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Simon v. Schlumberger Technology Corporation

United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Lafayette Division

December 19, 2014



PATRICK J. HANNA, Magistrate Judge.

Before the court is the motion for summary judgment filed by Defendant [Rec. Doc. 18] seeking dismissal of the plaintiff's claims against it under the Americans with Disabilities Act. For the reasons set forth below and discussed at oral argument on December 16, 2014, the motion is DENIED.

Facts and Procedural Background:

Plaintiff Kimberly Simon has a college degree in chemical engineering. In July, 2012, she was hired by Schlumberger Technology Corporation ["Schlumberger"] as a field engineer trainee in its drilling and measurements section. She requested no accommodations during the application or interview process.[Rec. Doc. 18-4, p. 26]. She passed a required functional capacity test before beginning her assignment; she again did not ask for any accommodation. [Rec. Doc. 18-4, p. 29]. She was sent for training in Youngsville, Louisiana, including 8 weeks of classroom and on-the-job training. [Rec. Doc. 18-4, p. 43]. The training was designed to prepare participants to pass the entrance examination for admission to the more advanced Schlumberger Learning Center in Houston, Texas.

During her training, Simon came to understand that Schlumberger accommodates employees in need of reasonable accommodations. [Rec. Doc. 18-4, p. 30]. Soon after arriving at the Youngsville training site, she requested a private bathroom in the company-provided housing. [Rec. Doc. 18-4, pp. 35, 40-42]. She disclosed that she had an inflammatory bowel disease (colitis). [Rec. Doc. 18-4, p. 54]. She did not request any accommodation regarding the training course, nor did she notify the employer that her condition impaired her ability to complete the course. Plaintiff was provided with the requested private bathroom. Also during the Youngsville training, Simon asked for time off for doctor's appointments, which were allowed, without adverse consequences. [Rec. Doc. 18-4, pp. 37-38]. As a consequence of her doctor's appointments, Simon's medications were changed in October.

At the end of the training program, the trainees, including Simon, were enrolled in Schlumberger's Learning Center in Houston, Texas. Each was required to pass an entrance exam to continue employment. Trainees who failed the examination on the first try were given a single retest opportunity. [Rec. Doc. 18-4, p. 47]. On leaving Youngsville for Houston, days after her medications had been changed, Simon notified her manager/instructor (Adrian Moss) that she did not feel ready for the exam. She gave no other detail; she did not mention her medical condition or request an accommodation, and she did not ask for medical leave. [Rec. Doc. 18-4, pp. 20, 33, 49, 64-65]. She was encouraged to take practice tests and to study.[Rec. Doc. 18-4, p. 50]. Simon understood that passing the entrance exam was a condition of her employment, an essential function of her position. [Rec. Doc. 18-4, pp. 64, 129].

Once in Houston, Simon requested no accommodation for the exam. [Rec. Doc. 18-4, pp. 64-65, 67]. She failed the entrance examination on her first attempt October 29, 2012. She met with her instructor (Franklin Linares Scarione), and together they identified weakness areas/topics, and they confected an action plan, which Simon signed. [Rec. Doc. 18-3, pp. 18-19]. She was encouraged to ask for help if she had any difficulties or needed assistance. She asked for no accommodation. [Rec. Docs. 18-3, p. 18; 18-4, pp. 67-69]. Simon was reminded that scoring below the pass mark a second time would result in automatic release from the training center. She did not tell her Houston instructors that she was not ready to take the examination or that she needed time off. [Rec. Doc. 18-4, p. 77]. Per Simon, she told no one in Houston that she had colitis; she did not tell her instructor she was on medication. She knew she was going to fail and had given up. [Rec. Doc. 18-4, p. 70].

Simon overslept and arrived one hour late for her second testing, and she was disciplined. She did not request accommodations or otherwise blame her tardiness on a medical condition. [Rec. Doc. 18-4, pp. 71-72]. She failed the examination on her second attempt on October 31, 2012. She was released from the Learning Center and told to report to her direct manager. She again requested no accommodation. Simon signed an acknowledgment that she received a Release Letter from the Learning Center due to her failure to pass the entrance exam on two attempts. On the same date, she acknowledged receipt of a Written Warning regarding her tardiness. [Rec. Doc. 18-3, pp. 16-17]. She met with her instructor again, and she told him she had been really sick. She did not mention colitis or her medications. [Rec. Doc. 18-4, p. 74]. She was told she would be fired. [Rec. Doc. 18-4, p. 76].

On November 1, 2012, Schlumberger's Youngsville Human Resources manager (MaryElizabeth Lackey) learned of Simon's second failure (she also received notice of another trainee's failure). On November 2, 2012, the day she was scheduled to be terminated, Plaintiff emailed her Houston instructor at 12:24 a.m. She told him she had reviewed her study habits and tried to determine what she had done wrong. She concluded that she had not had proper pre-training on a rig or not enough rig time. She referenced her scheduled termination, and she asked for his help. "Tomorrow, November 2nd I am scheduled for my termination at 3 p.m.... NGC has a no tolerance policy for school failures. When someone fails they are fired, no exceptions." [Rec. Doc. 18-5, p. 6].

Per company policy and as scheduled, Plaintiff met with HR Manager Lackey on November 2, 2012. Her instructor Adrian Moss was also present. Plaintiff knew she would be terminated because of the two exam failures. On this date, Plaintiff notified the manager for the first time that she was sick, and she requested accommodation-to take the exam a third time after she controlled her medical condition. [Rec. Doc. 18-4, pp. 53, 107]. The termination was temporarily delayed so that Plaintiff could access and complete Schlumberger's ADA Accommodation paperwork, including documents to be completed by her healthcare provider. [Rec. Doc. 18-3, pp. 21-26]. Simon testified that she "never really looked at what she handed me. To be honest, I just took it, gave it to my doctor. I never read through it." [Rec. Doc. 18-4, p. 79]. According to Simon,

A. I do not recall. I do remember that he was-they were confused by it and they didn't know what to say. And I was also confused because I said-what I told him was, I guess they need to know that I can do this job just with medication. That's what I told her because I can physically do the job, but I was scared that if they put anything otherwise, that I would be fired because I can't physically do the job. So I said-I remember she told me she was confused by it, and then that's what I told her. [Rec. Doc. 18-4, p. 81].
A. I said that-I said: From my understanding, I said, she just needs to know that I do have a medical condition, but that I can physically ...

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