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Rose v. Franciscan Alliance Inc.

United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division

June 5, 2018

MARY ROSE, Plaintiff,
v.
FRANCISCAN ALLIANCE INC., Defendant.

          ENTRY GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

          TANYA WALTON PRATT, JUDGE

         This matter is before the Court on a Motion for Summary Judgment filed pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56 by Defendant Franciscan Alliance, Inc. (“Franciscan”) (Filing No. 35). Franciscan is a network of hospitals and health care providers, serving patients in Indiana and Illinois. Plaintiff Mary Rose (“Rose”) is an employee of Franciscan, who was denied a new position at one of Franciscan's hospitals in central Indiana. After Rose was not offered the new position, and she initiated this lawsuit asserting a claim for disability discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, 42 U.S.C. § 12101 (“ADA”). Franciscan filed a Motion for Summary Judgment, asserting that Rose was not a qualified individual, and there is no evidence of discrimination on the basis of disability. For the following reasons, the Court grants Franciscan's Motion for Summary Judgment.

         I. BACKGROUND

         The following facts are not necessarily objectively true, but as required by Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56, the facts are presented in the light most favorable to Rose as the non-moving party. See Zerante v. DeLuca, 555 F.3d 582, 584 (7th Cir. 2009); Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255 (1986).

         In May 2011, Rose started a position at St. Francis Hospital (the “Hospital”), one of Franciscan's network hospitals, as a part-time registrar in Patient Access with a .2 FTE schedule[1], which required Rose to work two days every two weeks. Being a registrar involved obtaining demographic and insurance information from patients as well as handling other payment matters (Filing No. 1 at 2; Filing No. 35-3 at 1). The work was primarily sedentary but did require some movement and lifting up to 25 pounds. Rose met Franciscan's performance expectations and did not receive any discipline in the performance of her duties (Filing No. 1 at 2; Filing No. 35-4 at 3).

         Rose has cerebral palsy and a vision impairment (Filing No. 35-1 at 6). When she was hired, Franciscan was aware of Rose's disability. Id. at 7-8. During her employment in the registrar position, Franciscan considered Rose to be a hard worker and a valued employee with a very strong work ethic (Filing No. 35-3 at 1).

         In September 2014, Rose accepted a position at St. Francis' Greenwood Imaging Center (the “Imaging Center”) with a .5 FTE schedule (Filing No. 35-2 at 1). The Imaging Center is owned in part by Franciscan and is operated as an outpatient department of the Hospital (Id.; Filing No. 35-3 at 1-2). Accepting this new position required Rose to change her .2 FTE registrar position with the Hospital to PRN[2] status, meaning she no longer worked regularly scheduled hours and only worked if called in to do so (Filing No. 35-2 at 1; Filing No. 35-5).

         In May 2015, Rose obtained a note from her physician, Kenneth Young (“Dr. Young”), indicating Rose required some work restrictions. Dr. Young directed Rose to limit her walking and standing, elevate her legs as much as possible, and wear support hose (Filing No. 35-6). Dr. Young noted that Rose would be re-examined in three months. Id. Rose brought this note to Franciscan, and in response, Franciscan moved her to a new position in the Hospital's triage department, but her registrar title and PRN status did not change (Filing No. 35-2 at 1-2). The triage position reduced the amount of walking and standing Rose would have to do while on the job and allowed her to elevate her legs. Id. Rose did not want to be removed from her registrar position (Filing No. 35-22 at 1).

         In August 2015, Dr. Young issued another work restriction note, indicating the same limitations were in place for Rose and that the limitations should be extended for another three months (Filing No. 35-8).

         In September 2015, a .8 FTE Patient Access position became available at the Hospital. The position was a “set schedule” position. Rose applied for this position while still working in the .5 FTE position in the Imaging Center. The responsibilities of this .8 FTE position were the same duties Rose performed in her Patient Access registrar position, only this new position required more hours (Filing No. 35-3 at 2-3; Filing No. 42-6 at 1). Rose asked her supervisor, Sarah Oliphant (“Oliphant”), whether she needed to “reapply” for the position, and Oliphant responded that she did not need to, but she would need to provide a doctor's note. Rose asked what the doctor's note needed to say, to which Oliphant responded, “The note needs to state you are able to ambulate the distance to triage, that you are able to work the 8 days on a consistent basis.” (Filing No. 35-9 at 1.) Rose obtained a note from Dr. Young, which read, “Patient is able to walk the distance to triage & may work 8 days on a consistent basis every 2 weeks.” Id. at 2. Working eight days on a consistent basis every two weeks equated to a .8 FTE position. On September 24, 2015, Dr. Young's office faxed the note to Rose at the Imaging Center, and Rose took the note to Oliphant the following day (Id.; Filing No. 42-6 at 1).

