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MICARI v. TRANS WORLD AIRLINES

April 26, 1999

FRANK MICARI, JR., PLAINTIFF,
v.
TRANS WORLD AIRLINES, INC., DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Glasser, District Judge.

MEMORANDUM & ORDER

BACKGROUND

Defendant Trans World Airlines, Inc. ("TWA") operates a commercial airline. Plaintiff Frank Micari, Jr. ("Micari") began working for TWA at John F. Kennedy International Airport as an airplane mechanic in July of 1988. The duties of mechanic, which are more fully defined by the applicable collective bargaining agreement between TWA and Micari's union, are comprised of activities such as dismantling, overhauling, repairing, fabricating, assembling, welding and erecting all parts of airplanes, airplane engines and related machinery. Micari's duties included primarily the maintenance and repair of equipment and tools used for loading aircraft.

On April 30, 1992, Micari alleges that he injured his neck and back while at work when he pushed open a large fire door that separated two rooms. Based on that accident, he filed a Workers' Compensation claim and received benefits, Micari also took a medical leave of absence from TWA that lasted approximately 20 months.

In December of 1993, Micari returned to work at TWA. In May of 1994, Micari alleges that he again injured himself while working. This time the injuries were to his neck, back, arms and legs. After either May 4th or May 12th of 1994— the exact date is disputed by the parties— Micari failed to report for work; he subsequently filed a Worker's Compensation claim. Pursuant to TWA's policies, which are identified in its Management Policy & Procedure Manual, TWA requested that Micari submit documentation of his condition to verify that he had sustained a serious injury and that he was eligible for a medical leave of absence. The parties continue to dispute whether Micari provided all of the supporting medical documentation requested by TWA.

On July 1, 1994, TWA supervisory personnel William Glynn and Kevin Lyons met with Micari and union shop steward Perry Esposito concerning Micari's alleged failure to provide the requested documentation. Both parties agree that Micari did submit some documents that attested to his medical condition and that, by letter dated July 20, 1994, TWA notified Micari that the documentation he submitted did not substantiate any disability that would preclude him from performing the duties of a mechanic. The July 20, 1994 letter also states that, for Micari's absence to be approved, complete updated medical records needed to be submitted. Again, the parties dispute whether Micari furnished the requested information in response to this letter.

On August 1, 1994, TWA wrote Micari and advised him that, due to his unauthorized absences from work beginning May 13, 1994, he was in violation of Article 17(k) of the collective bargaining agreement. That Article provides that employees must be truthful in their dealings with TWA and must avoid unnecessary absences and other abuses of sick leave privileges. The letter also informed Micari that a discharge hearing had been scheduled for August 5, 1994.

On August 9, 1994, a discharge hearing was held. Micari was present along with representatives from his union. At the meeting, the plaintiff was charged with unauthorized absences from work. In a letter dated that same day, the hearing officer, M.C. Sickles, stated that Micari would be discharged if, within seven working days from receipt of the letter, he did not provide complete updated medical records to substantiate his disability. Again, the parties dispute whether Micari provided the requested materials in response to this letter. On August 23, 1994, TWA notified Micari in writing that his employment was being terminated effective that date because of his failure to supply proper verification of his claimed basis for a medical leave.

Subsequent to his termination by TWA, Micari pursued an appeal of SSA's denial of his first disability claim. On June 24, 1994, Micari represented to the SSA that he returned to work during 1994, but "was unable to perform my job duties." In a subsequent submission to the SSA of a form captioned "Claimant's Recent Medical Treatment," he stated that he had been told by doctors to "Avoid exertion; no work."

Micari's Complaint claims entitlement to relief, under the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA") and the New York Human Rights Law ("NYHRL") Section 290 et seq., respectively. Both claims are predicated on two separate acts of TWA. First, Micari alleges that TWA discriminated against him when it failed to accommodate his request for "light duty" work. Second, he alleges that the defendant discriminated against him by terminating him based on his disability. The defendant contends that the undisputed facts establish that none of the plaintiffs claims can succeed as a matter of law and, accordingly, now moves for summary judgment.

DISCUSSION

I. Summary Judgment Standard ...


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