Hernandez v. City of Hartford

Citation959 F.Supp. 125
Decision Date14 March 1997
Docket NumberCiv. No. 3:95CV1517 (PCD).
PartiesAlma HERNANDEZ, Plaintiff, v. CITY OF HARTFORD, Defendant.
CourtU.S. District Court — District of Connecticut

Daniel S. Fabricant, Miniter & Associates, Hartford, CT, Barbara E. Gardner, Manchester, CT, for Plaintiff.

Helen Apostolidis, Karen Kirsten Buffkin, Corporation Counsel's Office, Hartford, CT, for Defendant.


DORSEY, Chief Judge.

Defendant moves to dismiss, or in the alternative for summary judgment pursuant to Fed. R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) and 56(c). The parties have submitted matters outside the pleadings, and thus the 12(b)(6) motion is converted into one for summary judgment. For the following reasons, summary judgment is denied on the grounds that there are genuine issues of material fact.


Alma Hernandez ("plaintiff") is employed by the City of Hartford ("defendant") as an Administrative Assistant in the Grants and Management Services Program of the Health Department ("department"). Plaintiff was pregnant and due to give birth on June 22, 1995. On January 6, 1995, her obstetrician discovered that uterine fibroids complicated her pregnancy.

Plaintiff claims that on May 4, 1995, she advised her immediate supervisor, Keith Wilder ("Wilder"), that she experienced premature labor. On May 9, 1995, plaintiff's obstetrician prepared a note indicating the physical limitations plaintiff's condition imposed on her ability to work.1 Through this note, plaintiff sought permission from Wilder to work at home part-time for the remainder of her pregnancy. She asserts that this alternative was vital to the management of her condition because working at home would have enabled her to "avoid the stress associated with the work environment ... [and allowed her] to keep her heart rate at an acceptable level for taking ..." her premature labor medication. (Am.Compl.¶ 7.)

Plaintiff claims that Wilder reviewed her doctor's recommendations and they agreed that she would work Tuesdays and Thursdays out of her home. Assistant Health Director Richard Colpitts ("Colpitts") approved this plan. Final approval from Acting Health Director Katherine McCormack ("McCormack") was sought, pending which plaintiff continued to work, performing all her duties and responsibilities.

On June 6, 1995, Wilder informed plaintiff that McCormack denied her request to work at home. Although the baby was born healthy eleven days later, plaintiff suffered complications in the birth that caused her to be out of work ten weeks.

Plaintiff avers that her pre-term labor, a complication resulting from pregnancy, constituted a disability under § 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 ("Rehabilitation Act"), 29 U.S.C. § 794 (1994), and Title II of the American with Disabilities Act of 1990 ("ADA"), 42 U.S.C. § 12132 (1994) (the "Acts"). She complains that defendant's denial of her request to work at home was willful and discriminatory in violation of the Rehabilitation Act and the ADA. She alleges physical and emotional pain and suffering. She also claims defendant was negligent and inflicted emotional distress. She seeks damages, attorney's fees and costs.

Defendant moves for summary judgment on the ground that plaintiff was not disabled, was not a qualified individual with a disability, and was reasonably accommodated. Additionally, defendant argues that plaintiff's claim is incognizable under Title II of the ADA, that compensatory and punitive damages are also improper in cases under the Acts, and that a jury trial is not available. Lastly, defendant claims the court lacks subject matter jurisdiction over her emotional distress claim.

A. Standard of Review

Defendant moves to dismiss pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), or in the alternative for summary judgment pursuant to Fed. R.Civ.P. 56(c). Rule 12(b)(6) provides that "if matters outside the pleading are presented to and not excluded by the court, the motion shall be treated as one for summary judgment and disposed of as provided in Rule 56, and all parties shall be given reasonable opportunity to present all material made pertinent to such motion by Rule 56." As the motion has been briefed as a motion for summary judgment by both parties, each of which has submitted materials outside the pleadings, the parties have had a reasonable opportunity to present Rule 56 material. Accordingly, the motion shall be treated as a motion for summary judgment.

Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c) provides that summary judgment shall be rendered when a review of the entire record demonstrates "that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact." The moving party must establish that no relevant facts are in dispute. Heyman v. Commerce & Indus. Ins. Co., 524 F.2d 1317, 1319-20 (2d Cir.1975); accord Adickes v. S.H. Kress & Co., 398 U.S. 144, 157, 90 S.Ct. 1598, 1608, 26 L.Ed.2d 142 (1970). In determining whether a genuine issue has been raised, a court must resolve all ambiguities and draw all reasonable inferences against the moving party. United States v. Diebold, Inc., 369 U.S. 654, 655, 82 S.Ct. 993, 994, 8 L.Ed.2d 176 (1962) (per curiam); Quinn v. Syracuse Model Neighborhood Corp., 613 F.2d 438, 443 (2d Cir.1980). Therefore, not only must there be no genuine issue as to evidentiary facts, but there must be no controversy regarding the inferences to be drawn from them. Schwabenbauer v. Bd. of Educ., 667 F.2d 305, 313 (2d Cir.1981); accord Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986).2

B. The Rehabilitation Act and the ADA

To sustain a claim under § 504 of the Rehabilitation Act,3 plaintiff must establish that: (1) she was an individual with a disability within the meaning of the Act; (2) she was otherwise qualified, with or without reasonable accommodation, to perform her job; (3) she was excluded from the job solely because of her disability; and (4) her employer received federal funding. Borkowski v. Valley Cent. School Dist., 63 F.3d 131, 135 (2d Cir.1995). Likewise, under Title II of the ADA,4 plaintiff must establish that: (1) she was a disabled person within the meaning of the ADA; (2) she was qualified, with or without reasonable accommodation, to perform the essential functions of her job; and (3) she was discriminated against in her employment on account of her disability. White v. York Int'l Corp., 45 F.3d 357, 360-61 (10th Cir.1995). The language of the two statutes is substantially the same. The same analysis applies, Doe v. University of Md. Medical System Corp., 50 F.3d 1261, 1265 n. 9 (4th Cir.1995); see 42 U.S.C. §§ 12117(b) and 12133 (1994); 29 U.S.C. § 794a(2) (1994), and, for practical purposes, the standards are the same.

1. Disability Under the Rehabilitation Act and the ADA

Defendant argues that plaintiff's premature labor was not a disability within the meaning of the Acts. Under the Acts, an "individual with a disability ... [is] any person who ... has a physical or mental impairment which substantially limits one or more of such person's major life activities...." 29 U.S.C. § 706(8)(b)(i)(1994). See 42 U.S.C. § 12102(2)(A) (1994). The regulations promulgated by the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission ("EEOC") clarify the language of the Acts.5

a. Premature Labor as a Physical Impairment

Defendant maintains that plaintiff's pregnancy was not a physical impairment within the meaning of the Acts. Plaintiff claims a physical impairment in her premature labor, a physiological disorder, not her pregnancy.

Pregnancy and related medical conditions have been held not to be physical impairments. See, e.g., Johnson v. A.P. Products, Ltd., 934 F.Supp. 625, 626 (S.D.N.Y.1996); Tsetseranos v. Tech Prototype, Inc., 893 F.Supp. 109, 119 (D.N.H.1995); Byerly v. Herr Foods, Inc., 1993 WL 101196 at *4 (E.D.Pa. April 6, 1993). Conversely, a distinction has been noted between pregnancy and complications caused by pregnancy and thus "under particular circumstances, [a] pregnancy-related condition can constitute a `disability' within the meaning of the ADA." Cerrato v. Durham, 941 F.Supp. 388, 392 (S.D.N.Y.1996). See Garrett v. Chicago School Reform Board of Trustees, No. 95 C 7341, 1996 WL 411319, at *2 (N.D.Ill. July 19, 1996).

In Cerrato, plaintiff sued under the ADA alleging that her employment was terminated based on her pregnancy-related conditions. Defendant moved to dismiss, arguing that pregnancy is not a physical impairment under the ADA. Plaintiff alleged, however, that she suffered from spotting, leaking, cramping and dizziness—all conditions of her pregnancy. The court held that plaintiff alleged facts sufficient to conclude that she suffered impairment of a bodily system, i.e., the reproductive system. Id. at 393.

