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Young v. Peralta Community College District

United States District Court, N.D. California

August 10, 2015

RONA YOUNG, Plaintiff,
v.
PERALTA COMMUNITY COLLEGE DISTRICT, et al., Defendants.

ORDER RE MOTION TO DISMISS Re: Dkt. No. 18

JAMES DONATO, District Judge.

Pro se plaintiff Rona Young is suing her former employer, Peralta Community College District, for refusing to provide her with reasonable accommodations after she sustained a work-related injury. She brings claims under the Americans with Disability Act ("ADA"), the Age Discrimination in Employment Act ("ADEA") and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. As defendants note, neither the ADEA nor Title VII protects against employment discrimination on the basis of disability - these statutes protect against discrimination based on age, race, religion and other protected classes. But plaintiff alleges only disability discrimination, and has failed to exhaust her administrative remedies for any other claims. The ADEA and Title VII claims are therefore dismissed.

Plaintiff's ADA claim is timely and will move forward but only against Peralta Community College District. The parties agree that the individual defendants - Robert Adams, Gregory Valentine and Arthur London (who has not yet been served) - were improperly named. Dkt. No. 18 at 5-6; Dkt. No. 27 at 2; see Miller v. Maxwell's Int'l Inc., 991 F.2d 583, 587 (9th Cir. 1993) (Title VII and the ADEA do not impose individual liability on employees); see also Walsh v. Nevada Dept. of Human Resources, 471 F.3d 1033, 1038 (2006) ("individual defendants cannot be held personally liable for violations of the ADA"). Consequently, the individual defendants are dismissed with prejudice.

BACKGROUND

As alleged in the complaint, Rona Young was hired as a Staff Marketing Specialist by the Peralta Community College District ("PCCD") in 1994 and promoted to Public Information Officer at Merritt College (which is within the PCCD) one year later. Dkt. No. 1 at 4. She remained in that position for fifteen years. Id.

While working at Merritt College on August 25, 2009, Young injured her right knee and back. Id. at 4, Ex. G. As a result of the injury, she eventually received a total knee replacement on May 4, 2010. Id. at 4. After her injury but before the surgery, Young's supervisor - Dr. Robert Adams (President of Merritt College) - agreed to allow Young to work from home and come onto campus as necessary. Id. On January 3, 2010, when walking became too difficult, Dr. Jacob Rosenberg, Young's treating physician, suggested to PCCD that Young be accommodated with a motorized wheelchair or placed on Temporary Total Disability ("TTD") if she could not be properly accommodated. Id. at 4-5, Ex. G. On January 14, 2010, because the use of a motorized wheelchair was deemed "hazardous, " the request was denied. Id. Young was placed on industrial leave and continued to receive her full salary. Id. On March 2, 2010, Dr. Rosenberg again requested a wheelchair accommodation or, in the alternative, extended TTD. Id. The accommodation request was again denied, and Young's TTD was continued. Id.

On April 29, 2010, shortly before the May 4, 2010 surgery, Young's treating physician notified Dr. Adams that her post-operative recovery could take up to three or four months. Id. at 4, Ex. G. On May 7, 2010, three days after the surgery, Dr. Adams told Young that he "had decided to eliminate [her] position" and transfer her. Id. at 4. Young alleges that PCCD eliminated her Merritt College position because of her disability and because she "had suffered multiple bodily injuries over the fifteen years" she worked for PCCD. Id. at 7.

On May 28, 2010, Young received a layoff notice; she was given the option of being reassigned to her same position at the College of Alameda or being placed on a reemployment list. Id. at 5-6, Ex. G. She chose the former, and was transferred on August 15, 2010. Id. at Ex. G. Dr. Jannett Jackson, President of the College of Alameda, agreed to allow Young to use a motorized wheelchair. Id. at 8. But according to Young, she was never told that she would be accommodated. Id. Instead, she claims that she only discovered this fact four years later, in November 2014, through a FOIA request. Id. Young contends that as a result of this omission, she was forced to retire on November 10, 2010. Id.

Young filed a complaint with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing ("DFEH") and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on May 16, 2011. Id. at 6, Ex. G. On June 6, 2010, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") informed Young that it, and not the DFEH, would process her complaint. Id. The EEOC issued a right-to-sue letter on August 29, 2014. Dkt. No. 27, Ex. A. Plaintiff filed suit in this Court on December 3, 2014, alleging violations of the Americans with Disability Act ("ADA"), the Age Discrimination in Employment Act ("ADEA") and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Dkt. No. 1.

DISCUSSION

A complaint must be dismissed under Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure if the facts, as alleged in the complaint, are not sufficient to make out a legal claim. See SmileCare Dental Group v. Delta Dental Plan of Calif., Inc., 88 F.3d 780, 783 (9th Cir. 1996). All material allegations of the complaint are taken as true and considered in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. See Parks Sch. of Bus. v. Symington, 51 F.3d 1480, 1484 (9th Cir. 1995). The complaint must contain sufficient factual matter to "state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). When a court dismisses for failure to state a claim pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6), it should normally grant leave to amend unless it determines that the pleading could not possibly be cured by the allegation of other facts. Cook, Perkiss & Liehe v. N. Cal. Collection Serv., 911 F.2d 242, 247 (9th Cir. 1990).

I. ADMINISTRATIVE EXHAUSTION

In addition to an ADA claim, plaintiff's complaint also attempts to state violations of Title VII and the ADEA. Title VII prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex or national origin, while the ADEA prohibits employment discrimination against individuals between the ages of 40 and 70. See 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2; 29 U.S.C. § 613(a).

As an initial matter, the Court notes that the complaint is bereft of facts showing discrimination on any of the grounds these statutes address. The complaint alleges facts supporting disability discrimination alone. This is ...


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