United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
MALACHY E. MANNION UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
before the court, in this disability discrimination action
filed by plaintiff Theodore Molyneaux, is his motion for
partial summary judgment pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 56, (Doc.
18). Plaintiff seeks summary judgment with respect to his
claims that his former employer, defendant Monroe County,
failed to accommodate his disability caused from cancer in
violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act and the
Pennsylvania Human Relations Act, Counts One and Two of his
complaint, (Doc. 1). Based upon the court's review of the
motion and related materials, the plaintiff's motion for
partial summary judgment regarding his failure to accommodate
claims will be DENIED since there are
genuine issues of material fact.
plaintiff has brought the instant action under the Americans
with Disabilities Act, as amended (“ADAAA”), 42
U.S.C. §12131, et seq., as well as under the
Pennsylvania Human Relations Act, (“PHRA”), 43
P.S. §951, et seq. Plaintiff filed his
complaint on October 12, 2017. (Doc. 1). Specifically, in
Counts I and II, plaintiff raises his claims under the ADAAA
and the PHRA, respectively, alleging that Monroe County was
aware of his disability and perceived him as having a
disability but failed to accommodate it by denying his
request to be assigned to a position outside of the Monroe
County Correctional Facility (“MCCF”) where he
worked, and by denying his request for an extension of his
leave. He also alleges that Monroe County failed to engage in
good faith in the interactive process required by law.
Counts III and IV, plaintiff raises his claims that he was
unlawfully terminated from his employment with Monroe County
since his disability was allegedly a motivating factor in the
County's decision in violation of the ADAAA and the PHRA,
completing discovery, the plaintiff filed his motion for
partial summary judgment on April 1, 2019, with respect to
his failure to accommodate claims in Counts I and II under
the ADAAA and the PHRA, pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P.
(Doc. 18). Plaintiff's motion has been briefed and, a
statement of material facts and a response as well as
exhibits were filed.
court's jurisdiction over the plaintiff's federal
claims is based on 28 U.S.C. §1331. The court can
exercise supplemental jurisdiction over plaintiff's state
law claims under 28 U.S.C. §1337.
undisputed facts, as supported by the record, establish that,
from June of 2006 until November of 2015, the plaintiff
worked for Monroe County. He worked in the County maintenance
department through 2013, and then he worked as the Assistant
Supervisor of Maintenance at MCCF. As part of his work at
MCCF, plaintiff had direct contact with inmates at the
March of 2015, plaintiff was diagnosed with stage IV cancer
of the head and neck. Plaintiff's treatment for his
cancer began on May 18, 2015. Plaintiff completed
chemotherapy on June 29, 2015, and completed radiation
therapy on July 18, 2015. During this time, Monroe County was
aware that plaintiff had cancer and that he was in treatment
for his cancer.
cancer impaired his ability to work, breathe, swallow, and
eat. Plaintiff also was required to have a feeding tube for
an extended period of time.
County outsourced the handling of its FMLA Leave and its
Disability Leave to UPMC WorkPartners (“UPMC”).
was approved for 12 weeks FMLA leave by Monroe County from
May of 2015 through August 7, 2015.
under Monroe County's Handbook Policy for Disability
Leave, an eligible employee could receive a maximum of 6
months disability leave, which included the maximum 12 weeks
of FMLA leave. An employee may also be eligible to request an
extension of his FMLA leave for up to six months, if
“compelling reasons” exist. A request for an
extension had to be approved by the County Commissioners. The
decision of whether to grant an employee an extension was
solely within the discretion of the County Commissioners.
Information in support of the requested extension, such as a
note from the treating physician indicating when the employee
was eligible to return to work, had to be presented by the
employee to the Commissioners to assist in their
determination as to whether an extension of leave was
the County's Disability Leave Policy provided:
A Disability Leave of Absence is defined as a period of
absence during which an employee is unable to perform his/her
essential job duties due to the employee's non-work
related illness or injury, including pregnancy.
All regular full time and regular part time County employees
can request such a leave of absence. For employees who
qualify under FMLA, the first twelve (12) weeks of approved
disability will be considered FMLA leave. The maximum
duration that a disability leave of absence can be approved
for is six (6) months, which would include the maximum twelve
(12) weeks under FMLA. If compelling reasons require an
extension, it will be reviewed by the County Commissioners to
determine whether extension is warranted and whether it
should be granted. Any such extension is solely at the
discretion of the County Commissioners.
then requested, pursuant to the County's Policy which
allowed an employee a maximum of 6 months leave for non-work
related illnesses, additional FMLA leave, and his request was
approved. His FMLA leave was due to expire on November 7,
2015. At the time his additional leave of absence was going
to end, plaintiff had a feeding tube and was not able to
return to work at MCCF since the tube would make his exposure
to inmates dangerous, nor was he cleared to return to work by
his doctor, William S. Scialla, D.O., at this time.
(See Doc. 23-4, October 2, 2015 report from Dr.
Scialla stating that plaintiff's “leave of absence
from work is still undetermined.”; Doc. 23-5, November
2, 2015 report from LVPG Hematology Oncology/Laura J.
Sibbering was Monroe County's Assistant Director of Human
Resources from December of 2012 through March of 2016, and
she was responsible for all HR matters regarding the staff at
MCCF. Plaintiff testified that he advised Sibbering that his
feeding tube was scheduled to be removed in January of 2016,
and that he requested another extension of FMLA leave.
Plaintiff's request for the leave extension had to be
approved by the Monroe County Commissioners. Since Sibbering
was plaintiff's only point of contact regarding his
request for a leave extension, he stated that he made the
request for an extension through her.
undisputed that plaintiff indicated to Sibbering that he
wanted more time on leave. However, Sibbering testified that
plaintiff failed to follow the requisite procedure to request
a leave extension beyond the 6 months he had been allotted,
despite the fact that she told him the proper procedure
multiple times. Sibbering stated that she was continually in
touch with plaintiff during his leave of absence, and that
she informed him in writing and orally regarding the
information he needed to provide to her so that she could
present a request for an extension of his leave to the County
Commissioners. In particular, Sibbering told plaintiff that
he had to get her something from his doctor indicating when
he would be reevaluated and indicating a specific date as to
how long of an extension plaintiff required. Sibbering stated
that she did not receive the stated information from
plaintiff. Sibbering stated that since plaintiff did not
follow the proper procedure, she could not present a request
for a leave extension to the Commissioners.
testified that Sibbering did not forward his request for a
leave extension to the Commissioners to see if they approved
of it and that he tried to obtain the required documentation.
In particular, plaintiff testified that he tried to get
Sibbering the additional information regarding his leave
extension request and had his doctor ...