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Andrews v. Waste Management Inc.

United States District Court, M.D. Tennessee, Nashville Division

June 18, 2018

KELLEY H. ANDREWS, Plaintiff,
v.
WASTE MANAGEMENT INC. OF TENNESSEE, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          WAVERLY D. CRENSHAW, JR.CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Kelley H. Andrews filed this action against his former employer, Waste Management Inc. of Tennessee (“WM”), alleging that WM violated the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act (“ADAAA”). (Doc. No. 16.) Before the Court is WM's Motion for Summary Judgment. (Doc. No. 25.) For the following reasons, the motion is granted in part and denied in part.

         I. Undisputed Facts

         Andrews began working at WM in 2013, where he, inter alia, drove a box truck route at WM's Rivergate MRF Recycling facility in Nashville (the “Route”). (Doc. No. 38 ¶¶ 1-2.) For most of Andrews's employment, a helper assisted him on the Route. (Id. ¶ 4.)

         Citing concerns with the Route's profitability, WM eliminated some customers on the Route and shortened the time spent at each stop in March 2014. (Id. ¶¶ 5-6.) The next month, WM removed Andrews's helper from the Route, and thereafter Andrews completed the Route alone. (Id. ¶ 7.) WM also reduced the Route from running five to three days per week, and Andrews worked at a WM warehouse the days he did not drive the Route. (Id. ¶ 9; Doc. No. 38-2, Sorensen Dep. at 18-19.)

         In October 2014, Andrews was diagnosed with prostate cancer and required radiation treatments. (Doc. No. 38 ¶ 10.) Andrews told his supervisor, Ron Sorensen, about his diagnosis, and Sorensen was understanding of Andrews's illness. (Id. ¶¶ 11-12.) WM granted Andrews's request for intermittent FMLA leave through December 31, 2014. (Id. ¶ 13.) During this time, Andrews generally received radiation treatment in the morning and then went to work. (Id. ¶ 14.) No. one at WM made negative remarks about Andrews's need for leave or indicated that his leave was problematic. (Id. ¶ 15.) Andrews's last radiation treatment was in December 2014, and he has since been cancer-free. (Id. ¶ 16.)

         In January 2015, WM eliminated the Route and Andrews's position, (Id. ¶¶ 18-19), allegedly due to the Route's profitability. (Id. ¶¶ 5-9, 17.) Another company, EarthSavers, took over the Route. (See id.) Andrews's employment with WM ended on February 13, 2015. (Id. ¶ 39.) Andrews's position at WM does not exist and WM did not hire anyone to replace him. (Id. ¶ 45.)

         Andrews applied for three positions with WM but was not rehired. (Id. ¶¶ 32, 34, 40.) On January 28, 2015, Andrews applied for a Roll-Off Driver position, requisition number 234208 (“Position 1”). (Id. ¶ 32.)[1] On January 29, 2015, Andrews applied for a Commercial Driver position, requisition number 239302 (“Position 2”). (Id. ¶ 34.) In March 2015, Andrews applied for a Commercial Driver position, requisition number 243017 (“Position 3”). (Id. ¶ 40.) Position 3 was cancelled before it was filled and no one was ever hired for it. (Id. ¶ 41.)

         II. Standard of Review

         Summary judgment is appropriate where there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a); Pennington v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co., 553 F.3d 447, 450 (6th Cir. 2009). The party bringing the summary judgment motion has the initial burden of informing the Court of the basis for its motion and identifying portions of the record that demonstrate the absence of a genuine dispute over material facts. Rodgers v. Banks, 344 F.3d 587, 595 (6th Cir. 2003). In deciding a motion for summary judgment, the Court must review all the evidence, facts, and inferences in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Van Gorder v. Grand Trunk W. R.R., Inc., 509 F.3d 265, 268 (6th Cir. 2007). The Court does not weigh the evidence, judge the credibility of witnesses, or determine the truth of the matter. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 249, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986). The Court determines whether sufficient evidence has been presented to make the material issue of fact a proper jury question. Id. The mere existence of a scintilla of evidence in support of the nonmoving party's position is insufficient to survive summary judgment; rather, there must be evidence on which the jury could reasonably find for the nonmoving party. Rodgers, 344 F.3d at 595.

         III. Discussion

         Andrews brings claims for disability discrimination under the ADAAA based on discriminatory termination and failure to hire. (Doc. No. 16.) WM moves for summary judgment on both claims. (Doc. No. 25.)

         A. Discriminatory Termination Claim

         A discriminatory termination claim follows the familiar burden-shifting analysis set forth in McDonnell Douglas Corp. v. Green, 411 U.S. 792, 93 S.Ct. 1817, 36 L.Ed.2d 668 (1972). To establish a disability discrimination claim using indirect evidence, a plaintiff must first establish a prima facie case of discrimination by showing: (1) he is disabled; (2) he is otherwise qualified for the position, with or without reasonable accommodation; (3) he suffered an adverse employment decision; (4) the employer knew or had reason to know of the plaintiff's disability; and (5) the position ...


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