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Hinson v. Concordia Parish School Board

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

September 27, 2018

BOBBIE HINSON
v.
CONCORDIA PARISH SCHOOL BOARD

          PEREZ-MONTES MAG. JUDGE.

          MEMORANDUM RULING

          DEE D. DRELL, UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT.

         Before the court is a motion for summary judgment (Doc. 18) filed on behalf of defendant, Concordia Parish School Board ("Concordia"), seeking dismissal of all claims by Plaintiff against it in the above-captioned suit. For the reasons expressed herein, the court finds that Concordia's motion should be GRANTED and, accordingly, all claims by Plaintiff against Concordia should be denied and dismissed with prejudice.

         I. Background

         A. Relevant Facts

         Plaintiff, Bobbie Hinson ("Plaintiff or "Hinson"), was employed by Concordia beginning in 1985, as an elementary school teacher. (Doc. 20 at p. 1). Hinson attained promotions to Assistant Principal and, in 2011, to Principal of Ferriday Lower Elementary ("FLE"). (Id.) Plaintiff retired from her position as Principal at FLE in June of 2015. (Id. at p. 7).

         Thereafter, Hinson filed a charge of disability discrimination with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). (Doc. 1 at ¶ V). Hinson received "Notice of Right to Sue" from the EEOC on or about May 23, 2016 and filed the instant suit on July 8, 2016. (Id.) Plaintiff asserts that she gave the requisite 30-day notice to Concordia of her intent to sue as required under LSA-R.S. 23:303(C). (Id.).

         Plaintiff's complaint asserts disparate treatment claims under the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA") (42 U.S.C. §§ 12102, et seq) and the Louisiana Employment Discrimination Law ("LEDL") (La. R.S. §§ 23:301, et seq). Plaintiffs claims are based upon allegations that, though her employer knew that she suffered from a disability under applicable law, a condition affecting her left foot, she was constructively discharged in violation of the ADA and LEDL. Specifically, Plaintiff alleges that she was offered an early retirement after 29 years of employment and when she declined such offer, she was informed that she would be transferred to a less-desirable, more physically-demanding school for the upcoming 2015-16 school year. (Doc. 1 at ¶¶ XVI - XVII). Plaintiff claims that she met with her supervisor, Superintendent Dr. Paul Nelson, and informed him that, because of her disability, she was unable to fulfill the duties of Principal at Ferriday Junior High ("FJH"), where she was to be transferred. (Id. at ¶ XIX). According to Hinson, Dr. Nelson disregarded her pleas to remain at FLE. (Id. at ¶¶ XIX - XX). In late May, 2015, Plaintiff requested and was granted medical leave from June 1, 2015 until August, 2015, which Plaintiff supported by letter from her physician, Dr. Dennis LaRavia. (Id. at ¶¶ XXI - XXII). Hinson avers that her repeated requests to remain at FLE, where she was able to fulfill her responsibilities with "reasonable accommodations," were denied and she was replaced as Principal by another employee who was not disabled. (Id. at ¶ XXIV).

         Defendant Concordia now moves for summary judgment on the basis that Plaintiffs claims fail because she is unable to establish a prima facie case under either the ADA or LEDL. (Doc. 18). We analyze the arguments and evidence offered by the parties below.

         B. APPLICABLE STANDARD

         A court "shall grant summary judgment if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). A dispute of material fact is genuine if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party. See Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). "We consider all evidence 'in the light most favorable to the party resisting the motion.'" Seacor Holdings, Inc. v. Commonwealth Ins. Co., 635 F.3d 675, 680 quoting Trevino v. Celanese Corp., 701 F.2d 397, 407 (5th Cir. 1983). However, the non-moving party does not establish a genuine dispute with '"some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts,' by 'conclusory allegations,' by 'unsubstantiated assertions,' or by only a 'scintilla' of evidence." Little v. Liquid Air Corp., 37 F.3d 1069, 1075 (5th Cir. 1994) (citations omitted). It is important to note that the standard for a summary judgment is two-fold: (1) there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact, and (2) the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.

         II. ANALYSIS

         Plaintiffs claims arise under the ADA and its Louisiana law counterpart, the LEDL. Claims under both statutes are analyzed using the framework of federal employment discrimination jurisprudence. Bell v. Hercules Liftboat Co., LLC, 524 Fed.Appx. 64 (5th Cir. 2013); Baker v. FedEx Ground Package System, Inc., 278 Fed.Appx. 322 (5th Cir. 2008) citing Smith v. Amedisys, Inc., 298 F.3d 434, 448 (5th Cir. 2002).

         The ADA provides protection against discrimination in employment because of disability for qualified individuals. 42 U.S.C. § 12112. As a threshold requirement, the Plaintiff must show that she is disabled within the meaning of the ADA, which defines "disability" as "a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more of the major life activities of such individual." Plaintiff may, alternatively, show that she established a record of her alleged impairment or that she was regarded as having such ...


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