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Sandbach v. RAFCO Clean, LLC

United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division

January 9, 2020

JENNIFER SANDBACH, Plaintiff,
v.
RAFCO CLEAN, LLC, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          RONNIE L. WHITE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This matter is before the Court on Defendant Rafco Clean, LLC's Motion for Summary Judgment. (ECF No. 24) Plaintiff Jennifer Sandbach opposes the motion. (ECF No. 29) After careful consideration, the Court grants Defendant's motion and enters summary judgment in Defendant's favor.

         BACKGROUND

         Defendant Rafco Clean, LLC is a janitorial company that provides cleaning and maintenance services for commercial properties. (Def. Rafco Clean, LLC's Statement of Uncontroverted Material Facts in Supp. of Its Mot. for Summ. J. ("SUMF") ¶ 1, ECF No. 24-1) Plaintiff Jennifer Sandbach began her employment with Defendant in May 2015 as a day porter, tasked with cleaning and general building upkeep. (Id. at ¶¶ 2-3) Andre Logan was Plaintiffs immediate supervisor, and Brian Gerkens was her second-level manager. (Id. at ¶¶ 4-5)

         On July 14, 2017, Defendant terminated Plaintiffs employment. (Id. at ¶ 35) The termination notice specifically cited the following attendance violations over the preceding ninety days: six absences; thirty-seven instances of tardiness, which were defined as being more than seven minutes late; and twenty-four instances of leaving work early. (Id. at ¶¶ 35-36)

         On January 10, 2018, Plaintiff dual filed charges of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") and the Missouri Commission on Human Rights ("MCHR"). (Pet. for Damages ¶ 5, ECF No. 5) She received right to sue notices from the EEOC on March 19, 2018 and the MCHR on May 17, 2018. (Id. at ¶¶ 6-7) In June 2018, Plaintiff initiated this civil action against Defendant in state court asserting violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 12101, etseq., and the Missouri Human Rights Act (MHRA), Mo. Rev. Stat. § 213.010 etseq. (Id. at 1 & 5) Plaintiff alleges that Defendant's stated reason for terminating her employment was false and a pretext for discrimination based on Gerkens's perception that Plaintiff was disabled because of her health impairments, which she asserts were the cause of her attendance issues. (Id. at ¶ 18)

         Defendant removed the case to federal court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331, 1367, and 1441(a). (ECF No. 1) In the-instant motion, Defendant argues it is entitled to summary judgment with respect to both claims of discrimination. (ECF No. 24) Plaintiff opposes the motion. (ECF No. 29)

         LEGAL STANDARD

         The Court may grant a motion for summary judgment if "the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c); Celotex Corp. v. Citrate, Ml U.S. 317, 322 (1986); Torgerson v. City of Rochester, 643 F.3d 1031, 1042 (8th Cir. 2011). The substantive law determines which facts are critical and which are irrelevant. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). Only disputes over facts that might affect the outcome will properly preclude summary judgment. Id. Summary judgment is not proper if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party. Id.

         A moving party always bears the burden of informing the Court of the basis of its motion. Celotex Corp., Ml U.S. at 323. Once the moving party discharges this burden, the nonmoving party must set forth specific facts demonstrating that there is a dispute as to a genuine issue of material fact, not the "mere existence of some alleged factual dispute." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e); Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248. The nonmoving party may not rest upon mere allegations or denials of his pleading. Id.

         In passing on a motion for summary judgment, the Court must view the facts in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party, and all justifiable inferences are to be drawn in his favor. Celotex Corp., 477 U.S. at 331. The Court's function is not to weigh the evidence but to determine whether there is a genuine issue for trial. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 249. "Credibility determinations, the weighing of the evidence, and the drawing of legitimate inferences from the facts are jury functions, not those of a judge." Torgerson, 643 F.3d at 1042 (quoting Reeves v. Sanderson Plumbing Prods., Inc., 530 U.S. 133, 150 (2000)).

         DISCUSSION

         Defendant moves for summary judgment by arguing that Plaintiff has failed to establish a prima facie case of discrimination under either the ADA or MHRA, that it had a legitimate and non-discriminatory reason for terminating her employment, and that Plaintiff has not shown that reason was pretextual.

         I. ...


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