Equal Emp't Opportunity Comm'n v. Am. Tool & Mold, Inc., Case No. 8:12–cv–2772–T–35EAJ.

CourtUnited States District Courts. 11th Circuit. United States District Court of Middle District of Florida
Writing for the CourtMARY S. SCRIVEN
Citation21 F.Supp.3d 1268
PartiesEQUAL EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITY COMMISSION, Plaintiff, v. AMERICAN TOOL & MOLD, INC., Defendant.
Decision Date16 April 2014
Docket NumberCase No. 8:12–cv–2772–T–35EAJ.

21 F.Supp.3d 1268

EQUAL EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITY COMMISSION, Plaintiff,
v.
AMERICAN TOOL & MOLD, INC., Defendant.

Case No. 8:12–cv–2772–T–35EAJ.

United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Tampa Division.

Signed April 16, 2014


Motions granted.

[21 F.Supp.3d 1270]

Ana Consuelo Martinez, Kimberly A. McCoy–Cruz, U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Miami, FL, for Plaintiff.

George E. Tragos, Tragos & Sartes, PL, Peter Anthony Sartes, The Law Offices of Tragos & Sartes, PL, Clearwater, FL, for Defendant.


ORDER

MARY S. SCRIVEN, District Judge.

THIS CAUSE comes before the Court for consideration of the Motion for Summary Judgment (Dkt. 67) filed by Plaintiff, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”), the Motion for Summary Judgment (Dkt. 68) filed by Plaintiff Intervenor Michael Matanic (“Matanic”), the Response in opposition thereto filed by Defendant, American Tool & Mold, Inc. (“ATM”) (Dkt. 74), and the Reply in Support (Dkt. 83) filed by the EEOC. Upon consideration of all relevant filings, case law, and being otherwise fully advised, the Court GRANTS Plaintiffs' motions for summary judgment.

I. BACKGROUND

The EEOC has moved for summary judgment on its claim that ATM violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”), 42 U.S.C. § 12102 et seq. in its handling of Michael Matanic's application for employment and subsequent pre-employment physical examination, and on ATM's affirmative defense of failure to conciliate. (Dkt. 67 at 12–25) In sum, the EEOC argues that ATM violated the ADA by regarding Matanic as disabled after he informed ATM of a back surgery he underwent several years prior to applying to ATM.

The Court permitted the EEOC to reveal certain information made confidential by 42 U.S.C. § 2000e–5(b) related to the failure to conciliate defense. (Dkt. 81) Thereafter, ATM gave “notice of its withdrawal [of] its Failure to Conciliate Affirmative Defense found in paragraph 61 of the Answer.” (Dkt. 90) Accordingly, the Court need not address the failure to conciliate defense, as Defendant has abandoned it.

Matanic has likewise moved for summary judgment on his claims for violations of the ADA and the Florida Civil Rights Act. However, “[b]ecause federal case law is applicable to claims arising under the Florida Civil Rights Act (‘FCRA’), [the] claims under the ADA and the FCRA will be analyzed together.” Markwart v. United Parcel Serv., Inc., 2:13–CV–186–FTM–38, 2013 WL 3864347, at *2 n. 2 (M.D.Fla. July 24, 2013); Myers v. Winn–Dixie Stores, Inc., 8:10–CV–1987–T–17TGW, 2012 WL 529552, at *12 (M.D.Fla. Feb. 10, 2012) (“Because the Florida Civil Rights Act (‘FCRA’) is nearly identical to the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, 42 U.S.C. Secs. 12101 et seq. (‘ADA’), federal law interpreting the ADA is applicable to claims arising under the FCRA.”) (citing Holly v. Clairson Industries, L.L.C., 492 F.3d 1247, 1255 (11th Cir.2007)).

[21 F.Supp.3d 1271]

II. FACTS

American Tool & Mold, Inc. (“ATM”) custom designs and manufactures molds for injection plastics and plastic parts. (Dkt. 75 at 1) ATM's work is separated into two “sides:” the technical side, which physically creates parts, and the molding side, which works with customers to design the parts and tools. (Dkt. 75 at 1–2)

