Computer Science Raytheon – Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), State Handicap Discrimination Claim, Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).

Computer Science Raytheon – Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), State Handicap Discrimination Claim, Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).

Equal employment opportunity commissionIN THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE EIGHTEENTH JUDICIAL CIRCUIT
IN AND FOR BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA

KEVIN M. KNIGHT,

Plaintiff,

vs. CASE NO.

COMPUTER SCIENCES RAYTHEON (CSR)
a joint venture between COMPUTER
SCIENCES CORPORATION and
RAYTHEON COMPANY,

Defendant.
___________________________/

COMPLAINT AND DEMAND FOR JURY TRIAL

Plaintiff, KEVIN M. KNIGHT, by and through his undersigned counsel, sues Defendant, COMPUTER SCIENCES RAYTHEON (hereinafter called “CSR”), and alleges as follows:

JURISDICTION AND PARTIES

1. This is an action for damages that exceed $15,000.00, exclusive of costs, interest, and attorney’s fees.
2. The unlawful employment practices alleged below were committed within Brevard County, Florida.
3. Plaintiff is and has been a resident of Brevard County, Florida, at all times material herein.
4. Defendant, CSR is a joint venture partnership comprised of Computer Sciences Corporation, a Nevada corporation and Raytheon Company, a Delaware corporation. Defendant CSR, at the time of the acts complained of herein, was registered and authorized to do business in the State of Florida, employed fifteen (15) or more persons and was engaged in an industry affecting commerce.

