United States District Court, W.D. North Carolina, Charlotte Division
DAVID S. CAYER, Magistrate Judge.
THIS MATTER is before the Court on the "Federal Defendant's Motion to Dismiss or, in the Alternative, for Summary Judgment, " Doc. 13, filed May 5, 2014 and the parties' briefs, Docs. 3, 11 and 14. The parties have consented to Magistrate Judge jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 636(c), and this Motion is now ripe for the Court's consideration.
After fully considering the arguments, the record, and the applicable authority, the Court GRANTS Defendant's Motion to Dismiss, as discussed below.
I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
Defendant Patrick R. Donahoe is the Postmaster General for the United States Postal Service ("USPS"). Plaintiff is employed by the USPS as a Sales Service Distribution Associate ("SSDA") at the USPS Charlotte Downtown Station. Plaintiff sustained injuries on the job, resulting in restrictions associated with a sprain/strain to her lumbar region. Plaintiff was offered and accepted a limited duty modified assignment in August 2010. Plaintiff's duties under the modified assignment included one hour of window operation, five hours of passport office duties, and two hours of letter casing five days a week. Plaintiff's hours were from 7:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. with Saturday and Sunday as her scheduled days off. Plaintiff reported directly to Supervisor of Customer Services William Erik Wall and indirectly to Ron Cole, who served as Manager of Customer Services.
Plaintiff suffers from plantar fibromatosis. This condition resulted in the following workplace restrictions: standing - one hour; walking - one hour; bending - one half hour; and pushing - one half hour. Plaintiff's lumbar injury resulted in additional workplace restrictions: sitting - five hours; standing - two hours; walking - two hours; reaching above shoulder - one hour; twisting - one hour; bending/stooping - one hour; pushing/pulling - one hour, ten pound weight limit; lifting - two hours, ten pound weight limit; squatting - two hours; kneeling - two hours; and climbing - two hours. These limitations became even more restrictive in September 2012 when Plaintiff's health care provider limited her standing and walking to one hour and imposed a one-hour reaching restriction.
Plaintiff seeks treatment for these conditions on an as-needed basis. According to Plaintiff, she is "able to carry on with all [her] major life activities by being extremely careful with the type of activities [she does] because of [her] back and feet." Doc. 13-2 at 5.
On July 15, 2012, Plaintiff instituted her EEO claim by filing her first of two Informations for Pre-Complaint Counseling ("Informal Complaint") with Defendant's EEO office. In her first Informal Complaint, Plaintiff alleged that she had been discriminated against on the basis of her race (African-American), sex (female) and physical disability (permanent work restrictions). On August 30, 2012, Plaintiff filed an EEO Complaint of Discrimination with the Postal Service ("Formal EEO Complaint") alleging harassment and discrimination on the basis of race, sex and disability. Plaintiff later sought to amend her Formal EEO Complaint to include retaliation, which was accepted on November 27, 2012. Plaintiff withdrew her claims for race and sex discrimination at the administrative level.
The parties conducted extensive discovery. On July 30, 2013, Defendant filed a Motion for Summary Judgment, to which Plaintiff responded on August 13, 2013. The EEOC Administrative Law Judge issued a Decision and Order Granting Summary Judgment in favor of Defendant on September 25, 2013. Plaintiff received a Notice of Right to File on October 5, - and commenced this action on January 2, 2014.
Plaintiff lists six causes of action alleging that she was subjected to a hostile work environment because of her work restrictions. On May 5, 2014, Defendant filed his Motion to Dismiss, Doc. 13. Defendant argues that Plaintiff's Complaint does not allege facts showing that she is disabled within the meaning of the Rehabilitation Act nor does she allege facts showing any adverse employment action or causal relation between any adverse employment action and her alleged disability. Defendant also argues that the USPS had legitimate business reasons for the actions it took regarding Plaintiff. In her Response to Defendant's Motion to Dismiss, Doc. 16, Plaintiff does not contest any of Defendant's factual assertions, but states in a conclusory fashion that she is disabled because she is unable to lift ten pounds.
The Motion has been fully briefed and is now ripe for review.
A. Standard of Review
In reviewing a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, "the court should accept as true all well pleaded allegations and should view the complaint in a light most favorable to the plaintiff." Mylan Labs., Inc. v. Matkari , 7 F.3d 1130, 1134 (4th Cir. 1993). The plaintiff's "[f]actual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level." Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly , 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). "[O]nce a claim has been stated adequately, it may be supported by showing any set of facts consistent with the allegations in the complaint." Id. at 563. A complaint attacked by a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss will survive if it contains enough facts to "state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Ashcroft v. Iqbal , 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Twombly , 550 ...