Emilia Giannakopoulos is the company's Chief Executive Officer. (Dkt. 75 at 2) ATM's President and CEO have no role in the pre-employment screening process and leave those matters to the Human Resources Department. (Dkt. 75 at 2) Demetre Loulourgas, Emilia's father, is ATM's President. (Dkt. 75 at 2) Penelope “Penny” Loulourgas, Emilia's mother, is ATM's Treasurer and Vice–President and has been the head of the Human Resources Department since 2005. (Dkt. 75 at 2) Michael Eikenberry was ATM's General Manager and ran ATM's operations in 2009 and 2010. Eikenberry reported to the President and CEO. (Dkt. 75 at 2)

On October 22, 2009, Mr. Eikenberry, recruited and extended an offer of employment to Michael D. Matanic (“Matanic”) for the position of Process Engineer. (Dkt. 75 at 5) The offer required medical testing to determine Matanic's ability to perform the essential functions of the position. (Dkt. 75 at 5)

During the relevant time frame, up to and including the present, the job description for Process Technician 1 at ATM includes the minimum requirement of a high school diploma or equivalent. (Dkt. 75 at 10) Matanic did not have a high school diploma. (Dkt. 75 at 5)

Matanic presented himself to ATM on November 6, 2009, had a tour of the facility, completed an employment application and related paperwork, and was sent to Lakeside Occupational Medical Clinic 3 (“Lakeside”) for ATM's mandatory pre-employment screening. (Dkt. 75 at 6)

ATM retained the services of Lakeside to conduct its pre-employment physical examinations and drug tests. Lakeside documents its findings and reports them to ATM. (Dkt. 75 at 2) ATM has contracted with Lakeside for these functions for at least the past 10 years and, according to Lakeside, since 1979. (Dkt. 75 at 2)

ATM's human resources department coordinates the scheduling of preemployment medical screenings with Lakeside, and its head, Penelope Loulourgas, is Lakeside's primary contact. (Dkt. 75 at 3) ATM required Lakeside to conduct a drug test and a physical, including a back screening, on every prospective employee, regardless of position, as a condition of employment. (Dkt. 75 at 3) ATM also required every prospective employee, regardless of the position they applied for, to be able to lift 35 pounds. (Dkt. 75 at 3)

Nora Arlene Guzik, a Nurse Practitioner with a doctoral degree in nursing practice, has been Lakeside's Assistant Medical Director since 2009. (Dkt. 75 at 3) Erin Gwyn, an Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioner (“ARNP”), worked for Lakeside between 1998 and 2010 and performed pre-employment medical examinations for

[21 F.Supp.3d 1272]

Lakeside's contracted employers. (Dkt. 75 at 3) Gwyn graduated from medical school in 2008 with an M.D., completed examinations for Step I and Step II, but has not completed a residency, or her Step III examination, and is not licensed to practice medicine. (Dkt. 75 at 4)

Lakeside's pre-employment examinations for ATM are conducted to determine whether the prospective employee is capable of performing the essential functions of the job for which they were hired and for the purpose of determining whether there is a current or potential future risk to the employee and/or whether the employee can safely perform the job requirements. (Dkt. 75 at 4) Even though Lakeside looks to ATM for guidance on the functional job demands as it relates to this testing, Lakeside did not request and ATM did not provide job descriptions as part of the pre-employment examination process. (Dkt. 75 at 4) Additionally, neither ATM's President nor its Human Resources Manager provide instructions or guidance to Lakeside about how to conduct their medical clearances or medical examinations. (Dkt. 75 at 4) Instead, ATM relies on Lakeside's guidance and professional medical opinions as to whether an applicant is “fit for duty” in order to avoid on-the-job injuries and potential liability. (Dkt. 75 at 4)

Penny Loulourgas testified that she was told—at some point in the distant past—that Lakeside representatives visited ATM and took stock of the company's functions. (Dkt. 75 at 5) However, in 2009–2010, Lakeside personnel was not aware of those functions. (Dkt. 75 at 5)

Lakeside's “Back History” questionnaire, given to all of ATM's prospective employees, asks specifically whether the prospective employee's back injury was a worker's compensation injury, whether Lakeside can contact the previous employer regarding Worker's Compensation claims, and whether the prospective employee ever had a medical condition that resulted in impairment ratings or permanent restrictions. (Dkt. 75 at 5)

At Lakeside, Matanic completed a Short Health History form and the Back History form, among others; advised Lakeside that he applied for the position of Process Engineer at ATM; and that in 2003 he suffered an injury to his lumbar spine at L4 for which he had corrective surgery. (Dkt. 75 at 6) Specifically, on August 21, 2003, Mr. Matanic had surgery on his back to repair a herniated disk; he underwent an L4–L5 lumbar laminectomy, medial facetectomy, foraminotomy, and a discectomy. (Dkt. 75 at 9)

