United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana
ORDER AND REASONS
J. BARBIER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
the Court is a Motion for Summary Judgment
(Rec. Doc. 102) submitted by Defendant,
Unitech Training Academy, Inc. (“Unitech”).
Plaintiff, Andrea Tucker, filed an out-of-time opposition
(Rec. Doc. 115) to which Defendant replied (Rec. Doc. 121).
The docket reflects that after Plaintiff filed her untimely
opposition, Plaintiff asked for an extension of time to file
opposition. The Court granted Plaintiff until January 9,
2019, to do so. Plaintiff then filed a second opposition with
accompanying exhibits. (Rec. Doc. 122). Having considered the
Motion, the memoranda, the record, and the law, the Court
finds that the Motion should be GRANTED.
AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
central dispute in this case is a wrongful termination claim
brought by an administrative medical assistant instructor
against her employer, Unitech. Plaintiff began teaching at
Unitech on August 18, 2014. Before joining Unitech, Plaintiff
advised Defendant that she would need to take off time in
late August for a gastric bypass surgery she had already
scheduled. Ms. Tucker weighed 390 pounds at the time.
Plaintiff had the bypass surgery on August 29, 2014, and she
was back to work on September 2, 2014. It is undisputed
that at the time Plaintiff was hired, all parties were
unconcerned that Ms. Tucker's weight or her surgery would
affect her job performance.
suggests that her weight did limit her ability to perform her
job later, however, due the conduct of her supervisors.
Plaintiff's complaint is not a model of clarity, but the
Court understands Plaintiff to allege that she stopped
receiving ink for the printer in her classroom, which made it
necessary for Plaintiff to retrieve printed classroom
materials from a printing room in another part of her
building. When the elevators at Unitech's campus stopped
working for an unspecified amount of time, Plaintiff was
required to walk up and down several flights of stairs
multiple times a day. Due to Plaintiff's obesity, she
alleges she had to take multiple breaks in the stairwell to
catch her breath as she traveled to and from the printing
room. Plaintiff alleges these trips caused her severe pain
and cut into the time she was supposed be teaching her
class. She claims she complained to Unitech's
Campus Director, Michelle Hammothe, that she needed ink for
the printer in her classroom, but her request was
denied. This denial evidently led Plaintiff to
begin communicating with Unitech's IT personnel, from
whom Plaintiff alleges she learned that a glitch in the
academy's software was causing students to be marked as
“graduated” without completion of all the modules
in the curriculum.
fails to attach specific dates to most of her allegations,
but she does allege that in January of 2015, a corporate
representative of Unitech came to her classroom to address
her complaints regarding the printing situation as well as
students' complaints regarding the software that the
students used to complete the modules. Plaintiff alleges this
unnamed representative advised Plaintiff and her class that
Unitech had sufficient funds for ink and allegedly ordered
“the Director, ” who was also present, to purchase
ink for the classroom. On January 23, 2015, after a conference
between Michelle Hammothe and Unitech's Director of
Education, Alana Farrazin, Plaintiff was
terminated. Plaintiff claims in her amended complaint
that her termination was an act of retaliation by Hammothe
and Sarrazin for reporting their scheme to embezzle funds
from Unitech that had been appropriated by the school for
supplies-ink, the Court presumes.
filed this suit on December 28, 2015. Plaintiff alleges
claims pursuant to Title VII, the Americans with Disabilities
Act, 42 U.S.C. § 1983, 42 U.S.C. § 1986, as well as
various state law claims for wrongful termination and
intentional infliction of emotional distress.
judgment is appropriate when “the pleadings, the
discovery and disclosure materials on file, and any
affidavits show that there is no genuine issue as to any
material fact and that the movant is entitled to judgment as
a matter of law.” Celotex Corp. v. Catrett,
477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986) (citing Fed.R.Civ.P. 56); Little
v. Liquid Air Corp., 37 F.3d 1069, 1075 (5th Cir. 1994).
When assessing whether a dispute as to any material fact
exists, a court considers “all of the evidence in the
record but refrains from making credibility determinations or
weighing the evidence.” Delta & Pine Land Co.
v. Nationwide Agribusiness Ins. Co., 530 F.3d 395, 398
(5th Cir. 2008). All reasonable inferences are drawn in favor
of the nonmoving party, but a party cannot defeat summary
judgment with conclusory allegations or unsubstantiated
assertions. Little, 37 F.3d at 1075. A court
ultimately must be satisfied that “a reasonable jury
could not return a verdict for the nonmoving party.”
Delta, 530 F.3d at 399.
dispositive issue is one on which the moving party will bear
the burden of proof at trial, the moving party “must
come forward with evidence which would ‘entitle it to a
directed verdict if the evidence went uncontroverted at
trial.'” Int'l Shortstop, Inc. v.
Rally's, Inc., 939 F.2d 1257, 1264-65 (5th Cir.
1991). The nonmoving party can then defeat the motion by
either countering with sufficient evidence of its own, or
“showing that the moving party's evidence is so
sheer that it may not persuade the reasonable fact-finder to
return a verdict in favor of the moving party.”
Id. at 1265.
dispositive issue is one on which the nonmoving party will
bear the burden of proof at trial, the moving party may
satisfy its burden by merely pointing out that the evidence
in the record is insufficient with respect to an essential
element of the nonmoving party's claim. See
Celotex, 477 U.S. at 325. The burden then shifts to the
nonmoving party, who must, by submitting or referring to
evidence, set out specific facts showing that a genuine issue
exists. See Id. at 324. The nonmovant may not rest
upon the pleadings but must identify specific facts that
establish a genuine issue for trial. See, e.g.,
id. at 325, Little, 37 F.3d at 1075.
Plaintiff alleges many different causes of action, the
underlying allegation that drives this litigation is that
Plaintiff's Unitech supervisors fired her as retaliation
for asking for ink for the printer in her classroom. This is
a federal case, says Plaintiff, because the ink was a
necessary accommodation of her disability. She is disabled by
her obesity, she says, because she becomes winded when
traveling up and down flights of stairs.
confuses things a bit by positing other motivations for
retaliation by her supervisors. She claims her decision to
ask for more printer's ink uncovered a scheme by Hammothe
and Sarrazin to defraud the school of its ink money. She also
suggests they fired her out of revenge for reporting software
issues to Unitech's corporate officers. Plaintiff
provides absolutely no evidence of these allegations and she
admits in her deposition testimony that they are based on
“pure speculation.” Summary judgment is appropriate
on any claim based upon these unsupported allegations.
Plaintiff's Title ...