STATEMENT OF CLAIM
GENERAL FACTUAL ALLEGATIONS

5. Plaintiff worked for Computer Sciences Raytheon as a Logistics Supply Clerk at Patrick AFB from 1988 until February 12, 2000.
6. During Plaintiff’s employment with CSR, Plaintiff suffered from a number of physical impairments which substantially limited his ability to breathe, walk, climb, lift and perform some manual tasks, which affected his ability to work. Many of these impairments derived from or were exacerbated by Plaintiff’s military service in the Persian Gulf War of 1991.
7. On or about August 5, 1999, based on his physician’s diagnoses and medical recommendations, Plaintiff wrote to CSR’s Human Resources Department and notified CSR that he had physical impairments which substantially limited his breathing, walking and ability to perform some manual tasks such as lifting heavy objects. Plaintiff informed CSR that his impairments limited his ability to stand for long periods of time, lift very heavy objects, or work in areas exposed to certain chemicals. Plaintiff further advised CSR that in spite of his impairments, he was able to perform the essential functions of his job with reasonable accommodations. Plaintiff identified to CSR the following reasonable accommodations he was seeking: “staying away from the flight line and chemicals from the receiving area and not lifting heavy materials or walking or standing for long periods, including stooping, squatting, bending.”
8. CSR requested clarification of Plaintiff’s medical conditions. In response to CSR’s request for clarification of his conditions, Plaintiff provided a note from his physician to CSR setting forth the specific conditions and physical restrictions, including a maximum 30-pound lifting limit. Plaintiff’s physician’s note indicated that these restrictions “should be taken into consideration in any job [Plaintiff] is applying to or is working permanently in.”
9. In addition to notifying CSR of his disabilities, Plaintiff also requested from CSR that he be allowed to reduce his work schedule by 6 hours per week, without pay, so that he could attend vocational rehabilitation classes administered through the Veterans Administration, for which he had been approved.
10. In 1998, Plaintiff was a witness in a race discrimination suit brought against CSR by a group of African American employees. Plaintiff had overheard a certain CSR management employee refer to the African American employees as “niggers” and gave a statement to the plaintiffs in that suit attesting to the fact that he witnessed the manager’s comment. Subsequent to the date Plaintiff gave his statement to the African American employees engaged in the race discrimination suit against CSR, Plaintiff’s supervisor began to monitor him much more closely, scrutinizing his work in a fashion which he had not done before, searching through Plaintiff’s desk, and hovering over Plaintiff’s shoulder while he was working. Plaintiff’s supervisor did not act in such a manner toward other employees, and there was no performance related reason why the supervisor should have acted in such a manner toward Plaintiff. The supervisor had never acted in such fashion before Plaintiff’s involvement in the race discrimination suit.
11. After receiving the list of physical restrictions Plaintiff’s physician imposed on him, due to his medical conditions, CSR drafted a completely new Logistics Support Clerk job description which required that a Logistics Support Clerk have none of the restrictions or limitations which Plaintiff’s physician had diagnosed and/or Imposed on him, including requiring the ability to:
a. “safely lift up to 50 lbs. unassisted.”
b. “perform the function of lifting, bending, and carrying materials while going up and down stairs”
In a separate note to Plaintiff’s physician, CSR claimed the lifting requirement was 70 pounds.
12. Until CSR arbitrarily changed the job requirements for a Logistics Support Clerk, there had been no specific lifting requirement for a Logistics Support Clerk position. In fact, the only job description that had existed was located in the Collective Bargaining Agreement which governed Plaintiff’s employment, and only required that a Logistics Support Clerk be able to perform “some manual lifting.”
13. To Plaintiff’s knowledge, the Logistics Support Clerks rarely if ever had to lift amounts of weight in excess of twenty pounds, and in the event this occurred, Logistics Support Clerks had at their disposal tools such as hand trucks and forklifts to assist them. Further, it was common practice that if a Logistics Support Clerk had to carry a heavy object he or she would ask a co-worker to assist in the lifting.
14. CSR did not agree to reduce Plaintiff’s work schedule to permit him to attend the vocational rehabilitation classes he sought to take.
15. On or about January 19, 2000, Plaintiff was required to have gall bladder/hernia surgery. He notified his supervisor beforehand and told him that he would use his accumulated leave to cover his absences, but that the surgery would probably require him to be out a few days longer. Plaintiff offered to take that time off as unpaid leave. Plaintiff’s supervisor indicated to Plaintiff that there would be no problem with this arrangement. Plaintiff’s supervisor further advised Plaintiff that CSR would need a “release to work” letter from Plaintiff’s doctor following his surgery.
16. Plaintiff was required to be out of work for four days for the gall bladder/hernia surgery and recovery. Plaintiff returned on the fifth work day, on or about January 25, 2000, after his doctor had released him to return to work. At that time, the Logistics Control Manager suspended him for two weeks without pay for failing to notify his supervisor that he would be absent on January 24, 2000.
17. After Plaintiff returned to work from his gall bladder/hernia surgery, he was notified by CSR that he was being put on extended medical leave because he was allegedly not able to perform the essential functions of his job and that there was allegedly no reasonable accommodation that could be provided.
18. Most CSR Logistics Support Clerks and Stock Clerks do no or virtually no lifting in their jobs. For the last six (6) years of Plaintiff’s employment as a Logistics Support Clerk with CSR, he had to do virtually no lifting in his job, which was almost exclusively clerical.
19. Against his will, Plaintiff was placed on unpaid leave of absence effective February 12, 2000. CSR advised Plaintiff that if he was unable to return to work after twelve (12) months, Plaintiff’s employment would be administratively terminated by CSR. Plaintiff responded to CSR in writing on February 14, 2000, reiterating that he was fully capable of returning to work and fulfilling the essential requirements of his position with reasonable accommodations, and that he did not want to be placed on unpaid medical leave. Nonetheless, Plaintiff was placed on unpaid medical leave of absence.
20. On a number of occasions CSR represented to Plaintiff that if he could identify CSR job vacancy listings for which he believed he was qualified, CSR would see whether it was feasible to place Plaintiff in the positions. Since the date Plaintiff was placed on medical leave, CSR’s Position Vacancy Reports have contained a number of positions for which CSR knew Plaintiff was qualified or could have become qualified with a minimum of training. Plaintiff was never placed in any of these positions.
21. Plaintiff has not been returned to work in any position by CSR, nor has Plaintiff been given any indication that CSR has any intent to return Plaintiff to work at any time. Plaintiff has therefore been constructively discharged by CSR.
22. On or about February 25, 2000, Plaintiff filed an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission charge of discrimination against CSR, alleging disability discrimination under the ADA and retaliation under Title VII (Exhibit ’A’ attached hereto). The charge form was marked as being “dual-filed” with the Florida Commission on Human Relations.
23. Plaintiff was issued a Dismissal and Notice of Rights by the EEOC on July 20, 2000 (Exhibit ’B’ attached hereto).
24. Plaintiff has retained the undersigned attorney and agreed to pay him a reasonable fee.
25. Plaintiff has exhausted his administrative remedies prior to bringing this action.
26. Plaintiff has complied with all conditions precedent prior to bringing this action.
27. At all times during his employment with Defendant, Plaintiff performed all
duties assigned to him in a professionally competent manner.
28. Plaintiff has suffered and continues to suffer grave and severe damage to his financial welfare and his employment prospects by reason of Defendant’s discriminatory actions against Plaintiff.
29. Plaintiff has suffered severe mental anguish and emotional distress as a result of Defendant’s actions.

