The opinion of the court was delivered by: William C. Conner, Senior District Judge.
This action for employment discrimination under the American
with Disabilities Act ("ADA"), 42 U.S.C. § 12101-12217, and
the New York State Executive Law § 296 et seq., is before the
Court on defendant's Rule 56 motion for summary judgment.
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56. For the reasons stated hereinafter, the motion
is granted in part and denied in part.
The relevant facts are largely undisputed. Plaintiff; Andrew
Powers, was employed by Defendant Polygram Holding, Inc. from
December 5, 1994 until his termination on September 15, 1997.
Plaintiff suffers from clinically diagnosed manic depressive
disorder, and was under the care of a psychiatrist at all
relevant times. During this time period, he was an Associate Tax
Director in defendant's tax department. The tax department was
budgeted to have twelve full-time employees. By all accounts, the
period leading up to plaintiffs termination was an exceedingly
busy time in the department because of a September deadline for
filing a large number of tax returns and an ongoing Internal
Revenue Service ("IRS") audit, with many of the employees,
plaintiff included, typically working twelve-hour days.
On May 4, 1997, plaintiff, because of his mental illness,
requested that defendant reduce his working hours and his
responsibilities. On May 29, 1997, this request was granted.
Plaintiffs hours were limited to 8:30 am to 4:30 pm each day, and
it was agreed that plaintiff would no longer be responsible for
reviewing foreign tax payments or matters related to the IRS
audit. In view of the reduction in hours, plaintiffs salary was
reduced by twenty percent.
On June 18, 1997, plaintiff could no longer continue working
and requested a six-week leave of absence, which was granted. At
the end of that period, plaintiff informed defendant that he was
still unable to return to work and requested an additional
one-month leave of absence. That request was also granted. When
that period was about to expire, plaintiff asked defendant for
approximately one more month of leave. That request was likewise
granted. After a total of approximately thirteen weeks of leave,
plaintiff made another request for one additional month of leave,
estimating his return date to be October 13, 1997, which would
have resulted in an overall leave of absence approximating
seventeen weeks. This request. was denied and plaintiff was
Because of his termination, plaintiff claims that he was
unlawfully discriminated against and retaliated against because
of his disability, in violation of the ADA and New York State
Executive Law § 296. Plaintiff also claims that defendant
retaliated against him because he was disabled by putting him in
office, forcing him to prepare tax returns, giving him
insufficient information to complete his work, and compelling him
to use an inadequate computer program. Plaintiff seeks
compensatory and punitive damages. For the reasons stated
hereinafter, we deny defendant's motion to dismiss those claims
related to plaintiffs allegedly wrongful termination. However,
plaintiffs claim that defendant either caused or exacerbated his
manic depressive disorder is dismissed in part. Additionally,
each of plaintiffs claims related to his office space, being
required to prepare tax returns, possessing insufficient
information to do his work, and having to use an inadequate
computer program are dismissed. Finally, all claims for punitive
damages are dismissed.
I. Standard on Summary Judgment
A district court may grant summary judgment only if the
evidence, viewed in the light most favorable to the party
opposing the motion, presents no genuine issue of material fact,
Samuels v. Mockry, 77 F.3d 34, 35 (2d Cir. 1996), and the movant
is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. See Anderson v.
Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 91
L.Ed.2d 202 (1986). The court must resolve all ambiguities and
draw all reasonable inferences in the light most favorable to the
party opposing the motion. See Quaratino v. Tiffany & Co.,
71 F.3d 58, 64 (2d Cir. 1995). "If, as to the issue on which summary
judgment is sought, there is any evidence in the record from
which a reasonable inference could be drawn in favor of the
nonmoving party, summary judgment is improper." Vann v. City of
New York, 72 F.3d 1040, 1049 (2d Cir. 1995). The party seeking
summary judgment has the burden of showing that no genuine
factual dispute exists. See Adickes v. S.H. Kress & Co.,
398 U.S. 144, 157, 90 S.Ct. 1598, 26 L.Ed.2d 142 (1970).
II. Plaintiff's Claim that Defendant Violated the ADA by Firing
According to defendant, the facts of this case are so strong
that no reasonable jury could conclude that, with the benefit of
"reasonable accommodation," plaintiff would have been a
"qualified individual with a disability" under the ADA. The ADA
prohibits employment discrimination based on an employee's
disability. Specifically, the ADA mandates that:
No covered entity shall discriminate against a qualified
individual with a disability because of the disability of such
individual in regard to job application procedures, the hiring,
advancement, or discharge of employees, employee compensation,
job training, and other terms, conditions, and privileges of
42 U.S.C. § 12112 (a) (1994). To defeat an employer's motion
for summary judgment dismissing an ADA claim, an employee must
first make out a prima facie case of discrimination by
establishing the following elements: (1) that he was disabled
within the meaning of the Act; (2) that with or without
reasonable accommodation he was a qualified individual able to
perform the essential functions of the job; and (3) that the
employer discriminated against him because of his disability.
Criado v. IBM Corp., 145 F.3d 437, 441 (1st Cir. 1998); Jacques
v. Clean-Up Group, Inc., 96 F.3d 506, 511 (1st Cir. 1996). The
burden of going forward then shifts to the ...