United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division
LATANYA D. BLEVINS, Plaintiff,
AT&T SERVICES, INC., Defendant.
OPINION, MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
EDWARD AUTREY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter is before the Court on Defendant's Motion for
Summary Judgement, [Doc. No. 66]. Plaintiff opposes the
Motion. For the reasons set forth below, the Motion is
worked for AT&T Services, Inc. (“AT&T” or
“Defendant”) from 2004-2012. She worked at a call
center in Olivette, Missouri. Plaintiff's first position
at AT&T was a service representative, and then she became
a senior consultant. A senior consultant performs the
following tasks: 1) handling customer calls regarding sales
and service, 2) responding to customer requests or inquiries
about services, products, and billing, 3) making notations
via computer terminal, 4) utilizing different mechanized
systems to initiate and complete service orders, 5) working
to meet revenue goals, service commitments, and other
deadlines, and 6) wearing a headset. A senior consultant in
Plaintiff's department would talk to the customer and
type at the same time. In a typical day, a senior consultant
would talk to a customer through a headset and type all day
was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) in 2009. In
December of 2011, Plaintiff went on short-term disability. At
the time, she was having headaches, swollen hands, numbness,
hearing loss, trouble with fine motor skills, and fatigue.
There was concern that these symptoms were related to typing
and use of a headset.
2012, Blevins sought accommodations for permanent
restrictions, which were 1) unable to use a headset, 2)
unable to type, other than to sign in and out of the
computer, 3) need to sit or stand at will, and 4) inability
to work over 40 hours per week.
Plaintiff was on short-term disability, there was a
conference call which included members of management, HR,
Plaintiff, and Plaintiff's union representative to
discuss Plaintiff's restrictions and possible
accommodations. At the time, the restrictions were no
headset, and no typing other than to log on and log off of
the computer. There were no disagreements about the
restrictions. On the phone call, Plaintiff was asked what she
thinks could happen that would allow her to do her job.
Plaintiff's union representative, Pamela Farrell, made a
recommendation for a voice-activated system. A representative
of AT&T's HR department told Plaintiff and her union
representative that AT&T would look into such a system -
including the cost and whether it would affect customer
explored the possibility of using a voice-activated system
for Plaintiff's computer to accommodate Plaintiff's
inability to type (other than to log in and log out), but
found that there was no system that would be feasible at the
call center because 1) all voice-activated systems at the
time required some typing, and 2) due to the multiple systems
used by a senior consultant/service representative, there was
no voice-activated system that would be compatible with
AT&T's multiple systems. AT&T Services, Inc.
explored the possibility of allowing Ms. Blevins to use a
speakerphone instead of a headset, but had privacy concerns
with the speakerphone.
was another phone call which included Plaintiff, her union
representative, and an HR representative to discuss
Plaintiff's restrictions and possible accommodations. The
call participants discussed voice-activated systems. The HR
representative said that even the best voice-activated
products require some typing. Plaintiff does not know whether
the best voice-activated systems require some typing.
Plaintiff's union representative, Pamela Ferrell,
testified that she had no reason to question that the
specific voice-activated software she proposed required some
typing. She also testified that she had seen some software
that eliminated typing.
does not use a voice-activated computer system. She does not
know whether a voice-activated system would be able to access
the different AT&T systems from voice commands and be
able to automatically type in customer information given.
department at the call center told her they could not
accommodate her restrictions of not being able to type (other
than to log in and out) and not being able to use a headset.
began the process of looking for other open jobs at AT&T.
Plaintiff was looking for a clerical job.
union representative gave her a binder with jobs in St.
Louis. Based on this binder of jobs, Plaintiff applied for
some jobs. Plaintiff does not remember the jobs for which she
deposition, Plaintiff described a job at AT&T that
involved filing hard copy papers and printing paperwork. She
does not know whether that was an open position. Plaintiff
filled out two documents tilted “job vacancy
request.” She signed this document on July 26, 2012.
