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Meachem v. Memphis Light, Gas & Water Div.

United States District Court for the Western District of Tennessee, Western Division

August 10, 2015, Decided; August 10, 2015, Filed

Case No. 2:14-cv-02156-JTF-dkv

Opinion

 [*810]  ORDER DENYING DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

Before the Court comes Defendant Memphis Light, Gas & Water's Motion for Summary Judgment filed March 31, 2015. (ECF No. 44). On May 4, 2015, Plaintiff Andrea Mosby Meachem filed her Response in Opposition, (ECF No. 53), to which Defendant filed a Reply on May 29, 2015, (ECF No. 56).1 After review of the Motion, Response, Reply, and the entire record, the Court DENIES Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment.

I. FACTUAL HISTORY

In 2005, Plaintiff was hired by Defendant for an Attorney 3 position2 within the Department of Legal Services ("Department"). (ECF No. 44-1 at p. 5). During  [*811]  her tenure, Plaintiff [**2]  was supervised by Defendant's Vice President and General Counsel, Ms. Cheryl Patterson ("Patterson"). Id. The Department consists of Patterson, as well as, four other attorneys. Id. As an Attorney 3, Plaintiff primarily manages workers' compensation claims, employment issues, and litigation, but Plaintiff has never participated in a trial during her then 8-year tenure. (ECF No. 53 at p. 2).

On January 2, 2013, during the 23rd week of Plaintiff's pregnancy, Plaintiff's doctors discovered that Plaintiff's cervix had shortened, hospitalizing Plaintiff. (ECF Nos. 44-1 at p. 8; 53 at p. 3). As such, Plaintiff underwent corrective surgery on January 3, 2013. Plaintiff called her supervisor, Patterson, and informed her of Plaintiff's medical complications, which would require bed rest [**4]  for up to eleven weeks. (ECF No. 44-1 at pp. 8-10). At first, Patterson seemed agreeable to allowing Plaintiff to continue working once Defendant was provided appropriate supporting documentation. (ECF Nos. 53 at p. 3; 53-1 at ¶ 109) (stating that Plaintiff continued working until her accommodation request was denied); see also (ECF No. 44-23) (January 30, 2013, denial letter).

On January 7, 2013, Plaintiff made an official accommodation request to work from bed, either within the hospital or within her home. (ECF No. 44-1 at p. 11). That same day, the ADA Committee ("Committee")—consisting of Eric Conway, Steve Day, and Rutha Griffin3—met to discuss Plaintiff's requested accommodation. Id. On January 9, 2013, Dr. Shannon Malone wrote a letter advising the Defendant that Plaintiff was on bed rest, and in particular, noted that "[i]t would be ok for [Plaintiff] to work from her hospital or home." Id. at p. 10; (ECF No. 53 at p. 3). On January 15, 2013, the Committee, along with Patterson and Vernica Davis,4 held an interactive5 process with Plaintiff,  [*812]  in which Plaintiff was asked whether she could perform each essential job function. (ECF No. 44-1 at p. 12). Plaintiff responded in the affirmative for each [**5]  question asked; reiterating that all work could be done telephonically or through use of a computer. Id.; (ECF No. 53 at p. 4) (requiring only "remote access to her computer and access to her electronic case files"). Patterson relayed her concerns that Plaintiff would not be able to perform certain tasks without her being physically present. (ECF No. 44-1 at p. 12). The committee denied Plaintiff's accommodation request on January 18, 2013. (ECF No. 53 at p. 5). However, Plaintiff did not receive notice until January 30, 2013. Id.; see also (ECF No. 44-23). The crux of the Committee's denial letter of January 30, 2013, stated that (1) physical presence was required and (2) Plaintiff's request elevated concerns of confidentiality. (ECF No. 44-1 at p. 13).

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119 F. Supp. 3d 807 *; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 107079 **

ANDREA MOSBY MEACHEM, Plaintiff, v. MEMPHIS LIGHT, GAS & WATER DIVISION, Defendant.

Subsequent History: Decision reached on appeal by Mosby-Meachem v. Memphis Light, Gas & Water Div., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 4080 (6th Cir. Tenn., Feb. 21, 2018)

CORE TERMS

accommodation, physical presence, reasonable accommodation, disability, contends, summary judgment, essential function, appraisal, undue hardship, retaliatory, license, sick leave, interactive, suspension, employees, functions, comments, sufficient evidence, causal connection, prima facie case, job description, attending, reasons, handle, mental disability, question of fact, covered entity, negotiable, nonmovant, pregnancy