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Quaintance v. City of Columbia

United States District Court, W.D. Missouri, Central Division

January 2, 2018

HOPE QUAINTANCE, Plaintiff,
v.
CITY OF COLUMBIA, COMO CONNECT, Defendant.

          ORDER

          NANETTE K. LAUGHREY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Pending before the Court is Defendant City of Columbia-COMO Connect's Motion for Summary Judgment, Doc. 51. For the following reasons, the motion is granted.

         I. Background[1]

         Plaintiff Hope Quaintance brings this suit pro se, alleging that her former employer, Defendant City of Columbia-COMO Connect (“Columbia”), discriminated against her on the basis of her race, gender, and disability, and in retaliation for her complaints of harassment in the workplace.

         Beginning in February 2013, Quaintance worked for Columbia as a temporary bus driver. Her route operated on the University of Missouri, Columbia campus, and therefore she worked only when the students were present. When students were away during the summer, Quaintance and the other temporary bus drivers would be laid off, but when the students returned in the fall, Quaintance and the other temporary bus drivers would be recalled. Throughout her tenure, Quaintance alleges she was subject to harassment from her co-workers. As a result of the harassment Quaintance often felt physically unwell. She filed a complaint with her supervisors on April 4, 2014.

         On May 8, 2014, Quaintance left work early to visit her primary care doctor. Though she was told that her blood pressure was high, she was released to return to work with no restrictions. However, Columbia requires all bus driver candidates to satisfy U.S. Department of Transportation (“DOT”) medical requirements, including baseline standards related to blood pressure. Additionally, according to a City of Columbia ordinance, employees may at any time be required to undergo medical examinations to determine their fitness and continued ability to perform the essential functions of their job. Thus, when Quaintance informed her supervisor about her blood pressure results, she was removed from bus driving duty and required to undergo a “fitness for duty examination.”

         On May 14, 2014, Quaintance visited Dr. Michael Szewczyk, a certified DOT Medical Examiner and Columbia's medical advisor for DOT and public safety employees. As part of her fitness for duty exam, Dr. Szewczyk requested the medical records related to Quaintance's May 8, 2014 doctor visit. Upon reviewing the records, he learned that Quaintance has a history of bipolar disease, and that she was not receiving treatment. Quaintance told Dr. Szewczyk that she felt it was not bipolar disease but rather attention deficit disorder. He explained that she could satisfy DOT requirements regardless of whether it was bipolar disease or attention deficit disorder, but either way she would need to establish care with a mental health professional, be stable, and be cleared to operate a commercial vehicle by both a mental health professional and Dr. Szewczyk.

         Dr. Szewczyk returned a “fit for duty authorization form” to Columbia stating that Quaintance could return to work, but she was specifically restricted from driving because she needed additional medical treatment. A follow up exam was scheduled for July 15, 2014, to confirm that she was proceeding as necessary to regain her DOT certification. That appointment was ultimately cancelled and never rescheduled.

         Quaintance was issued a recall date for August 18, 2014. However, on August 25, 2014, she received a letter from Columbia stating that because she was not DOT certified, she was not eligible to be recalled back to work.

         II. Discussion

         Quaintance brings this lawsuit alleging employment discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. She alleges that she was discriminated against due to her “disability and/or [her] record of disability, ” due to her race and gender, and in retaliation for her complaints of harassment in the workplace. Doc. 1, p. 6.

         The purpose of summary judgment is to “pierce the pleadings and assess the proof in order to see whether there is a genuine need for trial.” Matsushita Elec. Indus. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986). Therefore, to obtain summary judgment, the movant must show that “there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). If the movant satisfies this burden, then the non-moving party “must set forth specific facts sufficient to raise a genuine issue for trial and cannot rest on allegations in the pleadings.” Ryan v. Capital Contractors, Inc., 679 F.3d 772, 776 (8th Cir. 2012) (quoting Nw. Airlines, Inc. v. Astraea Aviation Servs., Inc., 111 F.3d 1386, 1393 (8th Cir.1997)).

         In deciding whether to grant summary judgment, the Court must view all facts in a light most favorable to the nonmoving party, and give that party the benefit of all reasonable inferences drawn from the facts. Robinson v. Monaghan, 864 F.2d 622, 624 (8th Cir. 1989). However, both parties must support their assertions “by citing to particular parts of materials in the record . . . or showing that the materials cited do not establish the absence or presence of a genuine dispute.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1). Quaintance does not address Columbia's section of uncontroverted facts, nor does her response provide its own. Moreover, despite relying on new facts, Quaintance does not support any of her factual assertions by citing to depositions, documents, affidavits or declarations, as required by Federal Rule 56.[2] Indeed, her response does not cite to the record at all.[3]

         Columbia has also represented to the Court that it submitted a written request to admit to Quaintance, which she did not answer. When a party serves a written request to admit, every matter included in that request “is admitted unless, within 30 days after being served, the party to whom the request is directed serves on the requesting party a written answer or objection addressed to the matter and signed by the party or its attorney.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 36(a)(3). “A matter admitted under this rule is conclusively established unless the court, on motion, permits the admission to be withdrawn or amended.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 36(b). Quaintance does not ...


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