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Dancause v. Mount Morris Central School District

United States District Court, Second Circuit

June 14, 2013



MICHAEL A. TELESCA, District Judge.


Plaintiff Gloria Dancause, ("Dancause"), a former teacher employed by the defendant Mount Morris Central School District ("Mount Morris" or "the School District"), brings this action pursuant to the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (the "ADA") claiming that the defendant discriminated against her on the basis of a disability by terminating her employment. Specifically Dancause claims that she was forced to resign her position after she requested, and was denied, time-off to deal with a medical condition which she claims is disabling. She claims that because the defendant failed to accommodate her disability, and forced her to resign because of her disability, she has been discriminated against in violation of the ADA.

Defendant denies plaintiff's claims, and moves pursuant to Rule 12 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure to dismiss plaintiff's Complaint on grounds that plaintiff has failed to state a cause of action for disability discrimination. For the reasons set forth below, I grant defendant's motion and dismiss plaintiff's Complaint without prejudice.


According to the Complaint, plaintiff Gloria Dancause began her employment with defendant Mount Morris Central School District in September, 2002. While the Complaint states that plaintiff was employed as "an educator" with the School District, (Complaint at ¶ 18) the Complaint does not explicitly state what plaintiff's position was.[1] According to an Exhibit attached to the Complaint, plaintiff was employed as an English as a Second Language Teacher. See September 8, 2010 Letter from Edward Orman, attached as Exhibit "A" to Plaintiff's Complaint.

In August 2010, plaintiff requested time off to "address certain medical issues." Complaint at ¶ 13. According to the Complaint, plaintiff suffers from "Profound Periodontal Disease with Accelerated Bone Loss of the Lower Jaw" and required time off to address a "flare up." Complaint at ¶¶ 15, 18. Plaintiff claims that shortly after she requested time off, the Superintendent of the School District told her that because she lacked proper teaching certification, she would no longer be employed at the School District, and that she could either voluntarily resign or face a disciplinary hearing regarding her lack of sufficient qualifications. Plaintiff alleges that she felt threatened by the ultimatum, and as a result, was coerced into resigning.

While it is undisputed by the plaintiff that she lacks proper state certification to teach English as a Second Language, she claims that her lack of certification was used as a pretext for discrimination against her based on her periodontal disease, which she claims is a disability. She claims that the defendant was aware of her lack of certification, and that the parties had been "working together in good faith on a mutually acceptable plan to ensure Plaintiff's proper Certification." Complaint at ¶ 23. She further claims that at least one other teacher, who was not disabled, but who lacked proper certification, was allowed to teach despite not being certified. Complaint at ¶ 32. She claims that the defendant was obligated to learn more about her disability and determine whether or not her disability could be accommodated, but instead, forced her to resign because of her periodontal disease. Complaint at ¶¶ 26-28. Plaintiff does not allege, however, that her periodontal disease in any way interfered with her ability to obtain the proper certification to teach English as a Second Language.


I. Standard for Motion to Dismiss

In reviewing a motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, the Court must "accept... all factual allegations in the complaint and draw... all reasonable inferences in the plaintiff's favor." See Ruotolo v. City of New York , 514 F.3d 184, 188 (2d Cir.2008) (internal quotation marks omitted). In order to withstand dismissal, the complaint must plead "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." See Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly , 550 U.S. 544, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 1974 (2007) (disavowing the oft-quoted statement from Conley v. Gibson , 355 U.S. 41 (1957), that "a complaint should not be dismissed for failure to state a claim unless it appears beyond doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of his claim which would entitle him to relief").

"While a complaint attacked by a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss does not need detailed factual allegations, a plaintiff's obligation to provide the grounds of his entitlement to relief requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do." See id. at 1965 (internal quotation marks omitted). Moreover, conclusory allegations are not entitled to any assumption of truth, and therefore, will not support a finding that the plaintiff has stated a valid claim. Hayden v. Patterson , 594 F.3d 150, 161 (2nd. Cir., 2010). Thus, "at a bare minimum, the operative standard requires the plaintiff [to] provide the grounds upon which his claim rests through factual allegations sufficient to raise a right to relief above the speculative level.'" See Goldstein v. Pataki , 516 F.3d 50, 56-57 (2d Cir.2008) (quoting Twombly , 127 S.Ct. at 1974).

II. Plaintiff has failed to establish that she is qualified for her position as a School Teacher

Section 12112 of the ADA prohibits discrimination against qualified individuals with a disability with respect to conditions of employment including hiring, advancement, discharge and compensation. 42 U.S.C.A. § 12112(a) (1995). To state a prima facie case of discrimination under the ADA, a plaintiff must demonstrate that (1) she is a handicapped person within the meaning of the ADA; (2) she is otherwise qualified to perform the duties of her former job; (3) adverse employment action was taken against her because of her handicap; and (4) her employer ...

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