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Wildman v. Verizon Corp.

January 14, 2009

CAROL WILDMAN, PLAINTIFF,
v.
VERIZON CORPORATION, NICHOL HALL, SANDY SHIVAS, JOY RICHARDSON, AND JUDY SHELDON, INDIVIDUALLY, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Scullin, Senior Judge

MEMORANDUM-DECISION AND ORDER

I. INTRODUCTION

Plaintiff filed her complaint on July 19, 2005,*fn2 asserting various causes of action against her employer Defendant Verizon and her managers and superiors, Defendants Hall, Shivas, Richardson, and Sheldon, under the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA") and the New York Human Rights Law ("NYHRL"), including the following: failure to accommodate, employment discrimination, hostile work environment, and pattern-and-practice discrimination. Currently before the Court is Defendants' motion for summary judgment on all of Plaintiff's claims.

II. BACKGROUND

From 1997 to the present, Plaintiff worked as a Customer Service Representative in Defendant Verizon's Saratoga Springs Call Center. Since August 2002, Plaintiff has suffered from back problems, and her physician requested an ergonomic evaluation. Shortly after September 13, 2002, Plaintiff went on disability leave.

Plaintiff returned to work on April 7, 2003, working half-days under doctor's orders. In July 2003, Defendant Verizon ordered an ergonomic chair and a hydraulic sit/stand station ("ergonomic equipment") for Plaintiff. On July 17, 2003, Plaintiff suffered a back injury at work. The next day, Plaintiff went on disability leave until April 19, 2004. The ergonomic equipment arrived in October and December of 2003.

During her employment, Plaintiff was a member of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local 2213 ("Union"). After a dispute regarding Plaintiff's capacity to work full days, the Union sought a third medical opinion. On June 30, 2004, Dr. J. Ernest Mincy examined Plaintiff and opined that Plaintiff could only work five hours per day. Plaintiff did not appeal this opinion.

After receiving Dr. Mincy's opinion, Defendant Verizon reclassified Plaintiff from a full-time to a part-time employee. From November 2, 2005, until the filing of Defendants' motion, Plaintiff has been out of work on disability leave based on mental and emotional distress.

III. DISCUSSION

A. Preliminary Matters

In her memorandum of law, Plaintiff concedesthat the evidence fails as a matter of law to establish any intentional discrimination claimother than her failure-to-accommodate claim and her harassment and hostile work environment claim. She also concedes that her claims for pattern-and-practice discrimination and claims against Defendants Hall, Richardson and Sheldon fail. Accordingly, Plaintiff has abandoned these claims; and the Court grants Defendants' motion for summary judgment with respect to these claims. Thus, the only remaining claims are Plaintiff's failure-to-accommodate claim and her hostile work environment claim against Defendant Verizon.

B. Plaintiff's Failure-to-accommodate Claim

Under the ADA and the NYHRL, to establish a prima facie case of failure-to-accommodate disability discrimination, a plaintiff must demonstrate that "1) [s]he was an 'individual who has a disability' within the meaning of the statute; 2) the employer had notice of [her] disability; 3) [s]he could perform the essential functions of the job with reasonable accommodation; and 4) the employer refused to make such accommodation." Parker v. Columbia Pictures Indus., 204 F.3d 326, 331 & n.1 (2d Cir. 2000) (discriminatory discharge case) (citation omitted).

In addition, in a failure-to-timely-accommodate case, the plaintiff must prove that the defendant's delay "was 'motivated by discriminatory intent[;]'" evidence that the delay was unreasonable can show such intent. Manessis v. N.Y. City Dep't of Transp., No. 02 Civ. 359(SAS), 2003 WL 289969, *17 (S.D.N.Y. Feb. 10, 2003).*fn3 In this case, the parties dispute ...


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