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Tidwell v. IMPAQ International LLC

United States District Court, D. Maryland

January 12, 2016

MIGUEL D. TIDWELL, pro se, Plaintiff,
v.
IMPAQ INTERNATIONAL, LLC, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          Richard D. Bennett United States District Judge.

         Pro se plaintiff Miguel D. Tidwell filed this action against defendant IMPAQ International, LLC (“IMPAQ”) alleging unlawful discrimination in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. § 12101, et seq. (“ADA”).

         Currently pending are Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment (“Plaintiff's Motion”) (ECF No. 33) and Defendant's Cross-Motion to Dismiss, or, in the Alternative, for Summary Judgment (“Defendant's Motion”) (ECF No. 34). The parties' submissions have been reviewed, and no hearing is necessary. See Local Rule 105.6 (D. Md. 2016). For the reasons stated below, Plaintiff's Motion is DENIED and Defendant's Motion is GRANTED. Specifically, Tidwell's claims for violations of the ADA's confidentiality provisions, unlawful suspension, and constructive discharge are DISMISSED, and Summary Judgment is ENTERED in favor of IMPAQ on the claim for failure to provide reasonable accommodation.

         BACKGROUND

         Defendant IMPAQ is a public policy research firm located in Ellicott City, Maryland that provides services to an array of clients throughout the United States. (ECF No. 34-3 at ¶ 2.) Plaintiff Miguel D. Tidwell worked for defendant as an interviewer from May 2006 until October 31, 2014. (ECF No. 2 at 1, 3.) As an interviewer, Tidwell was responsible for administering computer based surveys to respondents over the telephone. (Id. at ¶ 3.) Plaintiff alleges that “higher expectations” with respect to his workload were implemented in the survey center in October-November 2013. (ECF No. 2 at 2.) Plaintiff then notified IMPAQ's Human Resources department of his mental disability[1] and glaucoma in order to seek an accommodation-namely, a reduced workload. (Id. at 2.) Plaintiff alleges that in response to his request, IMPAQ made a verbal accommodation for Tidwell to follow a productivity goal of seven surveys per hour. (Id.) IMPAQ disputes this allegation. (ECF No. 34-1 at 8.)

         IMPAQ then requested that Mr. Tidwell supply further information regarding his disability. Tidwell initially supplied a letter he had prepared himself. (ECF No. 34-17.) Plaintiff later supplied a letter from Denise Katz, his treating mental health provider. (ECF No. 34-18.) Ms. Katz sought several accommodations for Mr. Tidwell, including that Mr. Tidwell's productivity goal be reduced from the standard thirteen interviews per hour to seven interviews per hour. (Id.) IMPAQ granted several of the accommodations requested, but declined to permit the reduced workload goal of seven interviews per hour. (ECF No. 34-19.) IMPAQ did, however, agree to a productivity goal of ten interviews per hour, notwithstanding the fact that all employees operated under a thirteen interviews per hour goal at that time. (Id.; ECF No. 34-11 at ¶3.)

         Plaintiff further alleges that at some point in October or November 2013, another employee of defendant, Stephanie Naber, placed a sign on the back of his chair which “indicated that I have a disability…” (ECF No. 2 at 1.) The sign stated: “This Chair Is Reserved For Miguel Tidwell For Ergonomic Reasons When Working.” (Id. at 3-4.) Tidwell alleges that “everyone knows the word Ergonomic indicates a disability, ” and that the sign thus revealed his disability to his coworkers. Plaintiff alleges that the sign not only identified him as a “Disabled Individual, ” but also “shared [his] Personal, Private, Confidential information throughout the Company, and made a spectacle of [him].” (Id. at 4.)

         Tidwell resigned from his position on October 31, 2014, and subsequently filed a Charge of Discrimination against IMPAQ with the Howard County Office of Human Rights (“OHR”) in Columbia, Maryland. (ECF No. 34-22.) The Charge was cross-filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”). (ECF No. 34-23.) The OHR concluded that there was “no reasonable cause to believe that [plaintiff] was discriminated against as a result of a disability or perceived disability.” (Id. at 10.) Tidwell sought review with the EEOC, which adopted the findings of the OHR and issued plaintiff a right to sue letter. (ECF No. 1-1.) Plaintiff subsequently filed suit in the Circuit Court for Howard County, Maryland, and defendant removed the case to this Court. (ECF No. 1.)

         STANDARDS OF REVIEW

         I. Motion to Dismiss Pursuant to Rule 12(b)(1)

         A motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(1) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure for lack of subject matter jurisdiction challenges a court's authority to hear the matter brought by a complaint. See Davis v. Thompson, 367 F.Supp.2d 792, 799 (D. Md. 2005). This challenge under Rule 12(b)(1) may proceed either as a facial challenge, asserting that the allegations in the complaint are insufficient to establish subject matter jurisdiction, or a factual challenge, asserting “that the jurisdictional allegations of the complaint [are] not true.” Kerns v. United States, 585 F.3d 187, 192 (4th Cir. 2009) (citation omitted). A plaintiff carries the burden of establishing subject matter jurisdiction. Lovern v. Edwards, 190 F.3d 648, 654 (4th Cir. 1999). With respect to a facial challenge, a court will grant a motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction “where a claim fails to allege facts upon which the court may base jurisdiction.” Davis, 367 F.Supp.2d at 799. Where the challenge is factual, “the district court is entitled to decide disputed issues of fact with respect to subject matter jurisdiction.” Kerns, 585 F.3d at 192. “[T]he court may look beyond the pleadings and ‘the jurisdictional allegations of the complaint and view whatever evidence has been submitted on the issue to determine whether in fact subject matter jurisdiction exists.'” Khoury v. Meserve, 268 F.Supp.2d 600, 606 (D. Md. 2003) (citation omitted). The court “may regard the pleadings as mere evidence on the issue and may consider evidence outside the pleadings without converting the proceeding to one for summary judgment.” Velasco v. Gov't of Indon., 370 F.3d 392, 398 (4th Cir. 2004); see also Sharafeldin v. Md. Dept. of Pub. Safety & Corr. Servs., 94 F.Supp.2d 680, 684-85 (D. Md. 2000).

         II. Motion to Dismiss Pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6)

         Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure authorizes the dismissal of a complaint if it fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). The purpose of Rule 12(b)(6) is “to test the sufficiency of a complaint and not to resolve contests surrounding the facts, the merits of a claim, or the applicability of defenses.” Presley v. City of Charlottesville, 464 F.3d 480, 483 (4th Cir. 2006); see also Goines v. Valley Cmty. Servs. Bd., 822 F.3d 159, 165-66 (4th Cir. 2016). The sufficiency of a complaint is assessed by reference to the pleading requirements of Rule 8(a)(2), which provides that a complaint must contain a “short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2).

         To survive a motion under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), a complaint must contain facts sufficient to “state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Bell Atl., Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007); Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 684 (2009). Under the plausibility standard, a complaint must contain “more than labels and conclusions” or a “formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of ...


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