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United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit
July 6, 2020, Decided
[*1015] BUSH, Circuit Judge:
This case concerns the obligations of an employer to accommodate a deaf employee under the Florida Civil Rights Act of 1992 (FCRA), § 760.01 - § 760.11. The dispute [*1016] arose after Costco Wholesale Corporation terminated the employment of Christine D'Onofrio, who has been deaf since birth. She sued Costco in Florida state court for violations of the FCRA, and Costco removed the case to federal court. [**2] The trial ended with a jury verdict in Costco's favor on one count of wrongful termination, but against the company on D'Onofrio's failure-to-accommodate claim, which is the subject of this appeal. As to this latter claim, the district court granted Costco's motion for judgment as a matter of law and, in the event that this judgment were to be reversed on appeal, conditionally granted Costco's motion for a new trial based on the verdict being against the great weight of the evidence.
For the reasons explained below, we agree with the district court that there was insufficient evidence to support the failure-to-accommodate claim. Therefore, we AFFIRM the district court's grant of judgment as a matter of law to Costco pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 50(b). In light of this holding, we need not address D'Onofrio's second appeal related to the court's conditional grant of Costco's new-trial motion.
A. D'Onofrio's Employment at Costco: 1989 to 2011
In 1989 D'Onofrio started her employment at Costco's Davie, Florida warehouse. (Doc. 79, p. 9; Doc. 116, p. 190). There, she worked for approximately 14 years, during which about 15 to 20 people at different times served as her manager. (Doc. 117, pp. 10-11, 18). None [**3] of these supervisors had any difficulty communicating with her, and she never filed any complaint with Human Resources about any of them. (Id., pp. 11-12).
In 2003, D'Onofrio transferred to another Florida-based Costco warehouse, in Pompano Beach. She acknowledged that, for many years in this job, she had no "issues with managers involving communication," and "was able to communicate with managers and coworkers effectively" and "successfully." (Doc. 117, pp. 22, 24-25). D'Onofrio's performance evaluations prior to 2012 attest to these facts. (Doc. 118, pp. 67-79; Doc. 112-4-7). She testified that as of "June 2011," she "was very happy" with her employment at Costco. (Doc. 117 p. 25). In addition, during this period, there were relatively few behavioral incidents involving D'Onofrio.
Full case includes Shepard's, Headnotes, Legal Analytics from Lex Machina, and more.
964 F.3d 1014 *; 2020 U.S. App. LEXIS 20869 **; 28 Fla. L. Weekly Fed. C 1370; 19 Accom. Disabilities Dec. (CCH) P19-080; 2020 WL 3637580
CHRISTINE D'ONOFRIO, Plaintiff-Appellant, versus COSTCO WHOLESALE CORPORATION, Defendant-Appellee.
Subsequent History: US Supreme Court certiorari denied by D'Onofrio v. Costco Wholesale Corp., 2021 U.S. LEXIS 826 (U.S., Feb. 22, 2021)
Prior History: [**1] Appeal from the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida. D.C. Docket No. 0:15-cv-62065-WJZ.
D'Onofrio v. Costco Wholesale Corp., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 232219 (S.D. Fla., Jan. 29, 2019)
accommodation, training, interpreter, reasonable accommodation, deaf, communicate, on-site, warehouse, meetings, installation, deaf-culture, disability, district court, technology, fail to provide, employees, sessions, team, termination, interact, phones, communication problems, reasonable jury, matter of law, counseling, training session, no evidence, three-manager, three-person, coaching
Civil Procedure, Appeals, Standards of Review, De Novo Review, Trials, Judgment as Matter of Law, Business & Corporate Compliance, Discrimination, Disability Discrimination, Reasonable Accommodations, Labor & Employment Law, Evidence, Burdens of Proof, Employee Burdens of Proof, Reasonable Accommodations, Interactive Process, Reassignments & Transfers