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Mir v. L-3 Communications Integrated Systems L.P.

United States District Court, N.D. Texas, Dallas Division

November 8, 2017

PETER MIR, Plaintiff,


          Sam A. Lindsay United States District Judge.

         Before the court is Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 40), filed January 9, 2017. After careful consideration of the motion, briefs, appendix, record, and applicable law, the court grants in part and denies in part Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment. Specifically, Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment is granted with regard to Plaintiff's discrimination claim under the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) and denied with regard to Plaintiff's prohibited inquiries claim under the ADA.

         I. Procedural and Factual Background

         Plaintiff Peter Mir (“Plaintiff” or “Mir”) filed this action against Defendant L-3 Communications Integrated Systems, L.P. (“Defendant” or “L-3 Communications”) on August 24, 2015. Mir contends that L-3 Communications discriminated against him in violation of the ADA when it did not hire him for one of two open positions. He also contends that L-3 Communications made inquiries about the nature and severity of his visible physical limitations in violation of the ADA.

         On January 9, 2017, L-3 Communications moved for summary judgment on Mir's claims of ADA discrimination and prohibited inquiries. The court now sets forth the facts in accordance with the standard in Section II of this opinion. Mir has suffered from hip problems throughout his life and has had a number of surgeries on his right hip, including multiple hip replacement operations or revisions. In 2005, during his last hip replacement, the sciatic nerve on one side of his hip was crushed, which caused permanent nerve damage. As a result, Mir walks with a pronounced limp and uses a cane to assist him while walking. In 2005, the injury ultimately required Mir to go on long-term disability. In 2006, Mir's long-term disability benefits provider required him to apply for social security benefits to offset the long-term disability benefits. On his April 12, 2006 application, Mir indicated that he was unable to work because of a damaged nerve in his right leg and a condition known as “foot drop.” Additionally, an Adult Disability & Work Report, prepared by Pamela Ramert, a representative of Allsup, Inc., a company the insurer used to assist people with their social security applications, completed a detailed analysis on Mir's injuries. The Social Security Administration (“SSA”) approved Mir's application, and he was awarded SSA benefits.

         In 2007, Mir underwent another surgery to correct his hip, and he was physically able to return to work in 2008. In 2011, Mir applied to work for L-3 Communications in its Greenville, Texas facility. He applied to a post on L-3 Communications's website for a Mechanical Design Engineer position (the “Position”). On October 11, 2011, Bill Buckley, a recruiter in L-3 Communications's Human Resources Department, contacted Mir and scheduled his interview for October 17, 2011. The Mechanical Design Engineer job posting listed qualifications for the position as follows:

Bachelors Degree in Mechanical or Civil Engineering with a minimum of 8 years of experience or Bachelor's Degree with related experience. The candidate must have a knowledge of manufacturing processes, which include machining, NC programming, sheet metal and assembly. Additional knowledge of HDL Aircraft installation procedures is a plus. He/She should have experience with what constitutes a good engineering design with respect to producibility issues. In additional to these skills, the ability to work simultaneous projects and operate in a dynamic, fast-paced cross-functional environments is required. Strong written and oral communication skills are essential.

Pl.'s App. 143. On October 17, 2011, L-3 Communications interviewed Mir for the position. Chad Grant (“Grant”), a department head at L-3 Communications, met Mir at a recruiter's office and led him to his office, which was located in a separate building to conduct the interview. During the walk to his office, approximately 100 yards away, Grant asked Mir questions regarding his ability to walk. Mir advised Grant that he had a hip replacement surgery, a mistake was made, and his sciatic nerve was crushed.

         The interview commenced once Mir and Grant reached his office. Grant advised Mir on responsibilities associated with the Position and asked Mir various questions regarding his background and experience. Grant also asked questions regarding the nature and extent of Mir's physical limitations. Specifically, Grant made inquiries as to Mir's short and long-term prognoses and a timeline of when the injuries occurred. Mir testified that the discussion concerning his injuries lasted approximately fifteen minutes. Approximately three weeks after the interview, Bill Buckley, L-3 Communications's human resources representative, called Mir to inform him that L-3 Communications declined to offer him the Position.

         On August 11, 2012, Mir filed a complaint with the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (“OFCCP”) because of Grant's inquiries about his injuries during his interview with L-3 Communications. On March 25, 2013, the OFCCP sent Mir a Notification of Results of Investigation, which concluded that L-3 had discriminated against him because of his disability. In May 2015, however, the OFCCP issued a Revised Notification of Results of Investigation, declared that there was insufficient evidence to conclude that L-3 Communications had discriminated against Mir because of his disability, and issued him a notice of right to sue. Mir initiated this action following the OFCCP's notice of right to sue.

         L-3 Communications moves for summary judgment on Mir's claims of ADA discrimination and prohibited inquiries. L-3 communications contends that Mir is unable to establish a prima facie case under the ADA because he is not a qualified individual and that it did not discriminate against him because of his disability. Moreover, L-3 Communications contends that even assuming Mir can establish a prima facie case, L-3 Communications has set forth a legitimate nondiscriminatory reason for rejecting him for the position, and Mir fails to demonstrate evidence of pretext for discrimination. L-3 Communications further argues that Mir's claim for improper inquiries under the ADA fails because of a lack of evidence of damages proximately caused by the alleged inquiries. Accordingly, L-3 Communications contends that it is entitled to a summary judgment on all of Mir's claims. Plaintiff counters that the summary judgment record, when viewed in the light most favorable to Mir, demonstrates that he has made a prima facie case of discrimination, and that L-3 Communications's reason for rejecting him for the position is pretextual. Accordingly, Mir contends that the court should deny L-3 Communications's Motion for Summary Judgment.

         II. Motion for Summary Judgment Standard

         Summary judgment shall be granted when the record shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a); Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323-25 (1986); Ragas v. Tennessee Gas Pipeline Co., 136 F.3d 455, 458 (5th Cir. 1998). A dispute regarding a material fact is “genuine” if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict in favor of the nonmoving party. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). When ruling on a motion for summary judgment, the court is required to view all facts and inferences in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party and resolve all disputed facts in favor of the nonmoving party. Boudreaux v. Swift Transp. Co., Inc., 402 F.3d 536, 540 (5th Cir. 2005). Further, a court “may not make credibility determinations or weigh the evidence” in ruling on a motion for summary judgment. Reeves v. Sanderson Plumbing Prods., Inc., 530 U.S. 133, 150 (2000); Anderson, 477 U.S. at 254-55.

         Once the moving party has made an initial showing that there is no evidence to support the nonmoving party's case, the party opposing the motion must come forward with competent summary judgment evidence of the existence of a genuine dispute of material fact. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio, 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986). On the other hand, “if the movant bears the burden of proof on an issue, either because he is the plaintiff or as a defendant he is asserting an affirmative defense, he must establish beyond peradventure all of the essential elements of the claim or defense to warrant judgment in his favor.” Fontenot v. Upjohn Co., 780 F.2d 1190, 1194 (5th Cir. 1986) (emphasis in original). “[When] the record taken as a whole could not lead a rational trier of fact to find for the nonmoving party, there is no ‘genuine [dispute] for trial.'” Matsushita, 475 U.S. at 587. (citation omitted). Mere conclusory allegations are not competent summary judgment evidence, and thus are insufficient to ...

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