COUNT I

VIOLATION OF SECTION 760.10, FLORIDA STATUTES

STATE HANDICAP DISCRIMINATION CLAIM

30. Plaintiff realleges and incorporates paragraphs 1 through 9, 11 through 14 and 17 through 29 of this Complaint as if set forth in full herein.
31. This action is brought pursuant to Section 760.10, Florida Statutes, the Florida Civil Rights Act.
32. Plaintiff’s charge of discrimination was dual-filed with the EEOC and the FCHR, and more than one hundred eighty (180) days have expired since the filing of said complaint and the FCHR has not entered a determination on Plaintiff’s claim.
33. As more fully set forth, supra, Plaintiff’s medical conditions and physician-imposed restrictions constituted one or more handicaps, physical disabilities or impairments that substantially limited one or more of the major life activities of Plaintiff. Specifically, Plaintiff’s handicaps, physical disabilities or impairments substantially limited Plaintiff’s major life activities of breathing, walking, climbing, lifting and working.
34. In spite of his handicaps and disabilities, Plaintiff was able to perform all of the essential functions of his position.
35. The actions of CSR as alleged in paragraphs 11 through 14 and 17 through 21, supra, constitute discrimination against Plaintiff by CSR based upon his handicaps and disabilities. By discriminating in such fashion against the Plaintiff, CSR violated Section 760.10, Florida Statutes, which makes it unlawful “to discharge or to fail or refuse to hire any individual, or otherwise to discriminate against any individual with respect to compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, because of such individual’s handicap.”
36. The conduct of CSR as complained of herein was willful, malicious, oppressive, wanton and in complete disregard of the rights of the Plaintiff.

PRAYER FOR RELIEF

WHEREFORE, Plaintiff prays for:
A. Judgment for his back pay, including all sums of money Plaintiff would have earned, together with such other increases to which he would be entitled, had he not been discriminatorily discharged;
B. Compensatory damages, including, but not limited to, damages for mental anguish, loss of dignity, and any other intangible injuries;
C. Reinstatement, or front pay in lieu thereof;
D. Punitive damages;
E. An award of reasonable attorneys fees and all costs incurred herein;
F. Such other damages and relief as may be just and proper.

COUNT II

VIOLATION OF THE AMERICANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT

FEDERAL HANDICAP DISCRIMINATION CLAIM

37. Plaintiff realleges and incorporates paragraphs 1 through 9, 11 through 14, and 17 through 29 of this Complaint as if set forth in full herein.
38. This action is brought pursuant to 42 USC Section 1201, et seq., the Americans with Disabilities Act.
39. As more fully set forth, supra, Plaintiff’s medical conditions and physician-imposed restrictions constituted one or more handicaps, physical disabilities or impairments that substantially limited one or more of the major life activities of Plaintiff. Specifically, Plaintiff’s handicaps, physical disabilities or impairments substantially limited Plaintiff’s major life activities of breathing, walking, climbing, lifting and working.
40. In spite of his handicaps and disabilities, Plaintiff was able to perform all of the essential functions of his position.
41. The actions of CSR as alleged in paragraphs 11 through 14 and 17 through 21, supra, constitute discrimination against Plaintiff by CSR based upon his handicaps and disabilities. By discriminating in such fashion against the Plaintiff, CSR violated the Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 USC Section 1201, et seq., which makes it unlawful for an employer to discharge or otherwise to discriminate against a qualified individual with a disability, with respect to compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, because of such individual’s disability.
42. In discriminating against the Plaintiff based upon his disabilities, and in terminating Plaintiff because of his disabilities, CSR engaged in a discriminatory practice with malice and reckless indifference to the statutorily protected rights of Plaintiff.
43. Proximately and directly as a result of Defendant discriminating against Plaintiff on account of him disability and handicap, Plaintiff has suffered damages consisting of mental anguish, emotional distress, loss of salary and other compensation.
44. The conduct of CSR complained of herein was willful, malicious, oppressive, wanton and in complete disregard of the rights of Plaintiff.

