569 F.3d 562 (6th Cir. 2009), 08-5568, Milholland v. Sumner County Bd. of Educ.
|Citation:||569 F.3d 562|
|Opinion Judge:||ROGERS, Circuit Judge.|
|Party Name:||Sherry K. MILHOLLAND, M. Ed., Plaintiff-Appellant, v. SUMNER COUNTY BOARD OF EDUCATION; Benny C. Bills, Individually, Defendants-Appellees.|
|Attorney:||W. Gary Blackburn, Blackburn & McCune, PLLC, Nashville, Tennessee, for Appellant. Amber St. John, Law Office of Amber St. John, Smyrna, Tennessee, for Appellees. W. Gary Blackburn, Blackburn & McCune, PLLC, Nashville, Tennessee, for Appellant. Amber St. John, Law Office of Amber St. John, Smyrna,...|
|Judge Panel:||Before GUY, ROGERS, and GRIFFIN, Circuit Judges.|
|Case Date:||July 02, 2009|
|Court:||United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit|
Argued: April 28, 2009.
W. Gary Blackburn, Blackburn & McCune, PLLC, Nashville, Tennessee, for Appellant.
Amber St. John, Law Office of Amber St. John, Smyrna, Tennessee, for Appellees.
Sherry Milholland appeals the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of the defendants on her Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) claim. Milholland has worked for the Sumner County Board of Education as a teacher and administrator for fourteen years. Milholland suffered from arthritis and alleged that the Board's Director of Schools regarded her as disabled, and therefore transferred her from an administrative position to a classroom teaching position. The recently-enacted ADA Amendments Act of 2008 does not apply to this case. Under the prior version of the statute, the facts construed in the light most favorable to Milholland do not show a genuine issue for trial that the defendants regarded Milholland as disabled. The district court therefore properly ruled for the defendants.
Sherry Milholland has worked as a teacher and administrator for the Sumner
County Board of Education since 1995. In 2001, Milholland was diagnosed with inflammatory arthritis. Milholland's doctor never gave her any work restrictions and her condition did not limit her ability to perform either as a classroom teacher or as a school administrator. Milholland did not inform the Board of her condition nor did she ask for any accommodation.
At the time of Milholland's diagnosis, Benny Bills was working as the principal of Gallatin High School, and Milholland's husband was a teacher at that school. Milholland's husband generally discussed Milholland's health problems with Bills, but Milholland's husband never told Bills about Milholland's specific diagnosis. Bills continued to inquire about Milholland's health at social occasions. Bills later became the Director of Schools for Sumner County.
In May 2004, Milholland became one of the two assistant principals at Knox Doss Middle School. Her principal, Mike Brown, was aware of her medical condition. Milholland had a difficult working relationship with the other assistant principal, Rufus Lowe. Milholland told Brown that Lowe did not carry his share of the workload.
On March 13, 2006, Milholland met with Bills to discuss the issues at the school. Milholland complained about Lowe's performance and noted that it was increasing her own workload. Bills brought up Milholland's own performance, and Milholland claims that Bills said something to the effect of " Don't you think it would be easier on your health if you would just go back to the classroom?" Milholland Dep., p. 92. Bills admitted that he discussed Milholland's return to teaching, but stated that his comment was not related to Milholland's health. Rather he was only discussing the fact that administrative positions involved more work and stress than teaching positions. After the meeting, Milholland sent Bills a follow-up letter stating that she " simply wanted [Bills] to be aware that [she] strongly felt that [she] was plenty healthy enough to continue as an administrator, because [Bills] had brought up that question about going back to the classroom." Milholland Dep., p. 94. The letter stated that her " illness, thanks to a tremendous rheumatologist and new medications, is well under control." Milholland Dep., p. 94. Milholland asked to stay in an administrative position.
In early 2006, Brown and Bills met to discuss the situation at Knox Doss Middle School and Milholland and Lowe's working relationship. Although both Brown and Bills had greater problems with Lowe's performance than with Milholland's, they noted that " teachers did not have that working relationship of respect with Mrs. Milholland because there was always fraction, discord between [her and Lowe]." Bills Dep., p. 45. Brown and Bills decided to solve the problem by transferring both Milholland and Lowe from the school.1 Brown and Bills believed that transferring both employees would create a " clean slate with faculty, with parents, and with students." Bills Dep., p. 44-45. Brown filled out a request to transfer Milholland after the decision was made.
In April 2006, Milholland requested to be transferred to one of two positions: principal at Wessington Place Elementary School or Materials Center Supervisor at
the Board's Central Office. Brown recommended transfer to the principal position. Bills could have approved the transfer without interviewing...
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