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Bethscheider v. Westar Energy, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Kansas

September 27, 2019

DANAH LEE BETHSCHEIDER, Plaintiff,
v.
WESTAR ENERGY, INC., Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM & ORDER

          CARLOS MURGUIA UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Plaintiff Danah Lee Bethscheider was hired by defendant Westar Energy, Inc. as an Accounts Payable Analyst beginning January 27, 2014. Less than four months later, defendant terminated plaintiff for excessive absenteeism. Plaintiff now brings this case against defendant alleging she was terminated in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”). The matter is currently before the court on defendant’s Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 29). For the reasons set forth below, the court grants the motion.

         I. Background

         Plaintiff was hired by defendant as an Accounts Payable Analyst beginning January 27, 2014. Her day-to-day responsibilities included managing defendant’s corporate credit card program, which required plaintiff to communicate with other employees, vendors, and banks to make sure corporate credit cards were updated, used appropriately, successfully processed when used, and paid in a timely manner. Plaintiff was also responsible for managing pay cycles to ensure defendant’s vendors were paid the correct amounts in a timely fashion. According to the Summary of Job Responsibilities and Requirements, the scheduled work hours for the position were Monday-Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., and a “satisfactory work record including good attendance” was required. (Doc. 30-6, at 2–3.) According to plaintiff’s supervisor, Vicki Shurtz, Manager of the Accounts Payable Department, regular attendance was an essential function of the Accounts Payable Analyst position because many of the job duties were time sensitive and most effectively and efficiently resolved only through required immediate communication.

         In March 2014, plaintiff emailed Shurtz to request that her daily work schedule be from 8:00 a.m. to 4:40 p.m. each day, with a 30-minute lunch break. Shurtz agreed to the request. According to plaintiff’s “Supervisor File, ” Shurtz met with plaintiff in March 2014 and informed her “she couldn’t leave every day or frequent times during the week around 3:30 to pick up her daughter and call this lunch, ” and that she needed to “watch her attendance.” (Doc. 30-9, at 2.) Plaintiff also discussed with Shurtz that she needed elective eye surgery. Shurtz told her it would be best if she could wait until she had more sick leave built up, but that it was ultimately her decision. (Id.) In May 2014, Shurtz calle d plaintiff into her office to discuss “how she was feeling” because she had been gone the past two days for illness. She noted that other employees had commented that plaintiff was away from her desk multiple times a day for 10-15 minutes at a time.

         According to her file, plaintiff did not work the following days for the following reasons:

• January 29, 2014: Left work in the morning due to numbness in her arm;
• January 30, 2014: Called in sick due to a headache and numbness;
• February 5, 2014: Called to say she would not be coming in due to snow;
• February 12, 2014: Called in because of personal issues;
• February 13, 2014: Called in because of personal issues;
• March 28, 2014: Absent due to voluntary eye surgery;
• March 31, 2014: Absent due to voluntary ...

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