PRAYER FOR RELIEF

WHEREFORE, Plaintiff prays for:
A. Judgment for his back pay, including all sums of money Plaintiff would have earned, together with such other increases to which he would be entitled, had he not been discriminatorily discharged;
B. Compensatory damages, including, but not limited to, damages for mental anguish, loss of dignity, and any other intangible injuries;
C. Reinstatement, or front pay in lieu thereof;
D. Punitive damages;
E. An award of reasonable attorney’s fees and all costs incurred herein;
F. Such other damages and relief as may be just and proper.

COUNT III

VIOLATION OF SECTION 760.10, FLORIDA STATUTES

STATE RETALIATION CLAIM

45. Plaintiff realleges and incorporates paragraphs 1 through 29 of this Complaint as if set forth in full herein.
46. This action is brought pursuant to Section 760.10, Florida Statutes, the
Florida Civil Rights Act.
47. Plaintiff’s charge of discrimination was dual-filed with the EEOC and the FCHR, and more than one hundred eighty (180) days have expired since the filing of said complaint and the FCHR has not entered a determination on Plaintiff’s claim.
48. Plaintiff’s participation in the race discrimination suit brought against CSR, described in paragraph 10, supra, prompted CSR to retaliate against Plaintiff when it had an opportunity to do so. Specifically, CSR harassed Plaintiff by scrutinizing his work in a fashion not done to other employees, failing to provide reasonable accommodation for Plaintiff’s disabilities when he requested it, suspending him when he took leave to recover from surgery, and ultimately terminating his employment, as further outlined in paragraphs 11 through 21, supra.
49. The actions of CSR as alleged in paragraphs 11 through 21, supra, constitute retaliation against Plaintiff by CSR. By retaliating in such fashion against the Plaintiff, CSR violated Section 760.10(7), Florida Statutes, which makes it unlawful ” to discriminate against any person because that person has opposed any practice which is an unlawful employment practice under this section, or because that person has made a charge, testified, assisted in any manner in an investigation, proceeding, or hearing under this section.”
50. The conduct of CSR as complained of herein was willful, malicious, oppressive, wanton and in complete disregard of the rights of the Plaintiff.

PRAYER FOR RELIEF

WHEREFORE, Plaintiff prays for:
A. An Order prohibiting the discriminatory practice and providing affirmative relief from the effects of the practice;
B. Judgment for his back pay, including all sums of money Plaintiff would have earned, together with such other increases to which he would be entitled, had he not been discriminatorily discharged;
C. Compensatory damages, including, but not limited to, damages for mental anguish, loss of dignity, and any other intangible injuries;
D. Reinstatement, or front pay in lieu thereof;
E. Punitive damages;
F. An award of reasonable attorneys fees and all costs incurred herein;
G. Such other damages and relief as may be just and proper.

COUNT IV

VIOLATION OF TITLE VII

FEDERAL RETALIATION CLAIM

51. This is an action for violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, 42 U.S.C. Section 2000e-3.
52. Plaintiff realleges and incorporates paragraphs 1 through 29 and 48 of this Complaint as if set forth in full herein.
53. The actions of CSR as alleged in paragraphs 11-21, supra, constitute retaliation against Plaintiff by CSR. By retaliating in such fashion against the Plaintiff, CSR violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, 42 U.S.C. Section 2000e-3, which makes it unlawful “for an employer to discriminate against any of his employees because he has opposed any practice made an unlawful employment practice by this subchapter, or because he has made a charge, testified, assisted, or participated in any manner in an investigation, proceeding, or hearing under this subchapter.”
54. The conduct of CSR as complained of herein was willful, malicious, oppressive, wanton and in complete disregard of the rights of the Plaintiff.

