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Flores v. Flying J

March 4, 2010

BEVERLY FLORES, PLAINTIFF,
v.
FLYING J, INC., A/K/A FLYING J TRAVEL PLAZA, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Reagan, District Judge

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

Plaintiff Beverly Flores sued Defendant Flying J, Inc. on April 25, 2008. She alleges that Flying J terminated her employment due to her pregnancy and claims that this violates named federal law and unnamed federal and state statutes and case law. The statutes she chose to identify were §§ 703 and 704 of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e-2, 2000e-3 (2006), and 42 U.S.C. § 1981. Flying J later moved for summary judgment. (Doc. 29.) There are genuine issues of material fact on the gravamen of Flores' case, so the Court will deny the motion in part. Flying J does demonstrate that the auxiliary issues in Flores' case are not supported by the discovery, so the Court will grant the motion in part.

I. Standard for Summary Judgment

Summary judgment is appropriate where the pleadings, discovery and disclosure materials on file and any affidavits show that there is no genuine issue of material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Estate of Suskovich v. Anthem Health Plans of Va., Inc., 553 F.3d 559, 563 (7th Cir. 2009) (citing Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c)); accord Breneisen v. Motorola, Inc., 512 F.3d 972 (7th Cir. 2008); Levy v. Minn. Life Ins. Co., 517 F.3d 519 (7th Cir. 2008).

In ruling on a summary judgment motion, the Court construes all facts and reasonable inferences in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. Lloyd v. Swifty Transp., Inc., 552 F.3d 594, 600 (7th Cir. 2009); TAS Distrib. Co. v. Cummins Engine Co., 491 F.3d 625, 630 (7th Cir. 2007); Reynolds v. Jamison, 488 F.3d 756, 764 (7th Cir. 2007).

A non-movant cannot rest on its pleadings, though; to avoid summary judgment, the non-moving party must provide evidence on which a reasonable fact-finder could find in their favor. Maclin v. SBC Ameritech, 520 F.3d 781, 786 (7th Cir. 2008). As the Seventh Circuit recently explained:

[T]he non-moving party must submit evidence that there is a genuine issue for trial. The existence of merely a scintilla of evidence in support of the non-moving party's position is insufficient; there must be evidence on which the jury could reasonably find for the non-moving party.

Giant Screen Sports v. Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, 553 F.3d 527, 531-32 (7th Cir. 2009) (citation omitted) (citing Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(e); Ptasznik v. St. Joseph Hosp., 464 F.3d 691, 694 (7th Cir. 2006)).

II. Factual Background

Viewing the discovery and affidavits presented by the parties in the light most favorable to Flores, the non-moving party, the Court assumes the following facts for the purpose of deciding Flying J's motion.

Flying J is based in Ogden, Utah, and operates several truck stops across the country. These truck stops sell fuel and also provide several other amenities geared towards truck drivers and travelers: a restaurant, showers, laundry facilities and a convenience store.

Flying J hired Flores in April of 2006 to work as a cashier in the convenience store of the truck stop in Alorton, Illinois. Her duties included cleaning the store and the area around it, operating the cash register keyboard and serving a minimum of 30 customers in 30 minutes. These duties require her to stand 8 hours at a time, excluding breaks and lunch.

Three months later, Flying J transferred Flores to the same position at the Pontoon Beach, Illinois truck stop. In August, she discovered that she was pregnant and informed the Pontoon Beach stop's general manager, John Mourton, but did not request time off of work at that point. In October 2006, though, she began developing pain in her feet as a complication of her pregnancy. She consulted a physician, who requested that she take the next four days off of work (October 23-- 26). Mourton approved the leave of absence.

Flores returned to work on October 28, but a few days later she again saw the physician for the same problem. Her physician, Peter Reynolds, gave her a letter to show to her employer, which stated as follows: "Ability to treat is somewhat limited due to pregnancy. Ms. F[l]ores would improve much faster if she avoided prolonged standing. Please ...


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