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Glass v. AsicNorth Inc.

United States District Court, D. Arizona

November 19, 2019

Kevin W Glass, Plaintiff,
AsicNorth Incorporated, Defendant.



         Before the Court is ASIC North's motion for summary judgment, which is fully briefed. (Docs. 43, 46, 49, 56).[1] ASIC North's motion for summary judgment is granted, as described below.

         I. Background

         This case arises from Plaintiff Kevin Glass's employment and termination at ASIC North. Mr. Glass began employment as a Senior Circuit Design Engineer with ASIC North, a design house and staffing company, on January 12, 2016. (Doc. 43-10 at 2.) On May 18, 2016, Integrated Circuit Design Manager Jeff Jorvig issued a written warning to Mr. Glass, citing performance concerns. (Doc. 43-14.) This written warning placed Mr. Glass on a 30-day Performance Improvement Plan (“PIP”). The PIP assigned Mr. Glass an engineering project and laid out daily milestones. (Id.) Mr. Glass's managers reviewed his progress weekly to monitor his improvement in the ability to reliably hit project markers, communicate with the team to resolve technical questions, recognize and respect the advice of team leads, improve his attitude and professionalism, document and present technical data, and perform at senior level. (Id. at 2.) The PIP specified that Mr. Glass was required to comply with the PIP and demonstrate immediate improvement or face termination. (Id.) Upon receipt of the written warning, Mr. Glass contacted Judy Stroh of Human Resources to dispute it. (Doc. 43-2 at 2.)

         On May 20, 2016, Mr. Glass filed two charges of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”), alleging discrimination based on disability. (Doc. 43-9 at 2.) Neither the human resources department nor anyone else at ASIC North had any records indicating that Mr. Glass had a disability prior to receiving the charge. (Docs. 43-2; 43-5.) Around June 9, 2016, Mr. Glass requested ergonomic improvements to his work area to help with stress issues on his hands, wrists and forearms. (Doc. 43-6 at 2.) On June 21, 2016, Chris Hughes evaluated Mr. Glass's work station and gave him a replacement chair. (Doc. 43-24 at 1.) Mr. Glass, noting continued issues in his wrists, requested an under the desk pull out keyboard tray. (Id.) ASIC North ordered such a tray on June 28, 2016. (Doc. 43-20 at 2.) However, ASIC North terminated Mr. Glass effective June 30, 2016, citing Mr. Glass's continued substandard performance. (Doc. 43-18 at 2.)

         Mr. Glass filed a second charge of discrimination on December 23, 2016, alleging discrimination based on retaliation, disability, and age. (Doc. 43-8.) His charge also asserts that ASIC North employees, since his termination, have given unfavorable references to prospective employers, thereby interfering with his ability to obtain permanent employment. (Id.) Mr. Glass filed his complaint in this Court on March 21, 2018. (Doc. 1.) The complaint asserts claims for disability discrimination and retaliation in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) under 42 U.S.C. §§ 12112 and 12203(a), and for tortious interference with business expectancy. On April 16, 2019, ASIC North filed its motion for summary judgment, which is now ripe.

         II. Legal Standard

         Summary judgment is appropriate when there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and, viewing those facts in a light most favorable to the nonmoving party, the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). A fact is material if it might affect the outcome of the case, and a dispute is genuine if a reasonable jury could find for the nonmoving party based on the competing evidence. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986); Villiarimo v. Aloha Island Air, Inc., 281 F.3d 1054, 1061 (9th Cir. 2002). Summary judgment may also be entered “against a party who fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case, and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial.” Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986).

         The party seeking summary judgment “bears the initial responsibility of informing the district court of the basis for its motion, and identifying those portions of [the record] which it believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact.” Id. at 323. The burden then shifts to the non-movant to establish the existence of a genuine and material factual dispute. Id. at 324. The non-movant “must do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts[, ]” and instead “come forward with specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.” Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586-87 (1986) (internal quotation and citation omitted).

         III. Analysis

         The Court will address each of Mr. Glass's claims, in turn.

         A. Disability Discrimination in Violation of § 12112

         The McDonnell Douglas burden-shifting framework applies to claims brought under the ADA. Snead v. Metro. Prop. Cas. Ins. Co., 237 F.3d 1080, 1093 (9th Cir. 2003). Under this framework, Mr. Glass must first establish a prima facie case of discrimination. If he adequately establishes a presumption of discrimination, the burden shifts to ASIC North to articulate a legitimate, non-discriminatory reason for its adverse employment action. If ASIC North satisfies this burden, Mr. Glass must then offer evidence that ASIC North's advanced reason constitutes mere pretext. Aragon v. Republic Silver State Disposal, 292 F.3d 654, 658-59 (9th Cir. 2002) (citing McDonnell Douglas Corp. v. Green, 411 U.S. 792, 802 (1973)).

         In order to establish a prima facie case of discrimination under the ADA, “[Mr.] Glass needs to show that (1) he is disabled under the Act; (2) he is qualified to perform essential functions of his job; and (3) that he suffered an adverse employment action because of his disability.” Glass v. Intel Corp., No. CV-06-1404-PHX-MHM, 2009 WL 649787, at *5 ...

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