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Wiltse v. Discover Financial Services

July 22, 2008

DOUGLAS J. WILTSE, PLAINTIFF,
v.
DISCOVER FINANCIAL SERVICES, INC., DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Blanche M. Manning United States District Judge

Judge Manning

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

Plaintiff Douglas J. Wiltse ("plaintiff" or "Wiltse") brings suit against his employer, Defendant Discover Financial Services, Inc. ("defendant" or "Discover"), alleging that it discriminated against him on the basis of a disability in violation of Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. § 12101 et seq.*fn1 This case is before the court on defendant's motion to dismiss the plaintiff's complaint pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6). For the reasons described below, defendant's motion is denied.

I. BACKGROUND FACTS

On February 17, 1992, Douglas J. Wiltse was hired by Discover as a desk agent within the Production Control Center and ultimately became a senior associate for Discover's Mainframe Tools and Vendor Management Department. In 1993, Wiltse was diagnosed with severe anxiety and depression, and Discover's Human Resources Department received three Medical Releases during Wiltse's employment acknowledging his illness. Wiltse breaks his complaint into three causes of action, each seeking relief under the ADA based on certain allegations.

Wiltse alleges in what he entitles his "first cause of action" that, on October 6, 2006, Ed Kerbs ("Kerbs"), his supervisor and manager of the Mainframe Tools and Vendor Management Department, "screamed at and berated him" continuously for 30 minutes. During this meeting, Wiltse alleges Kerbs stated that he was a "bad employee and in need of job-related help" based on an unidentified problem that occurred on a telephone conversation between Wiltse and a client of Discover. (Compl. ¶ 15). Wiltse alleges that the encounter with Kerbs exacerbated his mental illness and caused him to suffer severe anxiety attacks that required medical attention. He further alleges that Kerbs, who knew or should have known of his illness, did not call for any medical personnel to assist him.

In the second cause of action, Wiltse alleges that on November 10, 2006, Kerbs met with Wiltse and gave him a poor job performance evaluation for the 2006 calendar year. Wiltse alleges that this poor evaluation was based on his tenure as manager for only two months, and was "totally different from prior evaluations." As a direct result of this evaluation, Wiltse received a pay raise of less than one percent, substantially lower than his normal pay raise. On November, 12, 2006, Wiltse met with Kerbs who informed him that his poor year-end job evaluation was a result of his unprofessional behavior in the workplace, i.e. having a severe anxiety attack during their meeting on October 6, 2006. After this meeting, on November 14, 2006, Wiltse appealed his poor job performance evaluation utilizing Discover's internal appeal process, but his grievance was denied. As a result of his poor job performance evaluation and the failure to receive his normal annual pay raise, Wiltse alleged that he suffered additional severe anxiety attacks.

Wiltse's third cause of action alleges that on January 17, 2007, Wiltse met with Evelyn Delacruz, the director of Discover's Employee Relations Department and requested that his 2006 job performance evaluation be "reviewed and rewritten to reflect his satisfactory job performance" and that his 2007 pay raised be increased. (Compl. ¶ 32). According to Wiltse, the director informed him that he would be fired if he continued to "defend his position relative to.Kerbs' poor job evaluation." (Compl. ¶ 33). Wiltse alleges that as a result of this meeting he suffered additional severe anxiety attacks which required medical treatment. Wiltse further alleges that as a result of the above-described incidents, he had to take an extended medical leave, which is apparently ongoing. On February 16, 2007, Wiltse filed a charge of discrimination against Discover with the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"), alleging he was discriminated against on the basis of a disability in violation of the ADA.

II. STANDARD ON A MOTION TO DISMISS

Rule 12(b)(6) permits a motion to dismiss a complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. To state such a claim, the complaint need only contain a "short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). As noted by the Seventh Circuit:

The Supreme Court has interpreted that language to impose two easy-to-clear hurdles.

First, the complaint must describe the claim in sufficient detail to give the defendant "fair notice of what the ... claim is and the grounds upon which it rests." Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 1964-65 (2007)(quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47, 78 S.Ct. 99, 2 L.Ed.2d 80 (1957)) (alteration in Bell Atlantic ). Second, its allegations must plausibly suggest that the plaintiff has a right to relief, raising that possibility above a "speculative level"; if it does not, the plaintiff pleads itself out of court. Bell Atlantic, 127 S.Ct. at 1965, 1973 n.14.

E.E.O.C. v. Concentra Health Services, Inc., 496 F.3d 773, 776 (7th Cir. 2007). See also Killingsworth v. HSBC Bank Nevada, N.A., 507 F.3d 614, 618-19 (7th Cir. 2007) (observing that Supreme Court in Bell Atlantic "retooled federal pleading standards" such that a complaint must now contain "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.").*fn2

On a motion to dismiss under Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6), the court accepts the allegations in the complaint as true, viewing all facts, as well as any inferences reasonably drawn therefrom, in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. See Marshall-Mosby v. Corporate Receivables, Inc., 205 F.3d 323, 326 (7th Cir. 2000). "While a complaint attacked by a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss does not need detailed factual allegations, a plaintiff's obligation to provide the 'grounds' of his 'entitle[ment] to relief' requires more than labels and ...


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