United States District Court, D. Arizona
Martha Jo Hazelwood, a married woman filing individually, Plaintiff,
Bank of America NA, a North Carolina corporation, Defendant.
G. MURRAY SNOW, District Judge.
Pending before the Court is Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment. (Doc. 27.) For the following reasons, the Motion is granted.
Plaintiff Martha Jo Hazelwood began working as a teller at Defendant Bank of America, N.A., (the "Bank") in 1992 and most recently worked as an Assistant Manager at the Bank's McCormick Ranch location in Scottsdale, Arizona. (Doc. 28 ("DSOF") ¶ 1; Doc. 31 ("PSOF") ¶ 1.) The McCormick Ranch location is managed by a Banking Center Manager who supervises an Assistant Manager, a Teller Operations Supervisor, a Sales and Service Specialist, personal bankers, and tellers. (DSOF ¶ 2; PSOF ¶ 2.) Plaintiff became the Assistant Manager at McCormick Ranch in 2008. (DSOF ¶ 3; PSOF ¶ 3.) Among other duties, this position included "lobby leading, " which involves greeting clients and directing them to the appropriate area of the banking center. ( Id. ) The Assistant Manager also has personal banker duties and opens new accounts. (DSOF ¶ 4; PSOF ¶ 4.) During all times relevant to this Motion, Plaintiff's supervisor was Banking Center Manager Maureen Aaby. (DSOF ¶ 6; PSOF ¶ 6.)
Plaintiff took a leave of absence on October 5, 2010 due to a herniated disc. (DSOF ¶ 12; PSOF ¶ 12.) On November 22, 2010, she was released to return to work by her physician with restrictions that she could not lift over ten pounds and could not sit, stand, or walk for more than one hour at a time. (DSOF ¶ 13; PSOF ¶ 13.) Plaintiff and Aaby discussed how best to accommodate these restrictions. (DSOF ¶ 14; PSOF ¶ 14.) Aaby told Plaintiff that she could use the dedicated accessible teller window as needed. (DSOF ¶ 15; PSOF ¶ 15.) She also assigned Plaintiff a desk on the banking center platform and provided Plaintiff with additional training on tasks she could perform while seated at the platform. (DSOF ¶¶ 18-19; PSOF ¶¶ 18-19.) Plaintiff requested that Aaby also provide her with a stool so that she could sit as needed during her lobby leading duties. (DSOF ¶ 23; PSOF ¶ 23.) Aaby offered Plaintiff a seat she could use, and placed an order for a stool when Plaintiff complained that the initial seat provided was not sufficient. (DSOF ¶¶ 23-26; PSOF ¶¶ 23-26.)
On January 3, 2011, Plaintiff called the Bank's Advice & Counsel Department and stated that she was struggling in her Assistant Manager role. (DSOF ¶ 27; PSOF ¶ 27.) The parties dispute the exact contents of this conversation, but Plaintiff does not dispute that she was told to inform Aaby about her specific need for a chair or stool and encouraged to call Advice & Counsel again if she had further concerns. (DSOF ¶ 29; PSOF ¶ 29.)
At some point in mid-January, 2011, Plaintiff provided Aaby with a note from her physician, dated January 11, 2011, which released Plaintiff to work without restrictions for 30 hours per week. (DSOF ¶ 31; PSOF ¶ 31.) Plaintiff and Aaby discussed the release and agreed that Plaintiff would work six hours per day to accommodate her restriction. (DSOF ¶ 33; PSOF ¶ 33.) On either January 19, 2011, or January 21, 2011, the McCormick Ranch location was subjected to a random audit by the Bank. (DSOF ¶ 35; PSOF ¶ 35.) The location failed the audit and both Plaintiff and Aaby received written warnings. (DSOF ¶ 39; PSOF ¶ 39.)
On January 26, 2011, before the stool that Aaby had ordered had arrived, Plaintiff began a second leave of absence because of her difficulties performing the Assistant Manager position. (DSOF ¶ 26; PSOF ¶ 26.) In February 2011, Plaintiff applied and interviewed for a Teller Operations Supervisor Position at another Bank location in Phoenix. (DSOF ¶ 48; PSOF ¶ 48.) Plaintiff was not chosen for the position. (DSOF ¶ 49; PSOF ¶ 49.) On March 10, 2011, Plaintiff was released by her physician to return to work "as tolerated, " with no particular restrictions for standing or sitting. (DSOF ¶ 34; PSOF ¶ 34.) In September 2011, Plaintiff applied and interviewed for a customer support position at the Bank and was not selected for the job. (DSOF ¶¶ 54-55; PSOF ¶¶ 54-55.) In October 2011, Plaintiff applied for a position in non-fraud ATM and for a position as a fraud analyst II. (DSOF ¶ 59; PSOF ¶ 59.) She was not selected for either position. On an unspecified date, Plaintiff also applied for a Team Leader position in Customer support, but did not receive an interview. (DSOF ¶ 57; PSOF ¶ 57.)
On November 2, 2011, Plaintiff provided Aaby with another note, restricting her to no more than one hour of standing at a time, and no more than four hours standing daily, due to a heel spur. (DSOF ¶ 63; PSOF ¶ 63.) The Bank alleges that Plaintiff was already permitted to sit and stand as needed and that she did not request additional accommodations. (DSOF ¶ 64.) Plaintiff asserts that she was not allowed to sit and stand as needed and that she requested the same accommodations she had requested previously, but was never given. (PSOF ¶ 64.)
On November 28, 2011, Plaintiff took a third leave of absence and remained on leave at the time this Motion was filed. (DSOF ¶ 66; PSOF ¶ 66.) On March 26, 2012, Plaintiff filed a charge of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"), alleging that she was discriminated against by the Bank because of her disability by not being provided a stool and by being denied transfers to other positions. (DSOF ¶ 67; PSOF ¶ 67.) Plaintiff later testified that the statement she had never received a stool was untrue, but she asserts that "the context of the charge was that she did not receive an adequate stool." (DSOF ¶ 69; PSOF ¶ 69.) Plaintiff stated the only time she was not allowed to work her 30-hour work week during the period of that restriction was on the day of the random audit when she was either asked to or instructed to stay later. (DSOF ¶¶ 74-75; PSOF ¶¶ 74-75.) Plaintiff also admitted that she was never actually denied the ability to sit as needed (DSOF ¶ 73), but instead claims she was encouraged to stand "once her hour was up until she could get these things done'" (PSOF ¶ 73). On July 31, 2012, the EEOC issued its determination and right to sue notice. (DSOF ¶ 78, PSOF ¶ 78.)
On October 29, 2012, Plaintiff filed the present action against Defendant in Maricopa County Superior Court. (Doc. 1-3 at 2.) Her Complaint alleges disability discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"). (Doc. 1-3 ¶ 30.) On February 26, 2013, Defendant removed the action to this Court. (Doc. 1.) Defendant now moves for summary judgment, alleging that some of Plaintiff's claims are barred by the statute of limitations and that her remaining claims fail as a matter of law. (Doc. 27.)
I. Legal Standard
Summary judgment is appropriate if the evidence, viewed in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party, demonstrates "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). "[A] party seeking summary judgment always bears the initial responsibility of informing the district court of the basis for its motion, and identifying those portions of [the record] which it ...