United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania
the Court is Defendant Greenwood Gaming and Entertainment,
Inc.'s Motion for Summary Judgement (ECF Nos. 15, 18) and
Plaintiff Michael Napoli's Response in Opposition (ECF
No. 16). Defendant argues that Plaintiff's request for an
indefinite leave of absence did not constitute a reasonable
accommodation defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act
(“ADA”). Thus, Defendant's denial of
Plaintiff's request and subsequent termination of
employment, was not a violation of the ADA nor the
Pennsylvania Human Relations Act (“PHRA”). For
the foregoing reasons, Defendant's Motion is DENIED.
STATEMENT OF FACTS
Michael Napoli worked as a part-time tables dealer for
Defendant Greenwood Gaming and Entertainment, Inc., starting
August 22, 2016. Pl.'s Resp. In Opp'n 1, ECF No. 16.
In January 2017, Plaintiff was diagnosed with diastolic heart
failure and underwent a left and right heart catheterization
procedure. Pl.'s Resp. In Opp'n Mem. 2. The procedure
was unsuccessful; within six hours of surgery Plaintiff lost
feeling in his right arm. Plaintiff was subsequently
diagnosed with Deep Vein Thrombosis. Pl.'s Resp. In
Opp'n Mem. 2.
a January 25, 2017 appointment, Plaintiff alleges that his
vascular doctor informed him that he needed seven (7) to
eight (8) weeks off work. Pl.'s Resp. In Opp'n Mem.
2. Plaintiff further alleges that the doctor provided a
doctor's note attesting to his need for time off; the
doctor would reassess Plaintiff's condition at a
follow-up appointment. Pl.'s Resp. In Opp'n Mem. 2.
After his surgery, Plaintiff returned to work and attempted
to meet with human resources. Pl.'s Resp. In Opp'n
Mem. 2. An HR employee, Rebecca Carr, directed Plaintiff to
his supervisor, Johanna Belanger. Pl.'s Resp. In
Opp'n Mem. 2. When Plaintiff approached Belanger's
office, she stated “I don't want to see it, ”
referring to Plaintiff's doctor's note. Pl.'s
Resp. In Opp'n Mem. 2. Plaintiff explained to Belanger
that he needed time off work. Pl.'s Resp. In Opp'n
Mem. 2. Belanger initially stated that she could not
accommodate Plaintiff, but subsequently stated that she
could. Pl.'s Resp. In Opp'n Mem. 2. Later that day,
Plaintiff called Belanger to discuss his request. Pl.'s
Resp. In Opp'n Mem. 2. Plaintiff did not speak to
Belanger, but another employee told Plaintiff that his
request could not be accommodated, and he needed to resign.
Pl.'s Resp. In Opp'n Mem. 2.
January 30, 2017, Plaintiff followed up, via email, with Carr
to check the status of his leave request. Pl.'s Resp. In
Opp'n Mem. 4. Carr forwarded the email to Plaintiff's
supervisor, director of human resources, Susan Eckert.
Pl.'s Resp. In Opp'n Mem. 4. Carr stated that
Plaintiff did not qualify for any type of leave because he
had worked for Defendant for less than one
year. Defs.' Summ. J. Mem. 3, ECF No. 15.
Carr acknowledged that Belanger allowed exceptions for
employees in Plaintiff's situation when their requests
did not exceed four weeks. Pl.'s Resp. In Opp'n Mem.
4. On February 8, 2017, Belanger emailed Eckert and Carr
asking if Defendant could proceed with Plaintiff's
termination because he needed more than six weeks off and did
not qualify for FMLA leave. Pl.'s Resp. In Opp'n Mem.
5. Eckert explained that Plaintiff needed to resign and
should inform Defendant when he was ready to return.
Pl.'s Resp. In Opp'n Mem. 5. Belanger stated that she
informed Plaintiff multiple times that he needed to resign,
but he refused. Pl.'s Resp. In Opp'n Mem. 5.
February 8, 2017 email to Plaintiff, Carr informed Plaintiff
that he did not qualify for any type of leave and would be
made inactive in Defendant's system. Pl.'s Resp. In
Opp'n Mem. 7. Inactive status amounts to termination.
Pl.'s Resp. In Opp'n Mem. 7. Plaintiff did not
reapply to work for Defendant because “he believed that
Defendant did not value him as a person.” Pl.'s
Resp. In Opp'n Mem. 7.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56, a party may motion for
summary judgment if “there is no dispute as to any
material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment
and a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). A dispute
over a material fact is genuine if “the evidence is
such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the
nonmoving party.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby,
Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). To survive summary
judgment, the opposing party “may not rest upon the
mere allegations or denials of his pleading, but . . . must
set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine
issue for trial.” Id. (citing First
National Bank of Arizona v. Cities Service Co., 391 U.S.
presents two claims: (1) discrimination and retaliation in
violation of the ADA, and (2) discrimination and retaliation
in violation of the PHRA. ADA and PHRA claims are analyzed
under the same standard-Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of
1964-as such, a joint analysis will follow. See Krouse v.
American Sterilizer Co., 126 F.3d 494, 500 (3d Cir.
1997) (Analyzing ADA claims under the same analysis for
claims arising under Title VII); Dici v.
Pennsylvania, 91 F.3d 542, 552 (3d Cir. 1996)
(“Generally, the PHRA is applied in accordance with
Title VII of the Civil Rights Acts of 1964.”).
ADA and PHRA Discrimination Claims
prohibits an employer from discriminating against an
individual with a disability regarding hiring, termination
and other terms, conditions, and privileges of employment. 42
U.S.C. § 12112(a). To establish a prima facie ADA
discrimination claim, an employee must demonstrate that (1)
he is a disabled within the meaning of the ADA; (2) he is
otherwise qualified to perform the essential functions of the
job; (3) and he suffered an adverse employment action.
Turner v. Hershey Chocolate USA, 440 F.3d 604, 611
(3d Cir. 2006). If the plaintiff proves these elements, the
burden shifts to the defendant to show a legitimate,
nondiscriminatory reason for its decision to terminate
plaintiff. Id. at 614. If the defendant meets this
burden, the burden again shifts to the plaintiff to show that
defendant's proffered reasons are not true and were a
pretext for discrimination. McDonnell Douglas Corp. v.
Green, 411 U.S. 792, 802-805 (1973). This is known as
the McDonnell Douglas burden shifting framework.
Id. The Parties agree that Plaintiff is disabled and
that he suffered an adverse employment action. See
Def.'s Summ. J. Mem, ECF No. 15; Pl.'s Resp. In
Opp'n Mem. Accordingly, the Court's analysis will
solely cover element two, whether Plaintiff was otherwise
qualified to perform the essential functions of his job.
Plaintiff is a qualified individual as ...