The Cerrato court relied on the current state of medical knowledge to distinguish between pregnancy and pregnancy-related complications. Id. It noted that although the American Medical Association's Council on Scientific Affairs ("Council") recommended "that most women with uncomplicated pregnancies `should be able .... to continue productive work until the onset of labor,'" the Council "listed a number of `substantial complications' of pregnancy that `may be disabling for further work.'" Id. (quoting Council on Scientific Affairs, Effects of Pregnancy on Work Performance, 251 JAMA 1995, 1997 (1984)). Among those complications were the "premature rupture of membranes, vaginal bleeding, ... risk of premature [birth] ... and a number of others." Id. The court's analysis is compelling.

Furthermore, the EEOC regulations call for the same conclusion. Pregnancy is not considered a physiological disorder under 29 C.F.R.App. § 1630.2(h)(1) (1996) ("conditions, such as pregnancy, that are not the result of a physiological disorder are not impairments."). However, the regulation does not explicitly exclude pregnancy-related impairments, provided they are the result of a physiological disorder. "Phy...

To continue reading

Request your trial
43 cases
  • Saylor v. Ridge
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Eastern District of Pennsylvania
    • January 8, 1998
    ...1217, 111 S.Ct. 2825, 115 L.Ed.2d 995 (1991); Bracciale v. City of Philadelphia, 1997 WL 672263 (E.D.Pa.1997); Hernandez v. City of Hartford, 959 F.Supp. 125 (D.Conn. 1997); Graboski v. Guiliani, 937 F.Supp. 258 (S.D.N.Y.1996); Wagner v. Texas A & M University, 939 F.Supp. 1297 (S.D.Tex.199......
  • Tyler v. City of Manhattan, 94-3344
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Tenth Circuit
    • July 8, 1997
    ...damages remedy may not depend upon proof of intentional discrimination. See id. at 1219 n. 9. See also Hernandez v. City of Hartford, 959 F.Supp. 125, 133-34 (D.Conn.1997) ("Since claims for compensatory and punitive damages are proper under § 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, they are likewis......
  • Alberti v. San Francisco Sheriff's Dept., C-98-2834 WHO.
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Northern District of California
    • November 25, 1998
    ...F.Supp.2d 130, 136 (D.Mass.1998); Dominguez v. City of Council Bluffs, 974 F.Supp. 732, 736-37 (S.D.Iowa 1997); Hernandez v. City of Hartford, 959 F.Supp. 125, 133 (D.Conn.1997); Davoll v. Webb, 943 F.Supp. 1289, 1297 (D.Colo. 1996); Wagner v. Texas A & M Univ., 939 F.Supp. 1297, 1309 (S.D.......
  • Zimmerman v. Oregon Dept. of Justice
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Ninth Circuit
    • March 18, 1999
    ...F.Supp. 78, 83-84 (W.D.Mich.1993); Finley v. Giacobbe, 827 F.Supp. 215, 219 n. 3 (S.D.N.Y.1993).13 See, e.g., Hernandez v. City of Hartford, 959 F.Supp. 125, 133 (D.Conn.1997) ("On its face, Title II prohibits discrimination in 'public services'. A plain reading of the section does not reve......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
2 books & journal articles
  • Gender-Based Discrimination in the Workplace
    • United States
    • Review of Public Personnel Administration No. 36-3, September 2016
    • September 1, 2016
    ...Gender equity since the civil rights act of 1964. Review of Public Personnel Administration, 34, 40-58.Hernandez v. City of Hartford, 959 F.Supp. 125 (D.Conn. 1997).Hurley, K. M., Black, M. M., Papas, M. A., & Quigg, A. M. (2008). Variation in breastfeed-ing behaviours, perceptions, and exp......
  • Pregnancy discrimination - rights, remedies, and defenses.
    • United States
    • Florida Bar Journal Vol. 72 No. 6, June 1998
    • June 1, 1998
    ...Ctrs., Inc., 982 F. Supp. 213 (S.D.N.Y 1997); Darian v. Univ. of Mass., 980 F. Supp. 77 (D. Mass. 1997); Hernandez v. City of Hartford, 959 F. Supp. 125 (D. Conn. 1997); Cerrato v. Durham, et al., 941 F. Supp. 388 (S.D.N.Y 1996); Garrett v. Chicago Sch. Reform Bd. of Trustees, 1996 U.S. Dis......

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT