United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Central Division, Lexington
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
C. REEVES UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter is pending for consideration of the defendant's
motion for judgment on the pleadings. [Record No. 23] The
motion will be granted, in part, and denied, in part, for the
reasons that follow.
Anthony Adkins alleges that he is a former employee of Kroger
Limited Partnership I (“Kroger”) with
“active back and shoulder impairments, which
substantially limit major life activities, including but not
limited to work.” [Record No. 21, ¶¶ 6, 7]
Adkins began a medical leave of absence from his employment
on September 26, 2013. [Record No. 22-2] Kroger's leave
of absence policy is contained in a collective bargaining
agreement (“CBA”) negotiated with its
employees' union. [Record No. 22-1] The relevant
[a] leave of absence because of sickness or non-work related
injury, not to exceed ninety (90) days, shall be granted to
an employee upon written request, supported by medical
evidence. Extensions shall be granted up to ninety (90) days
at a time, if requested in writing and supported by proper
medical evidence prior to each expiration, but in no case
shall the leave exceed two (2) years in duration.
No. 22-1, p. 21 (emphasis added).]
leave of absence was extended until December 30, 2015, in
excess of the two-year limit contained in the CBA.
[See Record No. 21, ¶ 10; Record No. 25-1.]
Kroger mailed Adkins a letter on December 23, 2015, stating
that, “[i]n accordance with your union contract,
absences from employment due to sickness or injury shall not
exceed two (2) years in length. Therefore, effective December
30, 2015 your employment with the Kroger Co will be
terminated.” [See Record No. 21, ¶ 12;
Record No. 25-2.] Adkins received the letter on December 28,
2015. [Record No. 21 ¶¶ 12, 13]
next day, Adkins obtained a note from his doctor clearing him
to work one day per week as long as he did not lift, push, or
pull over 20 pounds. [Record No. 25-3] He provided the note
to the personnel manager at the Georgetown Kroger store, who
provided it to John Mosley, the store manager. [Record No.
21, ¶¶ 14-15, 17-78] Mosley allegedly informed
Adkins that “there was nothing he could do for him and
he was afraid he would get hurt.” [Id. ¶
also spoke to a co-manager who said there was a
“pricing” job available that he would like Adkins
to fill upon his return. [Id. ¶ 16] When Adkins
“informed store manager John Mosley that a co-manager
told him that [he] could do a pricing job, ” Mosley
stated that he would “contact the human resources
department.” [Id. at ¶ 19] The next
morning, Adkins obtained a note from his doctor clearing him
to perform the pricing job, and provided the note to the
personnel manager at the Georgetown Kroger. [Id.
¶¶ 20, 21] However, in accordance with the letter
dated December 23, 2015, Adkins' employment with Kroger
was terminated that same day. [Id. ¶¶ 12,
filed this action on January 19, 2018, alleging that Kroger:
(i) unlawfully discriminated against him based on his
disability; (ii) failed to provide him with a reasonable
accommodation or engage in an interactive process with him;
(iii) is estopped from arguing that he was not otherwise
qualified to return to work in the pricing job; and (iv)
caused him to incur attorney's fees and costs.
[Id. ¶¶ 23-38] Kroger has moved for
judgment on the pleadings, arguing that Adkins has failed to
state a disability discrimination or reasonable accommodation
claim, and that his estoppel and attorney's fees claims
are not independent claims recognized by Kentucky law.
[Record No. 23] Kroger also argues that Adkins' claims
are preempted by the Labor Management Relations Act
(“LMRA”) and barred by the six-month statute of
limitations applicable to LMRA claims. [Id.]
motion for judgment on the pleadings under Rule 12(c) of the
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure is analyzed under the same
standard as a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6). See
Roth v. Guzman, 650 F.3d 603, 605 (6th Cir. 2011). Under
that standard, the Court must determine whether the Complaint
alleges “sufficient factual matter, accepted as true,
to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its
face.'” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662,
678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550
U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). The plausibility standard is met
“when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows
the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant
is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Id.
(citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556).
the Complaint need not contain “detailed factual
allegations” to satisfy the plausibility standard, the
“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.” Twombly, 550
U.S. at 555 (internal quotation marks and citation omitted).
Further, while the Court is required to accept all of the
plaintiff's factual allegations as true, “the tenet
that a court must accept as true all of the allegations
contained in a complaint is inapplicable to legal
conclusions.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678.
general, where “matters outside the pleadings are
presented to and not excluded by the court, the motion will
be treated as one for summary judgment under Rule 56.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(d). “[H]owever, documents attached to
the pleadings become part of the pleadings and may be
considered on a motion to dismiss.” Commercial
Money Ctr., Inc. v. Ill. Union Ins. Co., 508 F.3d 327,
335-36 (6th Cir. 2007) (citing Fed.R.Civ.P. 10(c)).
Accordingly, the Court may consider the documents attached to