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Martin v. Azz/Cgit Inc.

United States District Court, D. Massachusetts

July 30, 2015

JO-ANNE ST. MARTIN, Plaintiff,
v.
AZZ/CGIT INCORPORATED, Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OF DECISION AND ORDER

TIMOTHY S. HILLMAN, District Judge.

Background

Jo-Anne St. Martin ("St. Martin" or "Plaintiff"), proceeding pro se, has filed a Complaint against AZZ/CGIT Incorporated ("AZZ" or "Defendant") alleging claims for violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"), 42 U.S.C. § 12112. This Memorandum and Order of Decision addresses the Motion of Defendant AZZ/CGIT, Inc. to Dismiss Plaintiff's Complaint (Docket no. 7). For the reasons set forth below, that motion is granted.

Discussion

Standard of Review

AZZ has filed a motion pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) seeking dismissal of St. Martin's claims for violation of the ADA on the grounds that: (1) she failed to exhaust her administrative remedies in a timely manner, and/or (2) her allegations fail to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. On a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, the Court "must assume the truth of all well-plead[ed] facts and give plaintiff the benefit of all reasonable inferences therefrom." Ruiz v. Bally Total Fitness Holding Corp., 496 F.3d 1, 5 (1st Cir. 2007) (citing Rogan v. Menino, 175 F.3d 75, 77 (1st Cir. 1999)). To survive a motion to dismiss, the plaintiff must state a claim that is plausible on its face. Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570, 127 S.Ct. 1955 (2007). That is, "[f]actual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level, ... on the assumption that all the allegations in the complaint are true (even if doubtful in fact)." Id. at 555 (internal citations omitted). "The plausibility standard is not akin to a probability requirement, ' but it asks for more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678, 129 S.Ct. 1937 (2009) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). Dismissal is appropriate if plaintiff's well-pleaded facts do not "possess enough heft to show that plaintiff is entitled to relief." Ruiz Rivera v. Pfizer Pharm., LLC, 521 F.3d 76, 84 (1st Cir. 2008) (internal quotations and original alterations omitted). "The relevant inquiry focuses on the reasonableness of the inference of liability that the plaintiff is asking the court to draw from the facts alleged in the complaint." Ocasio-Hernàndez v. Fortuño-Burset, 640 F.3d 1, 13 (1st Cir. 2011).

Facts

Plaintiff Files Her Claim with the EEOC

St. Martin was employed by AZZ as a "detail drafter." See Complaint (Docket No. 1), Ex. 1, at p. 1. In early 2013, St. Martin was involved in a motor vehicle accident and sustained a serious concussion. Id., Ex. 1, at p. 3. As a result, on February 14, 2013, pursuant to the Family and Medical Leave Act ("FMLA"), 29 U.S.C. §§2601 et seq. AZZ granted St. Martin a leave of absence. See Id., at Ex. 4. Under the FMLA, St. Martin was entitled to twelve weeks of leave. Id. St. Martin exhausted her FMLA leave on May 8, 2013. Id. Thereafter, in accordance with AZZ's policy, she was offered and approved for an additional three months of unpaid leave beginning on May 9, 2013. Id.

On August 9, 2013, AZZ sent St. Martin a letter by certified mail advising her that she had exhausted all of her leave time. See Id., at Ex. 8. AZZ also asked that St. Martin have her health care provider complete a "Healthcare Provider Inquiry" in order that AZZ "may understand the limitations your impairment poses, if any" upon her return to work. Id. St. Martin's physician, Patrick McSweeney, M.D., returned the completed form to AZZ on or about August 23, 2013. See Id., at Ex. 9. Thereafter, AZZ made the decision to terminate St. Martin's employment. On August 26, 2013, AZZ sent St. Martin a letter by certified mail advising her that her employment had been terminated effective that day because of her inability to return to work. St. Martin received the letter on September 18, 2013. See Id., at Ex. 13.

On July 16, 2014, St. Martin completed and filed an Intake Questionnaire with the Equal Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") alleging discrimination based on a disability. See Id., ¶ 4 and Ex. 1. On July 29, 2014, the EEOC provided St. Martin with a letter stating that based on the information she provided her claim was subject to the ADA. Id., ¶ 5 and Ex. 2, at p. 1. The EEOC requested that St. Martin complete and return EEOC Form 5, Charge of Discrimination. Id. St. Martin returned the completed Form 5 to the EEOC on or about August 10, 2014. Id., Ex 2, at pp. 2-4. On August 15, 2014 the EEOC sent a Dismissal and Notice of Rights to St. Martin advising her that it was closing her case because she had not filed her complaint in a timely manner. See Id., ¶ 6 and Ex. 3, at p. 1. The letter also contained the standard Notice of Suit Rights which advised St. Martin that she had the right to file a lawsuit within 90 days of the date of receipt of the letter. Id.

AZZ's Alleged Discriminatory Acts

St. Martin claims that AZZ failed to engage in an "interactive process" regarding reasonable accommodation to which she was entitled for her "known disability, " despite the fact that such an accommodation was known and apparent. AZZ's failure to engage in the "interactive process" began on May 8, 2013, upon the expiration of the leave to which St. Martin was entitled under the FMLA, when it sent her a letter outlining her rights to additional leave in accordance with company policy. AZZ also failed to engage in the interactive process occurred in August 2013, when St. Martin was told by an AZZ human resources representative, Ms. Jefferson, that she would most likely be terminated. St. Martin was asked to provide AZZ with reports from her recent doctor's visits. St. Martin told Ms. Jefferson that her doctor said she could come back on a limited hours schedule. Ms. Jefferson told Ms. St. Martin AZZ would not allow that and asked her if she really wanted to come back; St. Martin replied that she did not want to lose her job.

On August 9, 2013, AZZ sent St. Martin a letter with a form, i.e., the Healthcare Provider Inquiry, to be filled out by her physician and returned within 15 days. After receiving the letter, St. Martin called AZZ's human resources department and asked what the form was-she was told it might assist in holding her job. On August 23, 2013, St. Martin's physician, Dr. McSweeney, faxed the ...


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