         On September 25, 2015, Oliphant contacted Dr. Young's office at the request of Franciscan's Director of Patient Access, Sharla Rhodes (“Rhodes”). They needed clarification regarding the work restriction described in Dr. Young's note (Filing No. 35-2 at 2; Filing No. 35-13). Franciscan asserts that they were confused about the applicability of the eight-day work restriction and whether it applied only to Rose's potential position in Patient Access or whether it applied to all of Rose's positions, including her position in the Imaging Center (Filing No. 35-2 at 2).[3] Without Rose's knowledge, Oliphant contacted Dr. Young's office to seek clarification about Rose's work restriction (Filing No. 42-6 at 1).

         When Oliphant called Dr. Young's office to obtain clarification she was not provided with any information about the restriction (Filing No. 35-11 at 15; Filing No. 35-2 at 2). Dr. Young's staff called Rose to explain that they had received a telephone call from Oliphant about the work restriction. Rose was unhappy that Oliphant had called Dr. Young's office without asking her first. (Filing No. 42-6 at 1-2.) She insisted that Dr. Young's office protect her HIPAA rights before releasing any information. Before any information was released, Rose wanted to know what medical information was being sought and wanted a HIPAA release on file. However, Rose did not instruct “anyone at Dr. Young's office to refuse to cooperate with St. Francis.” Id. at 2.

         Dr. Young's staff never instructed Rose to come to their office to sign a HIPAA release. Rather, they told Rose that they would take care of it and ask St. Francis for a release. Rose also was not asked by anyone at St. Francis to sign a HIPAA release. Id.

Dr. Young's medical record of the telephone call with Rose indicates,
[Rose] stated she is going to work at St. Francis emergency room 8 days every two weeks . . . and at Greenwood Imaging . . . . She said she has to work these hours. She doesn't want us to tell them anything. I told her we can't because we have to have her written permission to do that.

(Filing No. 35-12 at 16). Dr. Young and his staff testified that Rose directed them not to release any information to Franciscan (Filing No. 35-19 at 11-13; Filing No. 35-12 at 16; Filing No. 35-17 at 5).

         After the telephone call with Rose, Dr. Young's staff called Oliphant and explained, “We cannot discuss anything on behalf of [Rose] with [you] unless [Rose] releases in writing that we can talk to [you].” (Filing No. 35-12 at 4.) Neither Franciscan nor Rose provided a HIPAA release to Dr. Young's office (Filing No. 42-9 at 7). Franciscan never received clarification about the eight-day work restriction from Rose or Dr. Young's office (Filing No. 35-2 at 3; Filing No. 35-11 at 15).

         In the following weeks, Rose made several attempts to follow up on the status of the open position. On September 30, 2015, she emailed Oliphant to ask if there was “any word” on the position (Filing No. 42-1). On October 2, 2015, she emailed Oliphant to ask if she needed to reapply. Oliphant responded that she did not need to reapply. Rose replied, asking if Oliphant had everything she needed from her and Dr. Young's office (Filing No. 42-2). On October 7, 2015, Rose emailed Carrie Ball (“Ball”), Franciscan's Manager of Patient Access, and copied Oliphant on the email. She noted that she had applied for the position, asked for a timetable of when a decision would be made, and asserted, “I did provide all statements from my Dr that sarah has requested ??” [sic] (Filing No. 42-3).

         On October 8, 2015, Oliphant sent a response email only to Ball and explained that Dr. Young's office would not provide clarification about the work restriction and that Rose was not planning to leave her position at the Imaging Center, which would result in her working more than .8 FTE. Oliphant asked Ball if they needed to talk with Human Resources, and Ball asked Oliphant to contact Human Resources to get guidance on the situation (Filing No. 35-13). On October 12, 2015, Rose sent another follow-up email to Ball (Filing No. 42-4).

         Human Resources informed Ball and Rhodes that they needed to comply with Dr. Young's restrictions for Rose in relation to all of Rose's positions, not just the .8 FTE position for which Rose applied (Filing No. 35-2 at 3; Filing No. 35-10 at 6). On October 15, 2015, Cindy Erickson in Human Resources informed Ball that someone in Human Resources was going to contact Rose to “discuss the information provided to us by her physician and the need to work within those guidelines.” (Filing No. 35-14 at 3.)

         On October 19, 2015, Sherri Clark (“Clark”), a human resources generalist, called Rose and left a voicemail message for her (Filing No. 35-15 at 1-2). On October 20, 2015, Rose and Clark connected, and Rose explained that she intended to continue working in the Imaging Center and asserted that it was “a separate HR.” Id. at 1. Clark responded that the Imaging Center and the Hospital were under the same Franciscan umbrella, so any combined employment would have to be .8 FTE. After Rose further explained the separate HRs and separate accrual of benefits on October 21, 2015, Clark reiterated that both the Imaging Center and the Hospital were under the same Franciscan umbrella, and she was limited to .8 FTE under all positions pursuant to her doctor's order. Id.