PRAYER FOR RELIEF

WHEREFORE, Plaintiff prays for:
A. An Order prohibiting the discriminatory practice and providing affirmative relief from the effects of the practice;
B. Judgment for his back pay, including all sums of money Plaintiff would have earned, together with such other increases to which he would be entitled, had he not been discriminatorily discharged;
C. Compensatory damages, including, but not limited to, damages for mental anguish, loss of dignity, and any other intangible injuries;
D. Reinstatement, or front pay in lieu thereof;
E. Punitive damages;
F. An award of reasonable attorneys fees and all costs incurred herein;
G. Such other damages and relief as may be just and proper.

COUNT V

VIOLATION OF THE FAMILY AND MEDICAL LEAVE ACT

55. This is an action brought pursuant to the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), 29 U.S.C. Sections 2601 to 2654, to obtain relief for violation of medical leave rights guaranteed by the FMLA.
56. Plaintiff realleges and incorporates paragraphs 1 through 9, 14 through 16, 24, 26 and 27 of this complaint as if set forth in full herein.
57. Plaintiff was employed by Defendant in excess of twelve months and for at least 1250 hours over the twelve months prior to denial of his benefits and termination by Defendant.
58. Defendant employed in excess of 50 employees for each working day during each of twenty or more calendar work weeks in the year culminating in Plaintiff’s termination.
59. As more fully set forth in paragraphs 15 and 16, supra, despite CSR’s knowledge of the Plaintiff’s need to take leave due to his gall bladder/hernia surgery, CSR suspended the Plaintiff for two weeks without pay on or about January 27, 2000, after he indicated to his supervisor that the surgery could require him to be absent for as much as a week.
60. CSR’s actions as described herein constitute a violation of the FMLA, which makes it unlawful for an employer to interfere with, restrain, or deny the exercise of or the attempt to exercise, any right provided under the FMLA, including the right to take a total of twelve (12) work weeks of unpaid leave during any twelve (12) month period because of a serious health condition.
61. The Defendant’s actions against the Plaintiff in violation of the FMLA were done wantonly, maliciously, willfully and with the intent to do harm to Plaintiff.
62. CSR had knowledge of the applicability of the FMLA because it had, at the time it suspended Plaintiff, previously allowed Plaintiff to use FMLA leave intermittently to care for the serious medical condition of his grandson.
63. Plaintiff has suffered and continues to suffer grave and severe damage to her financial welfare, by reason of Defendant’s unlawful actions against the Plaintiff.

PRAYER FOR RELIEF
WHEREFORE, Plaintiff prays for judgment against Defendant, as follows:
A. Judgment for all wages, salary, employment benefits and other compensation denied or lost Plaintiff by reason of Defendant’s violation of the FMLA;
B. Interest;
C. An additional amount as liquidated damages;
D. An award of reasonable attorney’s fees and all costs incurred herein;
E. Such other damages as may be just and proper.

DEMAND FOR JURY TRIAL

Plaintiff demands a jury trial on all issues herein triable by jury.

DATED this _____day of October, 2000.

Wayne L. Allen, Esquire
Florida Bar No. 110025
Adrienne E. Trent, Esquire
Florida Bar No. 0060119
WAYNE L. ALLEN & ASSOCIATES, P.A.
Attorneys for Plaintiff
700 N. Wickham Road
Suite 107
Melbourne, Florida 32935
Phone: (321) 254-7550
Fax: (321) 242-1681

Attorney: Maurice Arcadier
Status: Closed
Date Filed: 10/04/2000

Our Melbourne office is centrally located in Brevard County, enabling our lawyers to serve clients throughout “the Space Coast”, including Cocoa Beach, Palm Bay and Vero Beach.