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Fears v. Unified Goverment of Wyandotte County

United States District Court, D. Kansas

October 8, 2019

BRENDA A. FEARS, Plaintiff,
v.
UNIFIED GOVERNMENT OF WYANDOTTE COUNTY/KANSAS CITY, KANSAS, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          KATHRYN H. VRATIL UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         On November 22, 2017, Brenda A. Fears filed a complaint against the Unified Government of Wyandotte County/Kansas City, Kansas, alleging employment claims under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e et seq., and the American with Disabilities Act of 1990, 42 U.S.C. §§ 12101 et seq. Complaint (Doc. #1). This matter is before the Court on defendant's unopposed motion for summary judgment. Defendant's Motion For Summary Judgment (Doc. #52) filed July 3, 2019. For reasons stated below, the Court sustains defendant's motion.

         Factual Background

         The following facts are deemed admitted.[1]

         In 1983, plaintiff, who is black, was diagnosed with a progressive eye disease. In 2006, defendant hired plaintiff as an administrative support assistant in the Register of Deeds office. In 2012, plaintiff's vision took a turn for the worse. To address her increasing visual impairment, plaintiff's supervisors provided her with reasonable accommodations.

         As plaintiff's vision continued to deteriorate, she made frequent mistakes in her work and received multiple performance warnings. On one occasion, defendant suspended her for one day for incorrectly recording a filing fee.

         On September 21, 2015, plaintiff filed a complaint with the mayor and the human resources department, alleging race discrimination. On September 24, 2015, plaintiff's union filed a grievance on her behalf alleging disparate treatment based on race, but did not pursue it.

         Defendant attempted additional accommodations for plaintiff's visual impairment, but her performance continued to decline. Plaintiff's supervisor eventually concluded that she was unable to perform the essential functions of her job.

         On April 19, 2016, defendant placed plaintiff on paid leave while defendant's human resources office looked for another job that plaintiff could perform. Plaintiff, however, was unable to pass the required skills test for any open position.

         On June 10, 2016, plaintiff exhausted her paid leave time and defendant placed her on administrative leave for 60 days.

         In August of 2016, defendant placed plaintiff on an unpaid leave of absence pending her application for disability benefits from the Kansas Public Employees Retirement System (“KPERS”). In her KPERS application, plaintiff stated that she was unable to perform her job or any substantial gainful activity because of her vision and other ailments.

         In February of 2017, KPERS granted plaintiff's application for disability benefits effective October 18, 2016. KPERS determined that plaintiff was unable to perform the duties of her occupation due to her “physical conditions of vision, hypertension and shortness of breath that started on April 21, 2016.” After receiving notice that plaintiff's KPERS application was approved, defendant terminated her employment effective October 18, 2016.

         On January 14, 2017, the Social Security Administration (“SSA”) granted plaintiff's application for disability benefits. The SSA found that plaintiff became disabled on April 20, 2016. In her application for Social Security benefits, plaintiff stated that she became unable to work on April 20, 2016 because of her “disabling condition.”

         On May 1, 2017, plaintiff filed a charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”), alleging that defendant committed discriminatory and retaliatory acts before removing her from her position and terminating her employment on August 9, 2016.

         On November 22, 2017, plaintiff filed a complaint against defendant. As best the Court can ascertain and construed liberally, plaintiff asserts the following claims: (1) wrongful termination based on disability; (2) wrongful termination based on race; (3) failure to accommodate disability; (4) discrimination in terms and conditions of employment; (5) ...


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