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Banks v. Bosch Rexroth Corp.

United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Central Division

April 14, 2014

LASHAUNNA BANKS, Plaintiff,
v.
BOSCH REXROTH CORPORATION, et al., Defendants

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For LaShaunna Banks, Plaintiff: J. Dale Golden, Justin Peterson, Morgan Jenkins Fitzhugh, LEAD ATTORNEYS, Golden & Walters PLLC, Lexington, KY.

For Bosch Rexroth Corporation, Defendant: Andrew H. Stuart, LEAD ATTORNEY, PRO HAC VICE, Stuart & Johnson LLC, Atlanta, GA; Kevin M. Norris, LEAD ATTORNEY, Smith & Smith Attorneys, Louisville, KY; Laurin Elizabeth McDonald, LEAD ATTORNEY, PRO HAC VICE, Matthew A. Hood, LEAD ATTORNEY, Stuart & Johnston LLC, Atlanta, GA.

For Dan Reynolds, Geoff O'Nan, Defendants: Andrew H. Stuart, LEAD ATTORNEY, PRO HAC VICE, Stuart & Johnson LLC, Atlanta, GA; Kevin M. Norris, LEAD ATTORNEY, Smith & Smith Attorneys, Louisville, KY; Matthew A. Hood, LEAD ATTORNEY, Stuart & Johnston LLC, Atlanta, GA.

OPINION

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MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Danny C. Reeves, United States District Judge.

This matter is pending for consideration of Defendants Bosch Rexroth Corporation (" Bosch" ), Dan Reynolds, Geoff O'Nan, and Valenda Allen's motion for summary judgment. [Record No. 49] For the reasons set forth below, the motion will be granted in its entirety.

I.

Plaintiff LaShaunna Banks worked as an assembler for Defendant Bosch for approximately eight years. [Record No. 20, p. 2 ¶ 5] Defendant Allen was a human resources generalist for Bosch and was responsible for the calculation, classification, and notification of Banks' FMLA hours. [Record No. 55-1, p. 2] Defendant Reynolds was a human resources manager responsible for Banks' FMLA time. Reynolds also supervised Banks. [ Id., p. 2-3] Defendant O'Nan was a production manager at Bosch and Banks' direct supervisor. [ Id., p. 3] Banks alleges that she suffers from disabling migraine headaches that caused her to be absent from her work station and occasionally to leave work entirely. [Record No. 20, p. 2 ¶ 7] Banks' treating physician, Dr. Burns, provided a letter to Bosch that notified the company of Banks' condition. The letter indicated that exposure to two chemicals present at Banks' place of employment (accrolube and toluene) exacerbated her condition. [Record No. 49-3] Dr. Burns' letter further indicated that when Banks' condition is exacerbated, she should take medication and a break for 15-30 minutes. If the medication did not improve her condition, Dr. Burns recommended that she leave work. [ Id. ]

Banks was granted intermittent leave under the Family Medical Leave Act of 1993 (" FMLA" ), 29 U.S.C. § 2601, due to the above-described condition. [Record No 20, p. 3 ¶ 10] However, she alleges that the defendants denied and/or impeded access to her worksite, refused to accommodate her disability, and discriminated against her because of her disability. [ Id. ¶ 11] Banks complained to various entities, including the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (" EEOC" ) and the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Human Rights Commission about her employer's behavior and calculation of her FMLA hours. [ Id. ¶ 12; Record No. 27, p. 4]

The circumstances regarding Banks' exit from Bosch are disputed. On July 10, 2012, Banks had her employee identification card taken. Thereafter, she left the company. [Record No 20, p. 3 ¶ 13; Record No, 51-14, p. 17] Banks claims that she was terminated on that date, while the defendants argue that she was placed on paid suspension. [Record No. 49-1, p. 6] Bosch claims that, after what it perceived to be Banks' failure to attend independent medical examinations (" IMEs" ), it terminated her on August 3, 2012. [ Id. ] Banks alleges that she was on approved FMLA leave when the terminated occurred. [Record No. 30, p. 3 ¶ ¶ 14, 15]