She listed desired job titles, and listed interest in
Missouri and the St. Louis metropolitan area. In the two
forms, she identified a total of six job positions she was
interested in if there were any openings: central office
clerk, business services instructor, S-2 clerical, supplies
attendant, S-1 clerical, and SS-2 clerical. Plaintiff does
not recall filling out any documents where she requested a
job anywhere other than the St. Louis metro area.
Ferrell, Plaintiff's union representative, assisted
Plaintiff with the job vacancy request (JVR) form. After an
employee fills out a job vacancy request listing positions in
which he or she is interested, if a job becomes available,
the employee is placed on a candidacy list and will be
considered for that position.
was contacted to undergo testing for a premises technician
position, but did not pass.
was unable to secure an open position at AT&T for which
she was qualified, with or without an accommodation.
August 21, 2012, Plaintiff received a letter from
AT&T's Integrated Disability Service Center (IDSC).
It notified Plaintiff that her short-term disability payments
would expire December 9, 2012, and that she may be eligible
for long-term disability benefits as of December 10, 2012.
The letter explained that to qualify for long-term disability
benefits, an individual must be totally disabled as defined
by the plan. Plaintiff filled out and signed an application
for long-term disability benefits through AT&T on August
28, 2012. Plaintiff understood that she was filling out and
signing an application for long-term disability benefits from
AT&T. Nobody forced Plaintiff to apply for long-term
disability payments from AT&T. Plaintiff understood that
the long-term disability application was a voluntary process.
She had a choice about whether to apply or not.
request for long-term disability benefits was approved. Her
short-term disability benefits ended on December 9, 2012 and
her long-term disability benefits began December 10, 2012.
She received her first long-term disability benefit check at
the end of December, 2012. Under the long-term disability
plan, Plaintiff is provided 50 percent earnings protection.
must complete a questionnaire every year for AT&T's
long-term disability benefit program. While on long-term
disability, the IDSC continues to monitor Plaintiff's
medical condition. Plaintiff has provided updates and
information to the IDSC for over four years.
August 15, 2013, Plaintiff filled out and signed the first
long-term disability questionnaire for AT&T after her
original application for long-term disability. On the
questionnaire, Plaintiff was asked “in your own words
tell us why you cannot work in your own or any
occupation.” Plaintiff responded: “The reason I
can't work is because stress triggers MS. I don't
want to have MS attack that puts me in an immobile
state.” At her deposition, Plaintiff explained that
this answer did not encompass all of the health challenges
that she is facing. Plaintiff stated, “It shouldn't
have just been one thing pinpointed. It should have been the
overall health issue, period. It should have been my health,
my life, my-you know, those things that I said earlier. But
at this particular time I was just sick and just wanted to do
what I needed to do to get better. So that's why the
statement went to oh, I'm stressed. But it was more than
that.” On December 15, 2014, Plaintiff filled out and
signed another questionnaire regarding her long-term
disability benefits. On the questionnaire, Plaintiff was
asked “in your own words tell us why you cannot work in
your own or any occupation.” Plaintiff responded:
“I am sick and lately my symptoms have increased. I
don't want to have any relapses if avoidable.”
Plaintiff is currently receiving long-term disability
benefits through AT&T. Other than a “little
period” where Plaintiff did not receive short-term
disability benefits due to the delay in obtaining complete
medical records (which she was subsequently paid for),
Plaintiff has continuously been getting either short-term or
long-term disability payments from AT&T from 2011 to the
supervisor's manual applicable during Plaintiff's
employment at AT&T states that “employees who leave
the service of the company immediately following the
expiration of sickness disability benefits are not entitled
to payment in lieu of vacation.” Plaintiff does not
claim that this policy was violated.
never waived short-term or long-term disability payments.
Plaintiff has been paid far more in long-term disability
payments than the value of four weeks of vacation.
applied to the Social Security Administration (SSA) for
disability insurance benefits under Title II of the Social
Security Act on October 16, 2012, alleging a disability since
December 4, 2011. Plaintiff's application for social
security disability benefits was completed on December 5,
2012. Id. at p. 4. In her application, Plaintiff
claimed: “I became unable to work because of my
disabling condition on ...