United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania
Katrina Hartley brings this suit against Defendant the Boeing
Company, alleging that in violation of the Americans with
Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 12101 et.
seq. (“ADA”) and the Pennsylvania Human
Relations Act, 43 Pa. C.S.A. §§ 951, et
seq. (“PHRA”), Defendant impermissibly
revoked her offer of employment based on the results of a
medical examination. Defendant now moves for summary
judgment. For the reasons that follow, Defendant's motion
shall be denied.
March 2018, Plaintiff applied for a position as a
firefighter/emergency medical technician with Defendant. On
April 17, 2018, Defendant offered Plaintiff the job,
contingent on her meeting certain pre-employment
requirements, including passing a drug screening, background
check, and medical screening.
process of completing her pre-employment requirements,
Plaintiff disclosed to Defendant that she had been separated
from the military on medical grounds and diagnosed with
herniated discs. She was then contacted by a nurse affiliated
with Defendant regarding the pre-employment health screening
to ensure that she was medically able to perform the job. All
candidates who receive an offer to become a Boeing
Firefighter must first pass this medical screening. As part
of that process, Plaintiff provided a form from her primary
care doctor, Dr. Ben Kochuveli, a general physician for the
United States Department of Veteran Affairs. Kochuveli filled
out the form on Plaintiff's behalf and indicated there
were no restrictions on Plaintiff's work abilities.
also gave Defendant authorization to access her medical
records for review. Hundreds of pages of medical reports were
turned over, including extensive documentation from
Plaintiff's chiropractic visits and neurodiagnostic
visits, both for her back. Those documents show Plaintiff
visited the chiropractor for pain management multiple times
per week, including around the time when Plaintiff was
applying for the job with Boeing. At times, Plaintiff
“complain[ed] of continuous, sharp, shooting, and
tightness discomfort in lower back, ” and
“describe[d] that the discomfort increases with
movement.” Plaintiff also received an epidural shot for
pain management on May 1, 2018.
4, 2018, Plaintiff attended an examination performed by
Herman Eason, a physician's assistant contracted by
Boeing to provide onsite care. According to Eason, the
results of the examination were “unremarkable.”
In addition to his examination with Plaintiff, Eason also
reviewed all of Plaintiff's disclosed medical records.
Eason testified that he was concerned based on
Plaintiff's medical records showing ongoing chiropractic
and medical treatment.
25, 2018, Defendant informed Plaintiff that she was
“not medically qualified” for the position and
rescinded her offer. Defendant also sent Plaintiff a letter
dated June 5, 2018, further explaining that it had
“performed a medical review of your individual
circumstances as they relate to your contingent offer of
employment and . . . determined that we cannot place you in
this particular position, ” and
“encourage[d]” her to explore other employment
opportunities with the company.
obtained a right to sue letter and now brings claims for
disability discrimination pursuant to the ADA and PHRA.
judgment is appropriate “if 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 fact is material if it might impact the
outcome of the case. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby,
Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). A factual dispute is
“genuine” only where “the evidence is such
that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the
nonmoving party.” Id. The court must view the
facts in the light most favorable to the non-moving party,
drawing all reasonable inferences in that party's favor.
Burton v. Teleflex Inc., 707 F.3d 417, 425 (3d Cir.
2013). “However, to prevail on a motion for summary
judgment, the non-moving party must present more than a mere
scintilla of evidence; there must be evidence on which the
jury could reasonably find for the non-movant.”
Id. (internal punctuation omitted).
asserts that Defendant violated the ADA and the PHRA by
pulling her offer after conducting a medical exam. The ADA
prohibits employers from “discriminat[ing] against a
qualified individual with a disability because of the
disability of such individual in regard to job application
procedures [and] hiring. . . .” 42 U.S.C. §
12112(a) (2008). The PHRA provides, similarly, that it is
“an unlawful discriminatory practice … [f]or any
employer because of the … non-job related handicap or
disability . . . of any individual or independent contractor,
to refuse to hire or employ or contract with [such
individual].” 43 Pa. C.S.A. § 955. The ADA and
PHRA are “to be interpreted consistently, and . . .
have the same standard for determination of liability.”
Macfarlan v. Ivy Hill SNF, LLC, 675 F.3d 266, 274
(3d Cir. 2012).
Plaintiff's claim of discrimination
Plaintiff has no direct evidence of discrimination, she must
use the familiar “burden shifting” framework to
establish her claim. See McDonnell Douglas v. Green,
411 U.S. 792, 804 (1973). To make out a prima facie case of
discrimination under the ADA, Plaintiff must present evidence
that she: (1) was disabled within the meaning of the ADA; (2)
was otherwise qualified to perform the essential functions of
the job; and, (3) suffered an adverse employment decision as
a result of discrimination. See Gaul v. Lucent Tech.,
Inc., 134 F.3d 576, 580 (3d Cir. 1998). If Plaintiff
makes that showing, the burden shifts to the Defendant to
articulate a “legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason for
the employee's rejection.” McDonnell
Douglas, 411 U.S. at 802. If Defendant does so, the
plaintiff “must be given the opportunity to prove by a
preponderance of the evidence that the legitimate reasons
proffered by defendant were not its true reasons, but rather,
a pretext for discrimination.” Josey v. John R.
Hollingsworth Corp., 996 F.3d 632, 637-38 (3d Cir.1993).
prima facie case
first issue thus is whether Plaintiff has sufficiently shown
she was disabled as defined by the ...