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Jones v. Valeo Electrical Systems

March 14, 2008

LYNN V. JONES, PLAINTIFF,
v.
VALEO ELECTRICAL SYSTEMS, INC., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Michael A. Telesca United States District Judge

ORDER and DECISION

INTRODUCTION

Plaintiff Lynn V. Jones ("Jones") brings this action pursuant to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000(e), et seq. ("Title VII"), and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, 42 U.S.C. § 12111 et seq. (the "ADA") against defendant Valeo Electrical Systems, Inc. ("Valeo") claiming that the defendant discriminated against her on the basis of her race and disability. Specifically, Jones, who is black, claims that she was denied several opportunities to work overtime because of her race and disability, that she was denied participation in a company-wide incentive program because of her disability, and that she was subjected to harassment based on her race.

Defendant denies plaintiff's claims, and moves for summary judgment against the plaintiff. In support of its motion, Valeo contends that plaintiff was not allowed to work certain overtime shifts because of medical restrictions imposed upon her by her own physician and a company doctor; that the incentive program about which plaintiff complains was not in place in plaintiff's department, and in any event, plaintiff would not have qualified for the incentives offered; and that plaintiff was not subjected to racial harassment.

For the reasons set forth below, I grant defendant's motion to dismiss plaintiff's Complaint.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff Lynn Jones is a current hourly employee of defendant Valeo, an automobile parts manufacturer with a plant located on Lyell Avenue in the City of Rochester. Plaintiff has worked for Valeo or its predecessors since at least 1980. According to the plaintiff, she suffers from chronic pain in her hands, wrists, arms, and shoulders. As a result of this pain, over the course of her employment with Valeo and its predecessors, plaintiff has had several work restrictions imposed on her by both her own physicians and company physicians. Indeed, as early as 1981, plaintiff had work restrictions placed on her by her own doctors. Occasionally, the work restrictions prevented her from working overtime, or limited the amount of overtime she could work, or the type of jobs she could perform when working overtime.

In early 2003, as a result of plaintiff's work limitations, Valeo transferred Jones to a department known as the Transitional Work Center which, according to Valeo, is a department staffed by employees who have various work restrictions. In May 2003, the company's Medical Director Anthony Aliamo, M.D., reviewed plaintiff's restrictions, and offered her various positions in different departments within the plant. Plaintiff, however, was not satisfied with any of the proposed positions and instead chose to remain in the Transitional Work Center. According to Valeo, employees in the Transitional Work Center are rarely offered overtime opportunities because of their medical restrictions. Plaintiff's physician Dr. Hass believed that plaintiff's placement in the Transitional Work Center had been beneficial for her, and he continued to impose vocational restrictions upon Jones.

Prior to being transferred to the Transitional Work Center, plaintiff had participated in a company-wide program known as the Improvement Process Program. The program was designed to encourage employees to offer suggestions for improving workplace safety and efficiency. The suggestions were to be written in a log book that was available within each employee's department. Under the program guidelines, employees who submitted 36 ideas per year received gift cards to local retail stores.

According to the plaintiff, the Transitional Work Center did not have a log book. When plaintiff complained to her supervisor that her department did not have a log book, her supervisor arranged to have a log book placed within the department.

In June, 2004, Dr. Aliamo again reviewed plaintiff's medical file, and lifted plaintiff's restriction on working overtime, subject to the condition that he would have to personally approve the overtime to assure that the work would not violate any of her medical restrictions.

Shortly thereafter, plaintiff filed a complaint with the New York State Department of Human Rights claiming that she had been discriminated against by Valeo on the basis of her race, gender, and disability. The Department of Human Rights dismissed her claim, and on January 16, 2006, plaintiff filed the instant case pro se. On March 23, 2007, attorney Christina Agola filed a notice of appearance on behalf of the plaintiff, and since that time has represented the plaintiff in this action.

DISCUSSION

I. Defendants' Motion for ...


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