United States District Court, N.D. California
ORDER RE SUMMARY JUDGMENT
DONATO United Mates District Judge.
plaintiff Rona Young sued her former employer, Peralta
Community College District (“District”), for
failure to provide her with reasonable accommodations after
she injured her right knee. The Court previously dismissed
Young's claims under the Age Discrimination in Employment
Act (“ADEA”) and Title VII of the Civil Rights
Act of 1964. The District now seeks summary judgment on her
remaining disability discrimination claim under the Americans
with Disabilities Act (“ADA”). The motion is
material facts are not meaningfully disputed. Young worked as
a Public Information Officer in the District for nearly 16
years, and retired in November 2010. Dkt. No. 69-2, Exh. A at
4, 7. She has experienced a number of health challenges over
the years, including physical injuries that resulted in
several corrective surgeries and physical therapy, and
cancer. Dkt. No. 77 (Young Decl.) ¶ 1. In these
difficult times, the District accommodated Young with medical
leave, modified duties, and ergonomic equipment. Dkt. No.
69-2, Exh. A at 7-9; Dkt. No. 83-1 (Williams Decl.), Exh. AA
(Young Depo.) at 218:2-17, 250:13-22.
injury at issue here happened in August 2009, when Young hurt
her right knee while working at Merritt College. Dkt. No. 77
¶¶ 13-14. In response, the President of Merritt
College and Young's supervisor, Dr. Robert Adams, the
District's Chancellor, and Young all agreed that she
could work from home as needed. Dkt. No. 69-2, Exh. A at 4;
Dkt. No. 83-1, Exh. AA at 105:7-12, 129:4-22. In October
2009, Young submitted a note from a treating physician, Dr.
Kenneth Kim, which said that “she will need provisions
for a motor-powered wheelchair or provisions for her to work
from home” for an additional period of time. Dkt. No.
83-1, Exh. AA at 121:17-122:6, 156:19-22; Dkt. No. 69-2, Exh.
C. The District continued to allow Young to work at home, and
she met weekly with Dr. Adams throughout this time to talk
“about the wheelchair; about what was going to happen
to my leg.” Dkt. No. 83-1, Exh. AA at 144:1-18; Dkt.
No. 69-2, Exh. A at 4.
January 2010, Young submitted a note from another treating
physician, Dr. Jacob Rosenberg, advising “TTD unless
accommodation met. Needs scooter or motorized wheelchair to
get around campus.” Dkt. No. 83-1, Exh. AA at
140:23-142:9; Dkt. No. 69-2, Exh. E. Young understood
“TTD” to be shorthand for “total temporary
disability, ” meaning that she would be out on medical
leave and that she would receive her salary paid out of her
sick leave, vacation or other accrued time. Dkt. No. 83-1,
Exh. AA at 148:19-21, 149:17-21. The District does not
disagree with this understanding. In response to Dr.
Rosenberg's note, Gregory Valentine, the District's
Risk Manager, told Young that the District would place her on
TTD. Id. at 150:2-6, 167:23-168:2.
March 2010, Young submitted two more notes from Dr.
Rosenberg, which again recommended “TTD” unless
Young could be accommodated with modified work and a
wheelchair through May 15, 2010. Id. at 167:4-18,
172:5-173:10; Dkt. No. 69-2, Exhs. G, J. Valentine told Young
in an email and possibly a phone call that the District
preferred continued leave out of concerns about “safety
hazards” and “logistical requirements” from
the temporary use of a motorized wheelchair. Dkt. No. 83-1,
Exh. AA at 169:4-10; Dkt. No. 69-2, Exh. H. In May 2010,
Young underwent knee surgery and submitted a doctor's
note stating that she would be unable to work for up to 3-4
months during recovery. Dkt. No. 83-1, Exh. AA at 175:1-8;
Dkt. No. 69-2, Exh. K. The District again put her on leave
during this time. Dkt. No. 83-1, Exh. AA at 175:5-7.
all of this was happening, the District experienced
significant budget cuts for the 2010-2011 year and eliminated
a number of jobs. Dkt. No. 69-3 (Lengel Decl.) ¶¶
3-4. In May 2010, Young's position as the Public
Information Officer was eliminated at Merritt College.
