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Roberta Baker v. County of Merced

July 12, 2011

ROBERTA BAKER,
PLAINTIFF,
v.
COUNTY OF MERCED, A PUBLIC ENTITY,
DEFENDANT.



ORDER ON DEFENDANT'S RULE 12(b)(6) MOTION TO DISMISS

(Doc. No. 16)

This is an employment discrimination claim brought by Plaintiff Roberta Baker ("Baker") against Defendant County of Merced ("the County"). Baker brings three claims under the federal Americans with Disabilities Act (42 U.S.C. § 12100 et seq.) ("ADA") and seven claims under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act. The active complaint is the First Amended Complaint ("FAC"). The County moves to dismiss the ADA claims under Rule 12(b)(6). For the reasons that follow, the Court will grant the motion to dismiss.

ALLEGATIONS

From the FAC, on March 30, 2006, Baker was involved in a car accident in which she sustained a neck, shoulder tear/impingement, and knee injuries. See FAC ¶ 10. On April 11, 2006, Baker received word from a co-worker that Baker's supervisor and other co-workers were saying that Baker was going to milk her injuries and that Baker was a "whiney baby" and a "sissy la la." Id. at ¶ 11. Baker was off work for one month because of the injuries she sustained in the car accident. See id. at ¶ 12. On May 2, 2006, Baker returned to work on a part time basis.

See id. at ¶ 14. Baker's supervisor demanded a medical release. See id. When Baker provided the release, the release requested reasonable accommodation for Baker to continue with physical therapy. See id. Baker's supervisor blurted out in front of co-workers that the release was for only four hour days and then berated Baker. See id. The supervisor had a history of discriminating against employees with disabilities, and the supervisor began to treat Baker differently after the accident. See id. at ¶ 15. Specifically, the supervisor stopped consulting with Baker, was rude, abrupt, condescending, and tried to intimidate and prevent Baker from continuing with physical therapy. See id. The supervisor also insisted that Baker maintain a full work load even though Baker was only cleared to work half days. See id. at ¶ 16. On June 5, 2006, Baker returned to work full time, but continued with physical therapy. See id. at ¶ 17. The supervisor continued to try and intimidate Baker from pursuing physical therapy. See id.

In July 2006, Baker was not offered re-employment to a position that she had held previously, but had given up as part of a reduction in force in 2003. See id. at ¶ 18.

In April 2007, Baker was denied a promotion despite being the number one candidate as determined by a merit review panel; the County instead chose the fifth ranked candidate. See id. at ¶ 24.

In April 2008, Baker was denied another promotion despite again being ranked number one. See id. at ¶ 26.

In May 2008, Baker had shoulder surgery related to the injury she had sustained in the March 2006 car accident. See id. at ¶ 27. Baker was out of work for three to four months to recuperate. See id.

On May 5, 2009, Baker was humiliated in front of co-workers by her new supervisor with respect to computer training. See id. at ¶ 28. The new supervisor continued to harass and berate Baker. See id. at ¶ 30. The new supervisor's conduct made Baker upset, confused, and physically sick. See id. Baker went to her doctor because her blood pressure was very high. See id. The physician ordered Baker off of work related stress, and recommended a psychologist. See id.

On May 26, 2009, Baker, her husband, and a County representative met to discuss Baker's complaints of harassment and discrimination. See id. at ¶ 31. Baker provided examples of how her supervisor singled her out and treated her differently. See id. Baker revealed that her blood pressure was over 200. See id. Baker's doctor placed her on disability leave. See id. at ¶ 32.

On April 25, 2011, Baker returned from her disability leave following an interactive process with the County. See id. at ¶ 33.

LEGAL FRAMEWORK

Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), a claim may be dismissed because of the plaintiff's "failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted." Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6). A dismissal under Rule 12(b)(6) may be based on the lack of a cognizable legal theory or on the absence of sufficient facts alleged under a cognizable legal theory. Johnson v. Riverside Healthcare Sys., 534 F.3d 1116, 1121 (9th Cir. 2008); Navarro v. Block, 250 F.3d 729, 732 (9th Cir. 2001). In reviewing a complaint under Rule 12(b)(6), all allegations of material fact are taken as true and construed in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. Marceau v. Blackfeet Hous. Auth., 540 F.3d 916, 919 (9th Cir. 2008); Vignolo v. Miller, 120 F.3d 1075, 1077 (9th Cir. 1999). The Court must also assume that general allegations embrace the necessary, specific facts to support the claim. Smith v. Pacific Prop. and Dev. Corp., 358 F.3d 1097, 1106 (9th Cir. 2004). But, the Court is not required "to accept as true allegations that are merely conclusory, unwarranted deductions of fact, or unreasonable inferences." In re Gilead Scis. Sec. Litig., 536 F.3d 1049, 1056-57 (9th Cir. 2008); Sprewell v. Golden State Warriors, 266 F.3d 979, 988 (9th Cir. 2001). Although they may provide the framework of a complaint, legal conclusions are not accepted as true and "[t]hreadbare recitals of elements of a cause of action, supported by mere ...


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