Banks' Amended Complaint alleges: (i) FMLA interference under 29 U.S.C. § 2615(a)(1); (ii) FMLA retaliation under 29 U.S.C. § 2615(a)(2); (iii) disability discrimination

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in violation of the Kentucky Civil Rights Act (" KCRA" ) under KRS § 344.040; (iv) failure to accommodate in violation of the KCRA under KRS § 344.040; (v) unlawful retaliation in violation of the KCRA under KRS § 344.280; (vi) negligence, negligent hiring, negligent training, negligent supervision, and negligent retention; (vii) punitive damages; and (viii) outrage and intentional infliction of emotional distress (" IIED" ). [Record No. 20, pp. 3-8] The Court dismissed the KCRA claims of discrimination and failure to accommodate against the individual Defendants and the negligence, IIED, and punitive damages claims in their entirety. [Record No. 53] Additionally, Banks was directed to file a more definite statement regarding the remaining claims. [Record No. 55-1] The defendants supplemented their motion for summary judgment [Record No. 58] in response to Banks' more definite statement [Record No. 55-1].

II.

Summary judgment is appropriate when " the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a); see Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986); Chao v. Hall Holding Co., 285 F.3d 415, 424 (6th Cir. 2002). A dispute over a material fact is not " genuine" unless a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party. That is, the determination must be " whether the evidence presents a sufficient disagreement to require submission to a jury or whether it is so one-sided that one party must prevail as a matter of law." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 251-52, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986).

The party moving for summary judgment bears the burden of showing that no genuine issue of material fact exists. CenTra, Inc. v. Estrin, 538 F.3d 402, 412 (6th Cir. 2008). However, once the moving party has met its burden of production, " its opponent must do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts." Sigler v. Am. Honda Motor Co., 532 F.3d 469, 483 (6th Cir. 2008) (citing Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586, 106 S.Ct. 1348, 89 L.Ed.2d 538 (1986)). Instead, the nonmoving party must present " significant probative evidence" of a genuine dispute . . . to defeat the motion for summary judgment. Chao, 285 F.3d at 424. The nonmoving party cannot simply rely upon the assertions in its pleadings. It must come forward with probative evidence, such as sworn affidavits, to support its claims. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 324. In deciding whether to grant summary judgment, the Court views all the facts and inferences drawn from the evidence in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Matsushita, 475 U.S. at 587.

III.

A. KCRA Disability Discrimination and Failure to Accommodate Claims

i. Reasonable Accommodation

The defendants contend that Bosch is entitled to summary judgment on the KCRA discrimination and failure to accommodate claims as banks was not a " qualified individual" under the Americans with Disabilities Act (" ADA" ). [Record No. 49-1, p. 10] Because the language of the KCRA parallels the requirements of the ADA, courts commonly use the ADA to interpret the KCRA. See Bryson v. Regis Corp., 498 F.3d 561, 574 (6th Cir. 2007). Under the ADA, it is unlawful for an employer to " discriminate against a qualified individual on the basis of disability in regard

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to . . . discharge of employees . . . and other terms, conditions, and privileges of employment." 42 U.S.C. § 12112(a). Discriminating " on the basis of disability" includes " not making reasonable accommodations to the known physical or mental limitations of an otherwise qualified individual with a disability who is an . . . employee, unless such covered entity can demonstrate that the accommodation would impose an undue hardship on the operation of the business of such covered entity." 42 U.S.C. § 12112(b)(5)(A). It is considered discrimination where a covered entity " den[ies] employment opportunities to a[n] . . . employee who is an otherwise qualified individual with a disability, if such denial is based on the need of such covered entity to make reasonable accommodation to the physical or mental impairments of the employee or applicant." 42 U.S.C. § 12112(b)(5)(B). " The ...


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