United States District Court, D. Arizona
G. Campbell Senior United States District Judge
Plaintiff Charity Mitchell sued Defendant American Airlines
alleging breach of contract and a violation of the Americans
with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. § 12101 et. seq.,
(“ADA”). Doc. 41. The Court dismissed
Plaintiff's breach of contract claim (Doc. 54), and
Defendant now moves for summary judgment on the remaining ADA
claim (Doc. 71). The motion is fully briefed. Docs. 71, 72,
74-76. For the following reasons, the Court will grant
following facts are undisputed unless otherwise
noted. The Court will consider a fact undisputed
“[i]f a party fails to properly support an assertion of
fact or fails to properly address another party's
assertion of fact as required by Rule
56(c).”Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(e); LRCiv 56.1(b).
2004, Plaintiff began working for Defendant as a customer
service agent (“CSA”). Doc. 72-1 at 10-11.
Plaintiff's responsibilities included checking in and
rerouting passengers, getting passengers to their planes, and
working in the baggage area and passenger assistance center.
Id. at 11. Because the airline industry is
competitive, customer service was an important aspect of
Plaintiff's duties. Id. at 13.
collective bargaining agreement (“CBA”) between
Defendant and Plaintiff's union (“the Union”)
governed the terms of Plaintiff's employment.
Id. at 16. Defendant's performance policy
included a “progressive discipline plan” for
CSAs, with increasingly severe consequences for misconduct,
including “a non[-]disciplinary coaching session, a
level one, level two, [and] level three suspension, [and]
discipline or termination.” Id. at 19. Under
the policy, if misconduct was sufficiently serious, Defendant
could bypass the progressive discipline and opt for
termination. Id. at 19. Defendant's company
policy prohibited employee rudeness or disrespect to
passengers. Id. at 59-60.
furloughed Plaintiff in February 2010, and Plaintiff later
transferred to Charlotte, North Carolina. Id. at
31-32. Plaintiff then transferred to Phoenix, Arizona in
December 2010. Id. at 33. Between December 2010 and
January 2011, Plaintiff received four complaints from
passengers and other employees. Doc. 72-2 at 6-19. The
complaints described Plaintiff's “sour
attitude” and “rude” and
“demeaning” behavior, and reported that she was
“harsh, coarse, . . . very unfriendly, ”
“condescending, ” and “hostile.”
Id. at 8, 11, 16. Plaintiff “insult[ed]
[passengers] and their intelligence, ” and
“yelled at [a] woman . . . about the quality of her
English . . . in front of the entire plane.”
Id. at 11. Plaintiff used profane language and
disrespect in an argument with a flight attendant, and was
absent from her post during a shift for an hour and
forty-five minutes, causing her to miss an assigned flight.
Id. at 18. Pursuant to its progressive policy,
Defendant issued Plaintiff a performance level 1 discipline
on January 30, 2011. Doc. 72-2 at 18-19.
February 2011 and April 2011, Plaintiff received four
complaints. Doc. 72-2 at 20-29. She mocked passengers of size
in view of other passengers by holding her arms out and
stomping around (id. at 21), and she
“pounded” on the lavatory door demanding a flight
attendant exit (id. at 23). Plaintiff was rude and
argumentative to several passengers on multiple occasions,
including a passenger traveling with a service dog.
Id. at 25-29. Defendant issued Plaintiff a
performance level 2 discipline on April 22, 2011.
Id. at 31.
May 2011 and April 2012, Plaintiff received at least eleven
complaints. Id. at 33-57. Passengers reported that
she was rude and gave frustrating customer service, and they
expressed doubt about flying with Defendant again because of
their experience with her. Id. at 33-34. One
passenger reported that Plaintiff was “the rudest,
snarkiest, most condescending” employee of
Defendant's that he had “ever encountered in [his
more than five] years of weekly travel.” Id.
at 46. An employee reported an incident when Plaintiff, to a
man with a visible physical impairment, stated:
“you're mumbling and I can't understand you. .
. . Do you mumble all of the time, or is it just for
me?” Id. at 54. Employees and passengers
complained of altercations with Plaintiff, including that she
was “unprofessional, ” “condescending [and]
snide, ” “rude, ” “hostile, ”
“verbally abusive, ” “caustic, ” and
“chew[ed]” out another employee. Id. at
38, 40, 43, 49, 52, 57. Defendant issued Plaintiff a
performance level 3 discipline on April 2, 2012. Id.
at 59. The performance level 3 form advises that additional
issues could result in further discipline or termination, and
Plaintiff signed. Id.
received at least four complaints between April 2012 and June
2012. Doc. 72-3 at 12-24. Plaintiff threatened to kick
passengers off a flight. Doc. 72-3 at 12- 13. She
“rudely scolded [passengers] like children for missing
[their] connecting flight.” Id. at 15-16.
Without explanation, Plaintiff took a carry-on bag from a
passenger to check, and gave him no opportunity to remove
medications that he needed in-flight. Id. at 20-21.
Plaintiff was “rude and negative” to two
employees flying as passengers in a volunteer program, and
made “negative comments” about Defendant in front
of other passengers. Id. at 23.
suspended Plaintiff in June 2012. Id. at 26.
Thereafter, Plaintiff, the Union, and Defendant entered into
a Last Chance Agreement (“LCA”) regarding
Plaintiff's employment. Id. at 28-34. Under the
LCA, Plaintiff agreed she would not violate Defendant's
policies or procedures for twenty-four months, and that a
violation would justify immediate termination. Id.
Plaintiff also agreed to waive any existing claims against
Defendant. Id. at 29-30. Plaintiff returned to work
(Doc. 72-1 at 84), but also filed an Equal Employment
Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) charge of
disability discrimination and retaliation (Doc. 72-3 at 36).
Plaintiff admits she filed the EEOC charge to protect her
employment because she “wanted a clean slate” and
to “expunge” her prior discipline. Doc. 72-1 at
received at least eight complaints between August 2012 and
March 2013. Doc. 72-3 at 40-61. She
“reprimand[ed]” other employees in front of
passengers (id. at 40-41), was
“condescending” to a passenger requesting medical
assistance (id. at 43-44), and was “rude,
impolite, disrespectful, and unhelpful” in response to
a passenger inquiry (id. at 47). When flight issues
arose, Plaintiff suggested to one passenger that he buy a
ticket with a competitor (id. at 51), and she became
“sarcastically defensive” with another
(id. at 53). Plaintiff spoke to another passenger in
“a very abrasive tone, ” was rude in handling the
passenger's issue, and suggested he fly with a
competitor. Id. at 58.
March 15, 2013, Defendant determined that Plaintiff's
actions had violated the terms of the LCA and terminated her
employment. Id. at 61. In total, between
Plaintiff's transfer to Phoenix in December 2010 and her
termination in March 2013, she received at least thirteen
passenger complaints and sixteen employee complaints.
Plaintiff knows of no other employee who received as many
complaints and was not disciplined or terminated. Doc. 72 at
12 ¶ 83; Doc. 74 at 4 ¶ 83.
had a colostomy apparatus when she began working for
Defendant in Phoenix in December 2010. Doc. 72-1 at 71,
81-83. In January 2011, Plaintiff requested - and at some
point Defendant granted - two accommodations: a bypass
through TSA Security at Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport, and a
locker to store medical supplies. Doc. 72-3 at 65, 68.
Plaintiff cites, without explanation, her deposition
testimony indicating she discussed accommodations with one of
Defendant's employees. Doc. 74 at 3 ¶ 65; Doc. 72-1
at 35-36. But she does not dispute Defendant's evidence
that it granted the accommodations. See id.; Doc.