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JENKINS-ALLEN v. POWELL DUFFRYN TERMINALS

August 19, 1998

EXIE JENKINS-ALLEN, Plaintiff,
v.
POWELL DUFFRYN TERMINALS, INC., Defendant.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: BUCKLO

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

 Plaintiff, Exie Jenkins-Allen, filed suit against defendant, Powell Duffryn Terminals, Inc. ("Powell"), alleging race discrimination in violation of Title VII, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq., and 42 U.S.C. § 1981, sex discrimination and retaliation in violation of Title VII, and disability discrimination in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"), 42 U.S.C. § 12101 et seq. Powell moves for summary judgment on all claims. For the reasons set forth below, Powell's motion is granted in part and denied in part.

 Background

 The undisputed facts in this case are as follows. Ms. Jenkins-Allen was hired by Powell as a seasonal employee on September 7, 1993. (12(M) St. P 5). She was subsequently laid off and then recalled on June 23, 1994. (Id.) On December 29, 1994 she became a full-time employee in the "Utility" job classification. (Id.)

 In March, 1995, Ms. Jenkins-Allen indicated to Ron Wright, her supervisor, that she hurt her wrists. (Id. P 7). Mr. Wright sent her to the Southwest Industrial Clinic (the "Clinic"). (Id.) That same day, she returned to work with light duty restrictions which were honored until May 25, 1995 when she began a workers' compensation leave of absence as a result of her injury. (Id. PP 7, 9).

 During the leave of absence, Ms. Jenkins-Allen had carpal tunnel release surgery on her right arm on May 31, 1995 and surgery on her left arm in October, 1995. (Id. P 10). Between the surgeries, she bid for a filler operator position that Powell posted on June 6, 1995. (Id. P 11). Powell wanted to fill the position as soon as possible and did not give Ms. Jenkins-Allen the position because she was on a leave of absence. (Id.) She did not return to work until January, 1996, after she was released to regular work without restriction on December 28, 1995. (Id. P 12).

 Upon Ms. Jenkins-Allen's return to work she began training as a forklift driver on January 18, 1996. (Id. P 13). The standard training time for forklift drivers is three months. (Id.) She became a forklift driver on May 6. 1996, having received two additional weeks of training. (Id.)

 On February 9, 1996, Ms. Jenkins-Allen filed a charge of discrimination ("February 9 Charge"). (Id. P 14). She alleged that Powell discriminated against her on the basis of her race and sex by (1) providing her with insufficient training and (2) failing to promote her to the filler operator position.

 On April 25, 1996, Ms. Jenkins-Allen complained of pain in both hands while she was working on a production line. (Id. P 15). She went to the Clinic and returned that same day with light duty restrictions. (Id.) She should "avoid fast-moving machinery" and "no pulling, pushing, grasping--fine manipulative work with hands." (12(M) St. Ex. D, April 25, 1996 Clinic Progress Report; 12(N) Resp. P 15). The restrictions were clarified on April 29, 1996 as follows: "Ms. Allen may do fork lift driving without restrictions. She does not have a lifting restriction in regard to weight. She should avoid repetitive work, regardless of weight, for more than 1-2 hours per day." (12 (M) St. P 16, Ex. D, April 29, 1996 Letter from Dr. Yen; 12(N) Resp. P 16).

 On June 5, 1996, Ms. Jenkins-Allen again complained of pain in her upper neck, back, and both hands. (12 (M) St. P 18). She was sent to the Clinic and returned to work that same day under the same light duty restrictions outlined on April 29, 1996. (Id.)

 On July 5, 1996, at 7:00 a.m., Ms. Jenkins-Allen found her forklift between two rows of finished product. (Id. P 21). She contacted the Operations Manager, Randy Richmond, to inform him that her forklift was not in its proper place and was out of gas. (Id.) Mr. Richmond immediately filled her forklift with gas and drove it from between the rows of finished product. (Id.) Ms. Jenkins-Allen returned to work. (Id. P 22).

 At approximately 9:00 a.m. that same day, Ms. Jenkins-Allen told Mr. Wright that she was not feeling well. (Id. P 23). Mr. Wright allowed her to go home and informed Mr. Malec of that fact. (Id.) Ms. Jenkins-Allen called Mr. Wright on July 8 and 9, 1996, stating that she would not be in to work because she was going to the doctor. (Id. P 25). On July 10, 1996, she called her other supervisor, Tim Burke, and stated that she would not be reporting to work. (Id. P 28). Both supervisors informed Mr. Malec of the calls. (Id. PP 25, 28).

 During the same period, Ms. Jenkins-Allen called the President of Powell, Tony Tucker, to inform him of the "harassment" at Powell. (Id. P 26). Mr. Malec called her at home to find out why she was trying to reach the President. (Id. P 27). The parties dispute what was said during that conversation.

 On July 11, 1996, Ms. Jenkins-Allen filed a second charge of discrimination ("July 11 Charge"). (Id. P 30). She alleged that she was discriminated against on the basis of her race when Powell failed to investigate damage to her work vehicle on July 5, 1996. She further alleged that she was threatened with discharge in retaliation for filing her February 9 Charge.

 On July 15, 1996, a meeting was held with Ms. Jenkins-Allen, her union representative, Ed O'Donnell, Mr. Malec, and Mr. Richmond. (Id. P 32). Mr. Malec stated that he had received three different stories about her absence from work: she was sick, she was harassed, she was injured on the job and on workers' compensation. (Id.) Another meeting was held on July 16, 1995 and at that time, Ms. Jenkins-Allen was advised that there were problems with her numerous and contradictory justifications for her absence and with her failure to immediately report her alleged injury as required by the company's rules and procedures. (Id. P 33). On July 19, 1996, Ms. Jenkins-Allen was terminated. (Id. P 34). She filed a charge of discrimination on August 6, 1996 ("August 6 Charge") alleging disability discrimination and retaliation. (Id. P 35). She stated that Powell ...


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