United States District Court, M.D. Louisiana
RULING AND ORDER
A. JACKSON, CHIEF JUDGE
the Court is the Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc.
27) filed by Defendants the State of Louisiana,
through Department of Public Safety and Corrections, Division
of Probation and Parole ("P&P") and Secretary
James LeBlanc. The Motion is unopposed. The Court has
jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1331. For the following
reasons, the Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc.
27) is GRANTED.
following facts are undisputed. On July 16, 2007, Plaintiff Leigh
Laney began working at P&P in the position of
"Administrative Coordinator 3." (Doc. 27-2 at
¶ 1). As an Administrative Coordinator, Plaintiff was
responsible for a variety of administrative duties including
answering phones, fingerprinting offenders, filing documents,
inputting data on a computer, and driving a state vehicle for
trips to headquarters or court. (Id. at ¶ 2).
Plaintiff s job duties required that she be able to sit and
stand for prolonged periods of time. (Id.).
Depending on the assigned task, Plaintiff was required to
complete clerical tasks within 1-2 days. (Id. at
2009, Plaintiffs productivity began to diminish.
(Id., at ¶ 7). Plaintiff also began taking
leave so frequently that she often did not have leave to take
and was placed on leave without pay. (Id.).
Plaintiffs immediate supervisor, Georgiana Guthrie, and other
supervisors met on at least three occasions to discuss and
adjust Plaintiffs workload and duties because she was not
performing her work or not completing it in a timely manner.
(Doc. 27-2 at ¶ 8).
2012, Plaintiffs supervisor implemented a work plan to help
get Plaintiff caught up on work. (Id. at ¶ 9).
However, despite the work plan, Plaintiff still fell behind.
(Id.). Then in August 2013, P&P approved
Plaintiffs FMLA for "fibromyalgia and a lump in her
breast." (Id. at ¶ 10). Plaintiff never
requested any other accommodations for her conditions. (Doc.
27-2 at ¶ 11). However, even following her FMLA leave,
Plaintiff often took leave for conditions that were not her
FMLA approved conditions. (Id. at ¶ 10).
Thereafter, in November 2013, P&P gave Plaintiff a Letter
of Improvement regarding her abuse of leave. (Id. at
¶ 12). In the letter, P&P explained its leave
policies, placed Plaintiff on a leave directive,
directed her to inform her immediate supervisor anytime she
was unable to report to work. (Id.).
February 5, 2014, Plaintiff contacted a supervisor to report
that she was having car trouble and would not be at work.
(Id. at ¶ 13). On February 10th, Guthrie gave
Plaintiff a letter stating that she would not be granted
leave for February 5th to get her car repaired because it did
not qualify as an emergency, as required by the Letter of
Improvement. (Id.). Initially, Plaintiff was given
eight hours of leave without pay for February 5th. (Doc. 27-2
at ¶ 13). However, the letter given to Plaintiff was
revised because Plaintiff had previously been approved to
leave work at 1:30pm for a doctor's appointment related
to one of her FMLA conditions. (Id.). Plaintiff was
granted three hours of sick leave/FMLA leave for her
doctor's appointment and five hours of leave without pay
for her car repair. (Id.).
the month of February 2014, Plaintiff was on FMLA leave on
four consecutive days, which prompted the need for Plaintiff
to have an Essential Functions Form completed and submitted
by her doctor. (Id. at ¶ 14). On March 7,
2014, Plaintiff submitted a checklist, which she completed
herself, and an Essential Job Functions Statement that her
doctor, Dr. Scott Nyboer, completed and signed on February
27, 2014. (Id.), On the checklist, Plaintiff
indicated that she was either unable or unwilling to stand,
bend and reach, lift and climb to file, as well as sit or
stand for extended periods of time. (Id.). In the
Essential Job Functions Statement, Dr. Nyboer indicated that
Plaintiff needed "to be allowed to be off work if her
pain is flai'ed up which occurs intermittently 1-2 times
per month for about 2-3 days length of time. [Plaintiff] also
need[ed] to continue with light duty restrictions."
April 3, 2014, per Department policy, Plaintiff was placed on
enforced FMLA (sick leave) due to the March 7, Essential
Functions checklist received by Human Resources
("HR"). (Doe. 27-2 at ¶¶ 15-16). The
enforced FMLA (sick leave) was to remain in effect until the
Essential Functions Form was completed by Plaintiffs doctor
and it could be determined whether Plaintiff was able to
perform the essential functions of her job and return to
work. (Id. at ¶ 16).
8, 2014, six weeks after Plaintiff was placed on enforced
FMLA, Plaintiff submitted the Essential Functions Form,
completed entirely by Dr. Nyboer. (Id. at ¶
20). The form provided that Plaintiff was unable to
"stand, bend and reach, lift and climb to file or
retrieve information/documents" or "sit or stand
for extended periods of time, " and that the following
accommodations were required: "light duty restrictions,
no lifting > 25 lbs, limit prolonged standing or
sitting." (Id. at ¶ 21).
time this May 8, 2014, request for accommodation was made by
Plaintiffs doctor, she already developed a pattern of falling
behind on the limited tasks assigned to her. (Id. at
¶ 22). Plaintiff nor her doctor provided any specific
suggestions on how to accommodate these restrictions.
(Id.). P&P could identify no other duties that
Plaintiff could perform given the nature of her illness.
(Id.). Plaintiff could not have worked from home
because her job duties, such as filing in the closed file
room and agents' offices, fingerprinting offenders,
accessing the district files even by computer, required that
Plaintiff perform her assignments in the office. (Id.,
). When offered a modified work schedule that allowed
her to report to work early, stay late or work on the
weekends to catch up on her duties, Plaintiff rarely took
advantage of the modified schedule. (Id.).
2, 2014, Plaintiff exhausted her FMLA leave and exhausted her
sick leave while she was on FMLA leave. (Id. at
¶ 24). The next day, Defendants sent Plaintiff a
pre-termination review letter outlining a proposed
termination. (Doc. 27-2 at ¶ 25). The letter gave
Plaintiff until June 13th to respond why she should not be
terminated. (Id.). Plaintiff faxed a handwritten
response on June 12th, which did not address the essential
functions issues nor did it suggest any solutions that might
help Plaintiff perform the essential functions of her
18, 2014, Defendants sent another letter to Plaintiff
indicating that she would be terminated effective July 2,
2014, for non-disciplinary reasons. (Id. at ¶
26). The non-disciplinary termination was in accordance with
Louisiana Civil Service Rule 12.6, which provides that an
employee may be non-disciplinarily removed if "the
employee is unable to perform the essential functions of his
job due to illness or medical disability and has fewer than
eight hours of sick leave." (Id.).
August 22, 2014, Plaintiff filed a charge with the Equal
Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). On
December 18, 2015, Plaintiff filed suit against P&P.
(Doc. 1). On April 7, 2016, Plaintiff amended her suit to
clarify her claims and added Secretary James LeBlanc, as a
Defendant. (Doc. 10). Plaintiff seeks damages and injunctive
relief against P&P and Secretary LeBlanc under the
Rehabilitation Act, as ...