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STEVENS v. UNITED PARCEL SERVICE

April 9, 2003

VERNICE R. STEVENS, PLAINTIFF,
v.
UNITED PARCEL SERVICE, INC., DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Charles P. Kocoras, Chief United States District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION

This matter is before the court on Defendant United Parcel Service, Inc.'s ("UPS") partial motion to dismiss. For the reasons stated below we grant the motion in part and deny the motion in part.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff Vernice Stevens ("Stevens") claims to have injured her back, neck, and head while working for UPS as a package handler in January 1998. She alleges that, because of the work-related injury, she is permanently restricted to lifting no more than twenty pounds. After her injury Stevens was allegedly unable to perform the tasks required of a package handler and she requested that she be assigned to a light duty position. UPS refused to reassign Stevens and terminated her employment in January 2001. Stevens claims that she was not notified of her termination and did not realize that she was terminated by UPS until January 2002. In her complaint Stevens alleges that UPS discriminated against her because of her race in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq ("Title VII"), 42 U.S.C. § 1981 ("Section 1981"), and 42 U.S.C. § 1983 ("Section 1983"). She also alleges that UPS terminated her employment and failed to accommodate her alleged disability in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 ("ADA"), 42 U.S.C. § 12101 et seq.

LEGAL STANDARD

The purpose of a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss is to test the legal sufficiency of the complaint. Gibson v. City of Chicago, 910 F.2d 1510, 1520 (7th Cir. 1990). In ruling on a motion to dismiss, the court must draw all reasonable inferences that favor the plaintiff, construe the allegations of the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff; and accept as true all well-pleaded facts and allegations in the complaint Bontkowski v. First Nat'l Bank of Cicero, 998 F.2d 459, 461 (7th Cir. 1993); Perkins v. Silverstein, 939 F.2d 463, 466 (7th Cir. 1991). The allegations of a complaint "should not be dismissed for a failure to state a claim unless it appears beyond doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of his claim which would entitle him to relief." Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 45-46 (1957). Nonetheless, in order to withstand a motion to dismiss, a complaint must allege the "operative facts" upon which each claim is based. Kyle v. Morton High School, 144 F.3d 448, 454-55 (7th Cir. 1998). The plaintiff need not allege all of the facts involved in the claim and can plead conclusions. Higgs v. Carter, 286 F.3d 437, 439 (7th Cir. 2002); Kyle, 144 F.3d at 455. However, any conclusions pled must "provide the defendant with at least minimal notice of the claim," id., and the plaintiff cannot satisfy federal pleading requirements merely "by attaching bare legal conclusions to narrated facts which fail to outline the bases" of his claim. Perkins, 939 F.2d at 466-67.

DISCUSSION

I. Title VII Accommodation Claim

In her complaint Stevens alleges that UPS did not accommodate her alleged disability because of her race and terminated her employment because of her race. In Illinois, if an employee has not filed an EEOC charge within 300 days of alleged discriminatory conduct, a Title VII claim based on that conduct will be time-barred. 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5 (e)(1); Sharp v. United Airlines, 236 F.3d 368, 372 (7th Cir. 2001). The limitations period begins to run when: 1) there is an adverse personnel action taken against the plaintiff employee, Davidson v. Indiana-American Water Works, 953 F.2d 1058, 1059 (7th Cir. 1992), and 2) the plaintiff employee is aware of the adverse employment action. Sharp, 236 F.3d at 372 (stating that the "discovery rule" applies to the accrual of the limitations period). The limitations period can also be equitably tolled under the doctrines of equitable estoppel and equitable tolling if there are extenuating circumstances. Jackson v. Rockford Hous. Auth., 213 F.3d 389, 394, 396 (7th Cir. 2000); Cada v. Baxter Healthcare Corp., 920 F.2d 446, 450-52 (7th Cir. 1990).

UPS argues that Stevens' Title VII claim based on the failure to accommodate Stevens' alleged disability is time-barred because she was denied accommodations for her alleged disability in July 1999 and filed her EEOC charge in May 2002 which is well beyond the 300 day limitations period. We agree. Stevens states in her EEOC charge: "Since on or in July 1999, I have been on medical leave and have requested a reasonable accommodation for light duty to no avail." In her complaint she states that she was put on the inactive list because UPS would not provide her with accommodations, which also indicates that she was denied accommodations beginning in July 1999. Stevens' claim that UPS did not accommodate her alleged disability because of her race is time-barred.

II. ADA Claims

Stevens claims that UPS terminated her employment because of her alleged disability and that UPS failed to provided her with reasonable accommodations. UPS argues that the failure to accommodate claim is time-barred and that Stevens does not have a disability that is protected by the ADA.

A. ADA Accommodation Claim

In Illinois, if an employee has not filed an EEOC charge within 300 days of alleged discriminatory conduct, an ADA claim based on that conduct will be time-barred. 42 U.S.C. § 12117 (a); 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5 (e); Sharp, 236 F.3d at 372; Fairchild v. Forma Scientific, Inc., 147 F.3d 567, 574 (7th Cir. 1998) (stating that ADA adopts enforcement procedures of Title VII). Stevens was denied accommodations for her alleged disability in July 1999 and Stevens filed the EEOC charge on ...


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