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Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. United Parcel Service

September 10, 2010

EQUAL EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITY COMMISSION, PLAINTIFF, AND TRUDI MOMSEN, PLAINTIFF-INTERVENOR
v.
UNITED PARCEL SERVICE, INC., DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Robert M. Dow, Jr.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Before the Court are two motions [15 & 36] filed by Defendant United Parcel Service ("UPS"), seeking to dismiss both Plaintiff Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's complaint [1] as well as Plaintiff-Intervenor Trudi Momsen's amended complaint [29]. For the reasons set forth below, Defendant's motion to dismiss [15] the EEOC's complaint is granted, and Defendant's motion to dismiss [36] Plaintiff Trudi Momsen's intervenor complaint is denied. The EEOC may file an amended complaint within twenty-one days of the date of this order.

I. Background*fn1

A. Allegations from EEOC's Complaint

In its complaint, the EEOC alleges that UPS terminated Trudi Momsen, an employee suffering from multiple sclerosis ("MS"), rather than accommodating her by extending her leave or returning her to work in an available position which she could have performed. EEOC Compl. ¶ 8. The EEOC further alleges that since at least 2002, UPS has maintained a 12-month leave policy which does not provide for reasonable accommodation of employees with disabilities and which instead provides for termination of their employment. Id. at ¶ 12. The EEOC purports to bring this complaint on behalf of Momsen and a class of individuals with disabilities who were affected by UPS's "inflexible 12-month leave policy." See, e.g., id.

B. Allegations from Momsen's Amended Intervenor Complaint

Trudi Momsen worked at UPS from 1990 to 2007. She went on a medical leave of absence beginning February 2006 and was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in the fall of 2006. After approximately twelve months of leave, she returned to work in early February 2007. When Momsen returned to work in February 2007, she required a cane to walk in order to maintain her balance. Momsen requested reasonable accommodations from UPS, including the use of a hand cart "that would allow her to perform her job duties." Momsen Compl. ¶ 13. According to the allegations in the amended intervenor complaint, when Momsen requested a hand cart, her supervisor laughed in response, and UPS refused to provide her with this or any other accommodation for her disability. Id. at ¶ 14.

Shortly after returning to work in February 2007, Momsen injured herself when she slipped on ice. She experience a "flareup" of her MS, and required therapeutic treatment that required her to take additional time off to receive this treatment. She then told UPS that she could not return to work until her condition had stabilized, and on March 6, 2007, Momsen informed UPS that, at that time, her doctor required her to take one additional week of medical leave in order to return to work. After this request for an extension of medical leave, UPS fired Momsen on March 6, 2007, pursuant to its medical leave policy, because she had recently been on medical leave for a year.

As in the EEOC's complaint, the intervenor complaint also alleges that since at least 2002, UPS has maintained 12-month leave policy which does not provide for reasonable accommodation of employees with disabilities and which instead provides for termination of their employment. Id. at ¶ 22. In other words, during the 12 months, UPS keeps the individual's position open and allows the individual to continue his or her benefits. However, if an employee has been unable to return to work for a twelve month period, UPS administratively clears the employee, which entails separating the employee, ending her benefits, and filling the position.

II. Legal Standard for Rule 12(b)(6) Motions to Dismiss

A motion to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) tests the sufficiency of the complaint, not the merits of the case.See Gibson v. City of Chicago, 910 F.2d 1510, 1520 (7th Cir. 1990). To survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, the complaint first must comply with Rule 8(a) by providing "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief" (Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2)), such that the defendant is given "fair notice of what the * * * claim is and the grounds upon which it rests." Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 1964 (2007) (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47 (1957)). Second, the factual allegations in the complaint must be sufficient to raise the possibility of relief above the "speculative level," assuming that all of the allegations in the complaint are true.

E.E.O.C. v. Concentra Health Servs., Inc., 496 F.3d 773, 776 (7th Cir. 2007) (quoting Twombly, 127 S.Ct. at 1965, 1973 n.14). "[O]nce a claim has been stated adequately, it may be supported by showing any set of facts consistent with the allegations in the complaint." Twombly, 127 S.Ct. at 1969. The Court accepts as true all of the well-pleaded facts alleged by the plaintiff and all reasonable inferences that can be drawn therefrom. See Barnes v. Briley, 420 F.3d 673, 677 (7th Cir. 2005).

III. Analysis

After Momsen filed her charge of discrimination, the EEOC conducted an investigation into her claims and UPS's medical leave policy and determined that there was reasonable cause to believe that UPS discriminated against Momsen and a class of disabled employees on medical leave because UPS terminated them rather than providing them with reasonable accommodations. After the Court granted Momsen leave ...


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