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Callais v. United Rentals North America, Inc.

United States District Court, M.D. Louisiana

October 19, 2017

PHILIP CALLAIS
v.
UNITED RENTALS NORTH AMERICA, INC

          RULING AND ORDER

          BRIAN A. JACKSON, UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT CHIEF JUDGE

         Before the Court is the Motion to Dismiss (Doc. 4) filed by Defendant United Rentals North America, Inc. Plaintiff Philip A. Callais filed an opposition (Doc. 9), and Defendant filed a reply. (Doc. 17). For the following reasons the Motion to Dismiss (Doc. 4) is GRANTED IN PART and DENIED IN PART.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiffs lawsuit stems from alleged discrimination, harassment, and retaliation that he suffered because he is a veteran who suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder ("PTSD"). (Doc. 12 at ¶ 3). He also alleges that he has an arterial blockage in his legs. Id. Plaintiff alleges that Defendant hired him on September 30, 2013, to serve as a truck driver. Id. Plaintiff alleges that his PTSD causes him to suffer from sleep deprivation and causes him to "spook" easily. Id. at ¶ 5, 18. He also alleges that he takes blood thinners and that it is difficult to be in the sun. Id. at ¶ 47.

         Plaintiff alleges that in November 2013, a non-veteran without a disability and with less experience was allowed to drive trucks before him, while Plaintiff had to continue "working in the yard." Id. at ¶ 10. It is not clear from Plaintiffs Complaint exactly what "working in the yard" entails but the Court infers that it involves work such as loading trucks. Plaintiff also alleges that because the Defendant refused to allow him to drive, while allowing a non-veteran to drive a truck, he filed a charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity ("EEOC") on February 20, 2014. Id. at ¶ 10-11. He alleges that he was then subjected to "retaliatory scrutiny of his job performance." Id. at ¶ 10-11. Plaintiff alleges that other non-veterans were better trained, given more time off and their orders were "respected" while his were overlooked. Id. at ¶ 16, 41, 47. He also claims that he told a supervisor about his PTSD but "[h]e would not stay on subject when plaintiff talked about being afforded a reasonable accommodation." Id. at ¶ 20. Plaintiff alleges that he was terminated on July 11, 2016, because of his disability, veteran status, and because he engaged in protected activity. Id. at ¶ 51 and Doc. 1-4. Plaintiff then filed a charge of discrimination on September 8, 2016 with the EEOC and the Louisiana Commission on Human Rights ("LCHR"). (Doc. 1-4). The LCHR issued Plaintiff a right to sue letter on April 21, 2017. (Doc. 1-3). Plaintiff filed suit on May 16, 2017. (Doc. 1).

         Plaintiff claims that Defendant is liable under: (1) the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA") by engaging in disability discrimination; (2) the ADA by engaging in retaliation; (3) the ADA for failure to provide reasonable accommodations; (4) the Louisiana Employment Discrimination Law ("LEDL"), La. R.S. 23:323, by engaging in disability discrimination; (5) the LEDL by engaging in retaliation; (6) the LEDL for failure to provide reasonable accommodations; (7) the LEDL for discrimination, retaliation, and harassment, on the basis of veteran status; (8) Louisiana's Whistleblower Act, La. R.S. 23:967; and (9) Louisiana's Civil Rights Act for Handicapped Persons, La. R.S. 46:2251. (Doc. 12 at ¶ 50).

         On July 19, 2017, Defendant filed a motion to dismiss. (Doc. 4). Plaintiff then filed an Amended Complaint on September 17, 2017. (Doc. 12). Plaintiffs added two allegations in his Amended Complaint. First, he alleges that "[t]he entirety of facts and circumstances to which the defendant subjected the plaintiff constituted a hostile work environment." Id. at ¶ 48. Second, he alleges that Defendant terminated him because of his disability, veteran status, and because he engaged in protected activity. Id. at ¶ 51. Defendant asserts that the Amended Complaint is substantially similar to the original Complaint, and therefore its Motion to Dismiss applies equally to the Amended Complaint. (Doc. 17).

         II. LEGAL STANDARD

         A motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) tests the sufficiency of the complaint against the legal standard set forth in Rule 8, which requires "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Rule 8(a)(2). "To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain 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 Ail. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). "Determining whether a complaint states a plausible claim for relief [is] . . . a context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense." Ashcroft, 556 U.S. at 679.

         "[F]acial plausibility" exists "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. at 678 (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). Hence, the complaint need not set out "detailed factual allegations, " but something "more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action" is required. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. When conducting its inquiry, the Court "accepts all well-pleaded facts as true and views those facts in the light most favorable to the plaintiff." Bustos v. Martini Club Inc., 599 F.3d 458, 461 (5th Cir. 2010) (quotation marks omitted).

         III. DISCUSSION

         A. ADA and LEDL Claims

         I. Disability Discrimination

         Plaintiff claims that Defendant violated the ADA and the LEDL by engaging in unlawful discrimination. (Doc. 12 at ¶ 50). Discrimination claims brought under the LEDL are analyzed under the same framework as ADA claims. Baker v. FedEx Ground Package Sys. Inc.,278 Fed.Appx. 322, 327 (5th Cir. 2008) (citing Smith v. Amedisys, Inc., 298 F.3d 434, 448 (5th Cir. 2002). "To establish a prima facie discrimination claim under the ADA, a plaintiff must prove: (1) that he has a disability; (2) that he was qualified for the job; [and] (3) that he was subject to an adverse employment decision on account of his ...


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