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Fredricksen v. United Parcel Service Co.

October 19, 2006


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Virginia M. Kendall


Plaintiff Daniel L. Fredricksen ("Fredricksen" of "Plaintiff") is employed as an Airline Maintenance Technician at United Parcel Service's ("UPS" or "Defendant") Airline Division located at O'Hare Airport in Chicago, Illinois. In February 2004, Plaintiff was diagnosed with leukemia. Plaintiff brings the present action against Defendant under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 ("ADA"), 42 U.S.C. § 12101, et seq. Plaintiff alleges that beginning in May 2004 when he revealed his disability, Defendant has subjected Plaintiff to a course of hostile, abusive, and harassing conduct ("Count I"). Plaintiff also claims that Defendant unlawfully retaliated against him. ("Count II").

Defendant has moved to dismiss Count I. Because Plaintiff pleaded several incidents of potentially discriminatory conduct within the 300-day limitations period before he filed his EEOC Charge, Plaintiff has stated a claim under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). Additionally, Plaintiff has pleaded other discriminatory activities that may establish an ongoing hostile work environment, thereby incorporating even those acts outside the 300-day limitations period into one continuing "unlawful employment practice." Therefore, Defendant's Motion to Dismiss Count I is denied.

Plaintiff's Allegations

Plaintiff began working for Defendant as an Aircraft Maintenance Technician on April 13, 1992, in Defendant's Airline Division located at O'Hare Airport in Chicago, Illinois. (Compl. ¶ 8.) Throughout his fourteen year tenure with Defendant, Fredricksen performed his duties according the reasonable satisfaction of his employer and had received several awards and continuous solicitation of his expertise by management. (Id. at ¶ 10.)

In February 2004, Fredricksen was diagnosed with leukemia. (Id. at ¶ 11.) Defendant does not challenge Plaintiff's disability under the ADA, and, for the purposes of this motion, accepts that Plaintiff's leukemia causes Plaintiff a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, including, but not limited to, breathing, sleeping, eating, thinking, and concentrating, as defined by statute. See 42 U.S.C. § 12102(2).

Fredricksen revealed to his supervisor, Scott Crane, UPS O'Hare Station Manager, in May 2004 that he was suffering from leukemia. (Compl. ¶ 12.) Since disclosing his disability, Defendant's management has subjected Plaintiff to a course of hostile, abusive, and harassing conduct, including more severe terms and conditions of employment, unwarranted and accelerated disciplinary actions, unfair testing requirements, and threats of suspension and discharge. (Id. at ¶13.)

In particular, on May 21, 2004, Station Manager Crane verbally disciplined Fredricksen concerning the Levels of Inspection process, accused Plaintiff of not working in the best interests of the company, and documented this discipline in Plaintiff's personal file. (Id. at ¶ 14.)

On June 15, 2004, Supervisor Essey Kinfe subjected Plaintiff to unwarranted discipline when she verbally disciplined Fredricksen for failing to sign an aircraft logbook to reflect a minor maintenance procedure, despite Plaintiff accurately recording the completed status of the procedure in the company's aircraft maintenance computer system. (Id. at ¶ 15.) On June 24, 2004, Station Manager Crane harassed and demeaned Plaintiff by throwing on the table an oversized, reproduced photograph of Plaintiff measuring identified cracks in an aircraft and falsely accusing Plaintiff of "over-inspecting" aircraft with a magnifying glass. (Id. at ¶ 16.) Plaintiff's inspection of the aircraft was in adherence to the aircraft manufacturer's documentation, FAA regulations, and Defendant's own policies and procedures when discovering cracks beyond the established limit on an aircraft engine. (Id.)

On July 2, 2004, Station Manager Crane indefinitely prohibited Plaintiff from conducting any aircraft pre-departure inspections, and instead relegated Plaintiff to performing back room filing duties. (Id. at ¶ 18.) These prohibitions and restrictions on Plaintiff's duties remain in force today, jeopardizing Plaintiff's ability to sustain his position as an Aircraft Maintenance Technician, even though Plaintiff's disability has no bearing on his ability to perform inspections. (Id.)

Similarly situated employees who were not disabled regularly failed to properly document repairs in the aircraft logbook and discovered cracks beyond the established limit on aircraft engines without verbal discipline and consequence. (Id. at ¶¶ 15, 19.)

Nearly a year later, on June 1, 2005, Plaintiff complained to Supervisor Kinfe that prohibiting Plaintiff from conducting aircraft pre-departure inspections was in violation of the terms of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, interfered with Plaintiff's abilities to perform his job, and was discriminatory. (Id. at ¶ 21.) The day after, on June 2, 2005, Supervisor Kinfe confronted Plaintiff claiming that he failed to take a required DC8 CAT training test, although the Plaintiff had not been notified previously that he was required to take the test. (Id. at ¶ 22) Kinfe mandated that Plaintiff complete the training test in less than the thirty days regularly afforded to employees to complete such tests. (Id.) On June 3, 2005, Supervisor Kinfe forced Plaintiff to complete the DC8 CAT training test immediately, in violation of Defendant's own policies and procedures. (Id. at ¶ 23.) Fredricksen failed to pass the test. (Id.)

On June 10, 2005, Defendant convened a fact-finding hearing concerning Plaintiff's failed DC8 CAT training test without previously issuing any charges against him and in violation of the Collective Bargaining Agreement. (Id. at ¶ 24.) Defendant also issued Plaintiff a warning letter without seeking prior approval from the Labor Relations Department. (Id.) Defendant then required Plaintiff to retake the DC8 CAT test within seven days, when Defendant's own procedures generally afford technicians fifteen days for retaking such a test. (Id. at ¶ 26.) Fredricksen subsequently passed his second DC8 CAT training test on June 17, 2005. (Id.)

Similarly situated non-disabled employees received notice thirty days in advance in which to complete the training test and have failed such tests on at least one occasion without consequence. (Id. at ΒΆ 25.) Likewise, similarly situated employees who are not disabled ...

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