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Chicago Regional Council of Carpenters v. Pepper Construction Co.

United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division

March 26, 2014

CHICAGO REGIONAL COUNCIL OF CARPENTERS, UNITED BROTHERHOOD OF CARPENTERS AND JOINERS OF AMERICA, a voluntary association, and ELMO McKINNEY, Plaintiffs,
v.
PEPPER CONSTRUCTION CO. and WORKSTEPS, INC., Defendants

Page 919

For Chicago Regional Council of Carpenters, United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America, a voluntary association, Elmo McKinney, Plaintiffs: Amy Paluch Epton, Terrance Bryan McGann, LEAD ATTORNEYS, Whitfield McGann & Ketterman, Chicago, IL.

For Pepper Construction Co., Defendant: Nina G. Stillman, LEAD ATTORNEY, Morgan Lewis Bockius, Chicago, IL; Andrew Lylburn Scroggins, Charis A. Runnels, Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP, Chicago, IL.

For Worksteps, Inc., Defendant: Patrick J. Rocks, Jr., LEAD ATTORNEY, Sean C. Herring, Jackson Lewis P.C., Chicago, IL.

Page 920

MEMORANDUM OPINION & ORDER

JOAN B. GOTTSCHALL, United States District Judge.

Plaintiffs Chicago Regional Council of Carpenters (CRCC) and Elmo McKinney filed a two-count First Amended Complaint against defendants Pepper Construction Co. (" Pepper" ) and WorkSTEPS, Inc. (" WorkSTEPS" ) on February 26, 2013, seeking relief under the Americans

Page 921

with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. § 12101 et seq. (the " ADA" ), and the Declaratory Judgment Act of 1934, 28 U.S.C. § 2201 et seq. Both defendants have moved to dismiss the complaint under Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) and (6). WorkSTEPS moves to dismiss the complaint in its entirety, while Pepper moves to dismiss the claims brought by CRCC. The court dismisses both plaintiffs' claims against WorkSTEPS. Pepper's motion is granted in part. CRCC's claims against Pepper in Count I of the complaint are dismissed without prejudice.

I. Factual Background

The court assumes the truth of the factual allegations in the complaint. See Munson v. Gaetz, 673 F.3d 630, 632 (7th Cir. 2012). In or about July 2010, McKinney was a third-year carpenter apprentice. He was and is a member of CRCC, a voluntary association which represents carpenters in the construction industry.

McKinney sought work as a union carpenter in July 2010. He applied for a position with Pepper. He was informed that he would have to take a drug test and a pre-employment physical and medical examination. He was given a choice of six Accelerated medical clinic locations at which to take the test, all of which were affiliated with WorkSTEPS. WorkSTEPS supervises a national network of clinics that administer physical and medical examinations for employers, using healthcare clinicians trained, licensed and certified by WorkSTEPS.

McKinney presented himself for testing on or about August 9, 2010. The tests purported to evaluate applicants' ability to perform the essential functions of jobs classified as " carpenter." McKinney's resting heart rate was tested, along with his range of motion and muscle strength. He was required to ascend and descend a ladder, lift and carry a 4' x 8' piece of plywood fifteen feet, lift and carry 94 pounds, and kneel while disassembling and reassembling nuts and bolts. While performing the tests, he was strapped to a heart-rate monitor. McKinney successfully completed the strength and agility examinations and passed a drug test. When the clinician took McKinney's medical history, he revealed his condition of Diabetes mellitus, Type I.

Pepper refused to hire McKinney based on the results of his physical and medical examinations. One of Pepper's employees informed McKinney that he had failed the physical agility portion of the exam. When McKinney returned to the Accelerated clinic to find out why he had failed the exam, a clinic employee told him that he had failed because his heart rate was too high. WorkSTEPS's President told CRCC that McKinney should not work before consulting a cardiologist.

The plaintiffs allege that Pepper and WorkSTEPS violated the ADA by requiring all carpenter job applicants to submit to pre-employment medical inquiries and examinations. They allege that the examinations do not test an applicant's ability to perform the essential functions of a carpenter job. The plaintiffs further allege that McKinney is routinely stress-tested for heart disease because of his diabetes, and that there is nothing wrong with his heart, blood pressure, or cardiovascular system.

In Count I, CRCC seeks declaratory and injunctive relief for violations of the ADA by Pepper and WorkSTEPS. CRCC alleges that the defendants employ pre-offer examinations which include impermissible disability-related questions. These examinations screen out a class of individuals with disabilities, when the ...


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