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Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. UPS Ground Freight, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Kansas

July 27, 2018

EQUAL EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITY COMMISSION, Plaintiff,
v.
UPS GROUND FREIGHT, INC., d/b/a UPS FREIGHT, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          JULIE A. ROBINSON, CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Plaintiff Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) filed this suit against Defendant UPS Ground Freight, Inc. (“UPS Freight”), alleging: 1) it violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) by discriminating against Thomas Diebold on the basis of his disability (Count I); and 2) it has a facially discriminatory policy against disabled drivers in its current collective bargaining agreement with Defendant Teamsters National UPS Freight Negotiating Committee (the “CBA”) (Count II). This matter is before the Court on the EEOC's Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings on Count II, brought under Fed. R. Civ. P 12(c) (Doc. 13). The matter is fully briefed and the Court is prepared to rule. For the reasons stated below, the Court grants the EEOC's motion for judgment on the pleadings on Count II.

         I. Legal Standard

         The Court reviews a Rule 12(c) motion under the same standard that governs a Rule 12(b)(6) motion.[1] To survive a motion to dismiss under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), a complaint must present factual allegations, assumed to be true, that “raise a right to relief above the speculative level” and must contain “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.”[2] “[T]he complaint must give the court reason to believe that this plaintiff has a reasonable likelihood of mustering factual support for these claims.”[3] The plausibility standard does not require a showing of probability that a defendant has acted unlawfully, but requires more than “a sheer possibility.”[4] “[M]ere ‘labels and conclusions,' and ‘a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action' will not suffice; a plaintiff must offer specific factual allegations to support each claim.”[5] Finally, the Court must accept the nonmoving party's factual allegations as true and may not dismiss on the ground that it appears unlikely the allegations can be proven.[6]

         The Supreme Court has explained the analysis as a two-step process. For the purposes of a motion to dismiss, the Court “must take all the factual allegations in the complaint as true, [but] we ‘are not bound to accept as true a legal conclusion couched as a factual allegation.'”[7] Thus, the Court must first determine if the allegations are factual and entitled to an assumption of truth, or merely legal conclusions that are not entitled to an assumption of truth.[8] Second, the Court must determine whether the factual allegations, when assumed true, “plausibly give rise to an entitlement to relief.”[9] “A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.”[10]

         If matters outside the complaint are reviewed, the Court generally must convert the motion to a Rule 56 motion for summary judgment.[11] However, the Court may consider documents that are referred to in the complaint.[12] Because the EEOC attached the CBA to the Amended Complaint, the Court may refer to it in resolving this motion without converting it to a motion for summary judgment.

         A motion for judgment on the pleadings should not be granted unless the movant has established that there are no material facts to be resolved and that the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.[13]

         II. Factual Allegations

         Unless stated otherwise, the following material facts are alleged in the Amended Complaint and undisputed by UPS Freight.[14] The Court will draw all reasonable factual inferences in favor of the nonmoving party, UPS Freight.

         UPS Freight is a party to a collective bargaining agreement with Teamsters National UPS Freight Negotiating Committee for the period August 1, 2013 through July 31, 2018. It was ratified in January 2014 and the term is due to expire at the end of this month. Article 21.3 of the CBA, titled “Medical Disqualification, ” states:

(a) A driver who is judged medically unqualified to drive, but is considered physically fit and qualified to perform other inside jobs, will be afforded the opportunity to displace the least senior full-time or casual inside employee at such work until he/she can return to his/her driving job. However, if the displacement of a full-time employee with a CDL would negatively affect the employer's operations, the medically disqualified driver may only displace a casual inside employee. “Red-circled” non-CDL cartage employees shall not be subject to displacement in this process. While performing the inside work, the driver will be paid ninety percent (90%) of the appropriate rate of pay for the full-time classification of work being performed. The Company shall attempt to provide eight (8) hours of work, if possible, out of available work.[15]

         Article 21.2, titled “Leave of Absence, ” states:

(a) When an employee in any job classification requiring driving has his/her operating privilege or license suspended or revoked for reasons other than medical disqualification or those for which the employee can be discharged by the Company, a leave of absence without loss of seniority, not to exceed two (2) years, shall be granted for such time as the employee's operating license has been suspended or revoked. The employee will be given available work opportunities to perform non-CDL required job functions.[16]

         Under Article 21.2(a), UPS Freight provides non-CDL required (non-driving) work at the full rate (100%) of pay to drivers whose CDLs are suspended or revoked for non-medical reasons, including convictions for driving while intoxicated. Yet under Article 21.3(a), UPS Freight provides full-time or casual inside work at only 90% of the rate of pay for the full-time classification of work being performed by drivers who become unable to drive due to medical disqualifications, including drivers who are individuals with disabilities within the meaning of the ADA.

         III. Discussion

         Section 102 of the ADA[17] states, in relevant part:

a) “No covered entity shall discriminate against a qualified individual on the basis of disability in regard to … employee compensation, job training, and other terms, conditions, and privileges of employment.”
b) As used in subsection (a) of this section, the term “discriminate against a qualified individual on the basis of disability” includes—
(2) Participating in a contractual or other arrangement or relationship that has the effect of subjecting a covered entity's qualified applicant or employee with a disability to the discrimination prohibited by this subchapter.

         The EEOC contends the CBA establishes a prima facie case of a discriminatory policy because it pays drivers disqualified for non-medical reasons 100% of pay rate, while paying drivers disqualified for medical reasons 90% of the appropriate rate of pay for the work being performed. UPS Freight responds that judgment on the pleadings is inappropriate because: 1) the EEOC relies upon a selective and erroneous interpretation of the CBA; 2) the CBA contains ambiguities that preclude judgment; 3) “whether the CBA works to the benefit or detriment of a medically disqualified driver depends entirely on the particular factual scenario in each case, ” which requires the Court to engage in a case-by-case analysis to determine if an employee has been discriminated;[18] and 4) the CBA does not limit the ...


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