         On October 22, 2015, Ball spoke with Rose and explained that the Hospital could not work her more than a .3 FTE position based on her doctor's restriction because of her other .5 FTE position in the Imaging Center. Ball further informed Rose that she could not be given the .8 FTE position, but she would be kept on in her PRN status. She also told Rose that the Hospital could work her more hours if the doctor's restrictions were lifted (Filing No. 35-18). Additionally, Ball told Rose that one of her options to be eligible for the .8 FTE position was to resign from her .5 FTE position in the Imaging Center (Filing No. 35-20; Filing No. 35-10 at 30-31). Because Rose did not want to resign from her .5 FTE position in the Imaging Center, Franciscan did not offer the .8 FTE Patient Access position to Rose (Filing No. 35-2 at 3-4).

         Dr. Young issued another note continuing Rose's same work restrictions in February 2016 (Filing No. 35-21). The last shift that Rose worked at the Hospital was on May 29, 2016, and she has not requested a PRN shift since her May 29, 2016 shift (Filing No. 35-1 at 43, 46). Rose is still employed in the Imaging Center. Id. at 9.

         On September 18, 2015, Rose filed a charge of discrimination with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”), alleging that Franciscan discriminated against her on the basis of her disability from May 2015 through September 2015. Rose alleged that the disability discrimination occurred after she provided a doctor's note in May 2015, which limited her walking and standing, and Franciscan unilaterally moved her from the Patient Access registrar position to the triage position and changed her status to PRN (Filing No. 35-22 at 1-2). On December 9, 2015, she amended her EEOC charge of discrimination, adding the allegation that Franciscan discriminated against her on the basis of her disability when it denied her the .8 FTE position in October 2015. Id. at 3-4.

         On November 25, 2016, Rose filed this lawsuit, asserting a claim against Franciscan for disability discrimination under the ADA (Filing No. 1). After answering the Complaint, Franciscan filed its Motion for Summary Judgment, arguing that Rose was not a qualified individual and there is no evidence of discrimination on the basis of disability (Filing No. 35).

         II. SUMMARY JUDGMENT STANDARD

         The purpose of summary judgment is to pierce the pleadings and to assess the proof in order to see whether there is a genuine need for trial.” Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587106 S.Ct. 1348 (1986). Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56 provides that summary judgment is appropriate 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 a judgment as a matter of law.” Hemsworth v. Quotesmith.com, Inc., 476 F.3d 487, 489-90 (7th Cir. 2007). In ruling on a motion for summary judgment, the court reviews “the record in the light most favorable to the non-moving party and draw[s] all reasonable inferences in that party's favor.” Zerante, 555 F.3d at 584 (citation omitted). “However, inferences that are supported by only speculation or conjecture will not defeat a summary judgment motion.” Dorsey v. Morgan Stanley, 507 F.3d 624, 627 (7th Cir. 2007) (citation and quotation marks omitted). Additionally, “[a] party who bears the burden of proof on a particular issue may not rest on its pleadings, but must affirmatively demonstrate, by specific factual allegations, that there is a genuine issue of material fact that requires trial.” Hemsworth, 476 F.3d at 490 (citation omitted). “The opposing party cannot meet this burden with conclusory statements or speculation but only with appropriate citations to relevant admissible evidence.” Sink v. Knox County Hosp., 900 F.Supp. 1065, 1072 (S.D. Ind. 1995) (citations omitted).

         “In much the same way that a court is not required to scour the record in search of evidence to defeat a motion for summary judgment, nor is it permitted to conduct a paper trial on the merits of [the] claim.” Ritchie v. Glidden Co., 242 F.3d 713, 723 (7th Cir. 2001) (citations and quotation marks omitted). “[N]either the mere existence of some alleged factual dispute between the parties nor the existence of some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts is sufficient to defeat a motion for summary judgment.” Chiaramonte v. Fashion Bed Grp., Inc., 129 F.3d 391, 395 (7th Cir. 1997) (citations and quotation marks omitted).

         The Court views the designated evidence in the light most favorable to Rose, as the non-moving party and draws all reasonable inferences in her favor. Bright v. CCA, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 162264, at *8 (S.D. Ind. Nov. 14, 2013). “However, employment discrimination cases are extremely fact-intensive, and neither appellate courts nor district courts are obliged in our adversary system to scour the record looking for factual disputes.” Id. at *8-9 (citation and quotation marks omitted).

         III. DISCUSSION

         Franciscan argues that it is entitled to summary judgment on Rose's ADA claim because Rose was not a “qualified individual” with a disability to be able to support her claim, Rose caused a breakdown in the interactive process, there is no evidence to support the elements of a disability discrimination claim, and Franciscan had a legitimate non-discriminatory reason for not offering Rose the .8 FTE position. Franciscan also asserts that some of the facts and evidence that Rose offers fall outside the scope of the EEOC charge and thus cannot be considered by the Court. Rose argues that the evidence supports her ADA ...


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