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LEWIS v. UNITED PARCEL SERVICE

October 13, 2005.

PAUL LEWIS, Plaintiff,
v.
UNITED PARCEL SERVICE, INC., and DOES 1-100, inclusive, Defendants.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: WILLIAM ALSUP, District Judge

ORDER GRANTING MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT IN FAVOR OF DEFENDANT

INTRODUCTION

In this diversity-removal action, defendant United Parcel Service, Inc., moves for summary judgment on all plaintiff claims. The motion is GRANTED.

  STATEMENT

  Plaintiff Paul Lewis drove a UPS delivery truck. He went out on workers' compensation in September 2002. With the exception of two brief periods, he has remained on workers' compensation since. During his most recent stint of work, a labor manager, Mike Mullan, met with Lewis and Eduardo Nuño, another manager. During the meeting, Mullan threatened to fire Lewis unless he trimmed his dreadlocks. The dreadlocks, tucked under a UPS cap, forced it to bulge out. About the same time, various unnamed UPS managers told Lewis that he "wasn't man enough to do the job." Another employee told him that the job was "probably too much" for him. Nuño told Lewis that he "was not the right person for the job." Mullan told Lewis that he was faking his injuries and did not want to work.

  After the meeting, Lewis told UPS for the first time that he wore dreadlocks because of a religious belief. God instructed Lewis in a dream, Lewis now states, to grow dreadlocks so as to embody the values held by Jesus. The Book of Revelations, he states, described Jesus as wearing his hair like "wool."

  Lewis made known his religious viewpoint to UPS via a request for religious accommodation. This was submitted after the meeting in March 2004. About that time, however, Lewis left again on workers' compensation. He remains on workers' compensation. He has not been fired. He has not trimmed his dreadlocks. UPS states that if and when Lewis advises that he is ready and willing to return to work, UPS stands ready and willing to engage in an interactive process to try to reach a religious accommodation over his dreadlocks.

  The foregoing is the view of the summary-judgment evidence most favorable to plaintiff. All claims are based on state law. Subject-matter jurisdiction is based on diversity-removal jurisdiction.

  ANALYSIS

  Summary judgment is proper where the pleadings, discovery and affidavits "show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." FRCP 56(c). A nonmoving party who bears the ultimate burden of proof at trial must "designate specific facts showing there is a genuine issue for trial." Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 324 (1986). It is not the task of the district court to scour the record in search of a genuine issue of triable fact. The nonmoving party has the burden of identifying with reasonable particularity the evidence that precludes summary judgment. Keenan v. Allen, 91 F.3d 1275, 1279 (9th Cir. 1996). A genuine dispute as to a material fact exists if there is sufficient evidence for a reasonable jury to return a verdict for the nonmoving party. On summary judgment, the "evidence of the non-movant is to be believed, and all justifiable inferences are to be drawn in his favor." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248, 252, 255 (1986).

  1. FIRST CLAIM: DISABILITY DISCRIMINATION.

  To prevail on his first claim, Lewis must prove that UPS barred or discharged him from employment, or discriminated against him in "terms, conditions, or privileges of employment" on account of his physical disability or medical condition. Cal. Gov't Code § 12940(a). To make out a prima facie case, Lewis must show that he (1) suffered from a disability or medical condition; (2) was otherwise qualified to do his job; and (3) was subject to adverse employment action by UPS because of his disability or medical condition. Finegan v. County of L.A., 109 Cal. Rptr. 2d 762, 767 (Cal.Ct.App. 2001).

  UPS challenges the disability/medical-condition claim by alleging that Lewis has not suffered any "adverse employment action" and that he cannot show that UPS's enforcement of the facially neutral hair-length policy was a pretext for discrimination on the basis of his disability or medical condition. For purposes of this motion, UPS does not challenge Lewis's claims that ...


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