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Rodriguez v. Rochester Genesee Regional Transportation Authority

United States District Court, W.D. New York

August 4, 2014

JANICE RODRIGUEZ, Plaintiff,
v.
ROCHESTER GENESEE REGIONAL TRANSPORTATION AUTHORITY AND DR. ELAINE TUNAITIS, Defendants.

DECISION and ORDER

MICHAEL A. TELESCA, District Judge.

INTRODUCTION

Plaintiff Janice Rodriguez, ("Rodriguez"), proceeding pro se, brings this action pursuant to the Americans with Disabilities Act, codified at 42 U.S.C. 12181 et. seq., and Section 296 of the New York State Human Rights Law claiming that she was discriminated against by the defendants Rochester Genesee Regional Transportation Authority ("RGRTA" or "defendant") and Dr. Elaine Tunaitis on the basis of a disability. Plaintiff, who claims to suffer from a back injury and a lifting restriction, claims that RGRTA failed to hire her as a bus driver because of her disability (or a perceived disability) or, in the alternative, that RGRTA failed to provide her with reasonable accommodations so that she could perform the position of bus driver. Although plaintiff names Dr. Tunaitis as defendant in the Complaint, there are no allegations directed specifically against her.

The defendants deny plaintiff's allegations, and move to dismiss plaintiff's complaint for failure to state a cause of action. Specifically, the defendants contend that plaintiff was not hired by RGRTA because she lied to RGRTA and Dr. Tunaitis regarding her medical history, and therefore was unable to pass a medical examination required of all bus drivers in the State of New York. Defendant contends that because plaintiff could not pass her medical examination, she was not qualified to be hired as a bus driver. Plaintiff has not opposed the defendants' motion.

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

BACKGROUND

The following background information is taken from the plaintiff's Complaint and the unopposed evidence submitted in support of defendants' motion to dismiss. Plaintiff Janice Rodriguez applied for a position as a part-time bus driver with the RGRTA. According to the Complaint, Rodriguez was given a conditional job offer pending her passing a medical examination. According to the defendant, all bus drivers must pass a statemandated medical examination prior to being allowed to operate a bus.

On July 11, 2013, plaintiff completed a medical certification statement as part of the medical examination process. On the statement, plaintiff stated that she had no disabilities that prevented her from performing work, and stated that she had never sustained a work-related injury or filed a claim for workers' compensation. During the medical examination performed by Dr. Tunaitis, plaintiff allegedly told Dr. Tunaitis that she had had back surgery in 2003, and had not seen a doctor since that time. According to medical records obtained by Dr. Tunaitis, however, it became apparent that plaintiff had filed a workers' compensation claim based on a work-related injury, had a lifting restriction of 15 pounds, and had last been to the doctor in 2009, not 2003 or 2004 as she had told Dr. Tunaitis. According to the defendant, plaintiff was disqualified from the driver position because she lied to RGRTA on the medical form, lied to Dr. Tunaitis, and did not pass her medical examination.

DISCUSSION

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 Circ., 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 state a cause of action for disability discrimination.

Plaintiff alleges that she was discriminated against on the basis of a disability, or a perceived disability. 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. ยง 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 job; (3) adverse employment action was taken against her because of her handicap; and (4) her employer is subject to the anti-discrimination provisions of the ADA. Joyce v. Suffolk County , 911 F.Supp. 92, 94 (E.D.N.Y. 1996) (citations omitted). A plaintiff may also ...


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