period. Def. SUF at ¶
56; Pl. SUF at ¶ 56. While there, he also sought
treatment for his back and shoulder pain but was denied care
due to an issue with his worker's compensation coverage.
Def. SUF at ¶ 57; Pl. SUF at ¶ 57. Apparently, Mr.
Crooms never informed the contact person for employee
injuries and worker compensation claims, Elizabeth Williams,
the Senior Assistant to Defendant's President and CEO,
Dr. Nathaniel Williams, of Plaintiff's injuries or
forwarded Plaintiff's incident report to her. Def. SUF at
¶¶ 41, 46; Pl. SUF at ¶¶ 41, 46.
Consequently, a claim for those injuries was not made and the
individual treating Plaintiff's bronchitis refused to
treat his back and shoulder pain. Def. SUF at ¶ 57; Pl.
SUF at ¶ 57. Plaintiff left that appointment with a
medical report regarding his bronchitis that he gave to Ms.
Williams the next day when he asked for time off to
recuperate from his bronchitis. Def. SUF at ¶ 58; Pl.
SUF at 58. Plaintiff's request was granted, and his leave
extended three weeks until he recovered from his bronchitis.
Def. SUF at ¶¶ 58, 60; Pl. SUF at ¶¶ 58,
December 13, 2016, Plaintiff asked Ms. Williams, for a list
of approved worker's compensation doctors because his
“back was still hurting from the fight that broke
out.” Def. SUF at ¶ 61; Pl. SUF at ¶ 61. That
was the first time he had informed her personally of the
injuries he obtained during the December 1st
altercation. Def. SUF at ¶ 62; Pl. SUF at ¶ 62.
Shortly after asking Ms. Williams for a referral to a
worker's compensation physician Plaintiff was terminated.
The cause for that termination is disputed.
his termination, Plaintiff made a worker's compensation
claim. Def. SUF at ¶ 61; Pl. SUF at ¶ 61. On April
26, 2017 he was deposed in connection with that claim and
testified to the following:
A. No, I don't feel I could work as a house parent, no.
Q. Why do you feel incapable of performing your duties as a
A. As far as like the heavy lifting, going up the third
flight, going up the stairwells, and dealing with the
physical restraints of the kids, I'm ...