United States District Court, D. Utah
APRIL M. REYNOLDS, Plaintiff,
AUTOZONE, INC. a.k.a. AUTOZONERS, LLC, Defendant.
MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER GRANTING
DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY
Stewart United States District Judge
matter is before the Court on Defendant's Motion for
Summary Judgment. For the reasons discussed below, the Court
will grant the Motion.
April Reynolds was hired by Defendant AutoZone, Inc. on July
16, 2009, and was employed as a full-time sales associate.
Plaintiff began having knee problems in 2010. Plaintiff's
weight contributed to arthritis in her knees.
December 19, 2010, Plaintiff transferred to a different
AutoZone store where she continued to work as a full-time
sales associate. Plaintiff was then promoted to Parts Sales
Manager and again to Commercial Sales Manager
(“CSM”). The job description for the CSM position
includes the following physical requirements:
• Frequently bending, twisting, and rotating trunk, arms
• Standing 100% of the time; walking 99% of the time;
climbing 10% of the time
• Working with arms extended and bent constantly
• Frequently moving parts and stock weighing up to 35
lbs., 10 to 50 feet
• Occasionally moving parts and stock weighing up to 50
lbs.; pushing and pulling occasionally
• Frequently moving merchandise weighing 10-25 lbs. from
floor to counter
• Occasionally moving and stocking overhead shelves with
parts weighing 5 - 15 lbs .
• Constant gross hand and finder dexterity; frequently
grasping and manipulating
• Constant hand and eye coordination
November 8, 2013, Plaintiff received gastric sleeve bariatric
surgery. On November 18, 2013, one of Plaintiff's
doctors, Richard L. Glines, M.D., stated in a letter that
Plaintiff required the use of a cane through January 2014 for
degenerative joint disease of the left knee. On November 23,
2013, Plaintiff was released to work with no restrictions in
relation to her gastric sleeve surgery.
Plaintiff returned to work following her surgery, Victor
Vickrey, AutoZone's Regional Human Resource Manager
visited Plaintiff's store and noticed Plaintiff using a
cane. Vickrey asked Plaintiff to provide another physician
report listing her exact restrictions.
December 19, 2013, Derek Boam, M.D., released Plaintiff to
work with certain restrictions. Those restrictions included
not lifting, carrying, pushing, or pulling anything over 20
pounds. Additionally, Plaintiff was limited in her ability to
squat, crouch, climb stairs or ladders, kneel, crawl, do
overhead work, stand, and walk. These restrictions were to
remain in place until February 14, 2014.
this report was prepared, Vickrey met with Plaintiff on
December 30, 2013. Plaintiff confirmed that she had
difficulty performing the following job functions: standing,
kneeling, walking, lifting, climbing, pulling, and stocking
shelves. She additionally listed the following job-related
limitations: squatting, climbing, lifting over 20 pounds, and
pushing or pulling over 20 pounds.
form completed that day, Plaintiff requested having an
additional person at the store whenever she was scheduled to
assist her. Plaintiff contends that Vickrey instructed
her to write this and what she was actually requesting was an
informal accommodation where other workers already present
would provide help when needed. After this request, Defendant
decided to place Plaintiff on a leave of absence, effective
until February 19, 2014.
again saw Dr. Boam on February 18, 2014. Dr. Boam noted the
same restrictions. He also stated that Plaintiff required a
knee replacement and must use a cane when ambulatory. These
restrictions were in place until May 19, 2014. Defendant then
extended Plaintiff's leave.
2, 2014, Plaintiff had a partial knee replacement performed.
On August 28, 2014, Dan Richards, D.O., released Plaintiff to
return work on September 8, 2014, with the same restrictions
previously imposed. Defendant again extended Plaintiff's
leave. Plaintiff concedes that she was not able to work from
June 2014 to September 2014.
met with Vickrey and District Manager Barry Funk on February
3, 2015. Plaintiff informed Vickrey and Funk that she was
about to have surgery on her other knee and, therefore,
remained on leave.
February 19, 2015, Dr. Richards performed surgery on
Plaintiff's other knee, replacing the right knee cap.
18, 2015, Dr. Richards released Plaintiff to return to work,
again with restrictions. On June 9, 2015, Plaintiff requested
an accommodation that would allow someone else to climb
ladders for her and help put away parts.
returned to work on June 22, 2015. Plaintiff voluntarily
terminated her employment on August 3, 2015.
SUMMARY JUDGMENT STANDARD
judgment is appropriate “if the movant shows that there
is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant
is entitled to judgment as a matter of
law.” In considering whether a genuine dispute
of material fact exists, the Court determines whether a
reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving
party in the face of all the evidence
presented. The Court is required to construe all
facts and reasonable inferences in the light most favorable
to the nonmoving party.
asserts the following causes of action: failure to
accommodate; disability discrimination; retaliation; and
gender discrimination. Each claim will be discussed below.
DISCRIMINATION UNDER THE ADA
under the ADA encompasses three types of discrimination:
disparate treatment, failure to accommodate, and disparate
impact. Plaintiff brings claims for disparate
treatment and failure to accommodate. “Where, as here,
an ADA plaintiff seeks to proceed to trial exclusively on the
basis of circumstantial evidence of discrimination, [the
Tenth Circuit has] held that ‘the analytical framework
first articulated in' McDonnell Douglas . . .
controls our analysis.” Under that framework, Plaintiff
must first establish a prima facie case of
discrimination. If a plaintiff establishes a prima facie
case of discrimination, the burden then shifts to the
defendant to articulate a legitimate, non-discriminatory
reason for the adverse employment action. Once the
defendant articulates a legitimate, non-discriminatory reason
for its action, the burden shifts back to the plaintiff to
prove, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the
defendant's reasons are pretextual.
provides that discrimination includes “not making
reasonable accommodations to the known physical or mental
limitations of an otherwise qualified individual with a
disability who is an . . . employee, unless such covered
entity can demonstrate that the accommodation would impose an
undue hardship on the operation of the business of such
covered entity.” A reasonable accommodation “may
include . . . job restructuring, part-time or modified work
schedules, reassignment to a vacant position, acquisition or
modification of equipment or devices, appropriate adjustment
or modifications of ...