Following Lakeside's policy, Erin Gwyn informed Steven Yeager, the nurse practitioner performing Matanic's physical examination, that Lakeside could not proceed with the back screen required by ATM. (Dkt. 75 at 6) Lakeside never performed a back screen on Matanic and never assessed whether he could lift 35 pounds. (Dkt. 75 at 5) Gwyn testified that the question was not whether Matanic could lift 35 pounds, but whether he should. (Dkt. 75 at 5)

Lakeside completed a physical examination form indicating that Matanic was “recommend[ed] not fit for employment/work at this time because: More medical information needed, specifically old records of back surgery[,] requested medical statement of if restriction is warranted s/p Left L4–L5 lumbar laminectomy statement from surgeon in El Paso, TX date of surgery 8/21/03.” (Dkt. 75 at 9) Gwyn's conclusion was communicated to ATM. (Dkt. 75 at 6)

Matanic provided Lakeside with a release for his 2003 surgical records from El Paso Specialty Hospital. (Dkt. 75 at 7) On November 6, 2009, Lakeside requested the

[21 F.Supp.3d 1273]

records. (Dkt. 75 at 9) ATM gave Matanic additional time to obtain the release/restrictions and permitted him to start work on a conditional basis on November 12, 2009. (Dkt. 75 at 7)

El Paso Specialty Hospital provided Lakeside with medical records relating to Matanic's 2003 back surgery but Lakeside deemed the information insufficient. (Dkt. 75 at 7) On November 12, 2009, ATM informed Matanic that he would not be eligible for permanent hire until the requested release or statement of restrictions from his 2003 surgery...

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    ...the reactions and perceptions of the persons interacting with or working with him.'"22 E.E.O.C. v. American Tool & Mold, Inc., 21 F. Supp. 3d 1268, 1275 (M.D. Fla. 2014) (citation omitted). "Moreover, the 'regarded as' analysis is separate from whether the employer can eventually establish ......
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    ...the putative employee from performing the essential functions of the position. See, e.g., E.E.O.C. v. American Tool & Mold, Inc., 21 F.Supp.3d 1268, 1283 (M.D. Fla. 2014). However, discrimination under the ADA also includes, “participating in a contractual or other arrangement or relationsh......
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    ...including the reactions and perceptions of the persons interacting with or working with him.'" E.E.O.C. v. American Tool & Mold, Inc., 21 F. Supp. 3d 1268, 1275 (M.D. Fla. 2014). "Moreover, the 'regarded as' analysis is separate Page 26from whether the employer can eventually establish a de......
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    ...School Board of Nassau County v. Arline, 480 U.S. 273, 107 S.Ct. 1123, 94 L.Ed.2d 307 (1987), E.E.O.C. v. American Tool & Mold, Inc., 21 F.Supp.3d 1268 (M.D. Fla. 2014), and Valdez v. Minnesota Quarries, Inc., No. 12-CV-0801 PJS/TNL, 2012 WL 6112846 (D. Minn. Dec. 10, 2012). (Id. ) The EEOC......
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14 cases
  • Smart v. Dekalb Cnty., CIVIL ACTION FILE NO. 1:16-CV-0826-WSD-JFK
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Northern District of Georgia
    • January 5, 2018
    ...the reactions and perceptions of the persons interacting with or working with him.'"22 E.E.O.C. v. American Tool & Mold, Inc., 21 F. Supp. 3d 1268, 1275 (M.D. Fla. 2014) (citation omitted). "Moreover, the 'regarded as' analysis is separate from whether the employer can eventually establish ......
  • Equal Emp't Opportunity Comm'n v. Outokumpu Stainless Steel U.S., Civil Action 20-521-CG-B
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. United States District Court of Southern District of Alabama
    • September 1, 2022
    ...the putative employee from performing the essential functions of the position. See, e.g., E.E.O.C. v. American Tool & Mold, Inc., 21 F.Supp.3d 1268, 1283 (M.D. Fla. 2014). However, discrimination under the ADA also includes, “participating in a contractual or other arrangement or relationsh......
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    ...including the reactions and perceptions of the persons interacting with or working with him.'" E.E.O.C. v. American Tool & Mold, Inc., 21 F. Supp. 3d 1268, 1275 (M.D. Fla. 2014). "Moreover, the 'regarded as' analysis is separate Page 26from whether the employer can eventually establish a de......
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