Id. ¶ 5. Because of her seniority in the
District, she was offered a transfer to the same job at the
College of Alameda. Id. She accepted the transfer.
Id.; Dkt. No. 83-1, Exh. AA at 199:11-15, 214:4-6.
Dr. Jannett Jackson, the Interim President of the College of
Alameda and Young's new supervisor, called to welcome
Young and told her “This is a flat campus. So you might
-- so you could use a wheelchair here.” Dkt. No. 83-1,
Exh. AA at 212:21-213:11.
August 2010, Young submitted a doctor's note releasing
her to work with medical restrictions “to do desk work
four hours per day but continue to be unable to walk around
campus.” Id. at 206:22-207:1, 209:3-9, Dkt.
No. 69-2, Exh. N. The District had internal discussions about
this request. Dkt. No. 83-1, Exh. AA at 217:1-9; Dkt. No.
69-2, Exh. P. Specifically, on August 31, 2010, Valentine
sent an internal email with a suggested “action
plan” for Young to return to work with accommodations
once additional information about her work restrictions was
confirmed. Dkt. No. 69-2, Exh. P. The email stated that Dr.
Jackson should contact Young, although Young says that she
never received notice of these conversations. Id.;
Dkt. No. 77 ¶ 7.
September 3, 2010, Young re-injured her knee at her
doctor's office, and subsequently submitted a
doctor's note stating that she should be “[o]ff
work pending trial of medication . . . until October 15,
2010.” Dkt. No. 83-1, Exh. AA at 219:2-5, 220:20-25,
221:25-223:16; Dkt. No. 69-2, Exh. S. The District continued
her medical leave through September 30, 2010, after which
Young submitted another note indicating that her status had
not changed and she would be evaluated again in a month. Dkt.
No. 69-2, Exh. T; Dkt. No. 83-1, Exh. AA at 223:17-21,
224:3-8 see also Dkt. No. 69-2, Exh. A at 5.
November 9, 2010, Young told the District that she was
electing to retire and submitted retirement paperwork. Dkt.
No. 69-2, Exh. A at 4; Dkt. No. 83-1 at 228:25-229:19. Young
made this decision with the help of union representatives,
and states that she retired out of concern that she might
lose her job and the possibility of lifetime medical
benefits. Dkt. No. 83-1, Exh. AA at 228:25-230:25,
232:9-233:18, 236:12-19. She speculates that if her physician
had classified her as “permanent and stationary,
” she would not have been accommodated, but there is no
evidence that this classification was ever made or formalized
with the District. Id.; Dkt. No. 77 ¶ 18.
16, 2011, Young filed a complaint with the California
Department of Fair Employment and Housing (“DFEH) and
the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
(“EEOC”). Dkt. No. 1 at 6, Exh. G. The EEOC
issued a right-to-sue letter on August 29, 2014. Dkt. No. 27,
Exh. A. Young filed this suit on December 5, 2014. On August
10, 2015, after briefing by the parties, the Court dismissed
the ADEA and Title VII claims for failure to exhaust
administrative remedies. Dkt. No. 29.
getting to the merits, the Court notes that Young is
proceeding pro se and that her complaint and summary judgment
filings reflect the difficulties non-layers often encounter
in dealing with complex employment laws. In the interest of
justice, the Court has construed Young's claims as
broadly as is fair and reasonable, and the District has taken
a similar approach by construing Young's complaint to
state several different grounds for relief under the ADA,
even though some of them are not clearly articulated. It
seeks summary judgment on the complaint as a whole. Dkt. No.
has submitted hundreds of pages of exhibits, but does not
cite to any of these materials in her opposition brief. Dkt.
No. 78. She directs the Court to her seven-page declaration,
with the implicit invitation that the Court undertake the
burden of finding supporting evidence. Id. at 3-4.
While the Court has liberally construed Young's claims
and arguments, it will not “scour the record in search
of a genuine issue of triable fact, ” Keenan v.
Allan, 91 F.3d 1275, 1279 (9th Cir. 1996) (internal
quotation omitted), or accept wholly conclusory statements as
true, Surrell v. Cal. Water Serv. Co., 518 F.3d
1097, 1103 (9th Cir. 2008). These rules apply to pro se
plaintiffs as ...