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Shaughnessy v. Xerox Corporation

United States District Court, W.D. New York

March 27, 2015

DAVID G. SHAUGHNESSY, Plaintiff,
v.
XEROX CORPORATION, Defendant.

ORDER

MICHAEL A. TELESCA, District Judge.

INTRODUCTION

Plaintiff David G. Shaughnessy ("Shaughnessy"), an employee of defendant Xerox Corporation ("Xerox"), brings this action pursuant to the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (the "ADA") claiming that Xerox discriminated against him on the basis of a disability and retaliated against him for exercising rights under the ADA. Specifically, plaintiff alleges that Xerox failed to accommodate his disability of a sprained ankle, and retaliated against him for seeking an accommodation for his disability.

Defendant denies plaintiff's claims, and moves pursuant to Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure for summary judgment against the plaintiff. Defendant contends that because Shaughnessy was not a qualified person with a disability under the terms of the ADA, and therefore he can not establish any violation of the ADA. Xerox also contends that plaintiff has failed to state a prima facie case of retaliation. Shaughnessy opposes the defendant's motion. For the reasons set forth below, I grant defendant's motion for summary judgment, and dismiss plaintiff's Complaint with prejudice.

BACKGROUND

The following facts are taken from the respective statements of fact submitted by the plaintiff and defendant. Plaintiff David Shaughnessy was hired by Xerox as a full time employee in 2006. In 2009, he became a Chemical Technician in the Emulsion Aggregation Toner Pilot Plant at Xerox's Webster, New York plant. Although plaintiff alleges that he performed his job satisfactorily, the defendant contends that plaintiff's work was often criticized; that he was often inattentive to his work, and that he had issues with absenteeism. Defendant further alleges that plaintiff often made mistakes which caused delays in production, spoilation of products, and lost time due to required decontamination and cleaning of equipment. Plaintiff contends that at all times during his employment he was rated "above average" and that he received monetary bonuses as a result of his work performance.

On January 18, 2010, plaintiff called into work to notify his supervisor that he had sustained a sprained ankle, and would be absent from work for two days. Although plaintiff contends that the injury was not a "simple sprain, " he admits that he was diagnosed with a "sprained anterior talofibular ligament with a possible strained calcaneofibular ligament." Plaintiff missed work on January 19 and 20, 2010, and returned to work on crutches on January 21, 2010. Plaintiff was under a work restriction imposed by his doctor which limited him to jobs involving no standing, lifting, pulling, or pushing for two weeks.

According to the plaintiff, following the expiration of the two week restriction period, plaintiff's supervisor requested that Shaughnessy provide Xerox with a medical release indicating that he had no further work restrictions. Plaintiff claims that he was unable to obtain such a release because in fact his ankle injury was getting worse, and, as a result plaintiff took additional medical leave on February 9, 2010. Although plaintiff was scheduled to return to work on February 22, 2010, with medical restrictions limiting him to light duty, he claims that his supervisor refused to allow him to return to work unless he was medically cleared to perform all of his job duties.

Plaintiff contends that because he could not return to work without any medical restrictions, he was placed on short-term disability leave. He returned to work in March, 2010, again, with light-duty work restrictions.

Plaintiff continued to work under medical restrictions, but claims that Xerox violated those restrictions by forcing him to perform jobs that included climbing stairs from a first floor to a second floor, and later up two flights of stairs. Plaintiff claims that as a result of being forced to climb stairs, he re-injured his ankle. According to the defendant, the supervisor that made the work assignment did not believe that the work assignment violated plaintiff's restrictions because the assignment did not require plaintiff to climb or work at unprotected heights.

According to the defendant, on March 16, 2010, Shaughnessy damaged a toner dryer when he accidentally bent an auger. Xerox contends that the damage to the machine caused significant delays in production. As a result, plaintiff was issued a formal warning on March 18, 2010. The notice highlighted several alleged deficiencies in plaintiff's performance, including lack of attentiveness, incorrect assembly of machine parts, incorrect calculation of chemical ratios for an acid used in the production process, and several other mistakes or accidents. The warning also noted plaintiff's alleged failure to provide adequate notice of planned absences from work, and adjusting his own work schedule without approval. According to Xerox, the warning notified plaintiff that he needed to improve his performance within 60 days. It is undisputed that the warning did not result in a diminution of pay or benefits. On May 18, 2010, two months after the warning was issued, it was withdrawn on grounds that plaintiff's performance had improved.

Twelve days later, on May 26, 2010, plaintiff filed a charge of discrimination and retaliation with the EEOC. On January 24, 2012, the EEOC issued a right to sue letter to Shaughnessy indicating that the EEOC found no violation of any anti-discrimination statute. Thereafter, plaintiff filed the instant action.

DISCUSSION

I. Standard of ...


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