In Rodriguez v. Dollar General Corp., No. SA-19-CV-00713 (W.D. Tex. 7/30/2020), we see the uncommon instance in which the Western District does not accept the Defendant’s mis-characterization of the Plaintiff’s evidence. The case concerns a warehouse supervisor who suffered from diabetes. The diabetes lead to complications which caused pain and swelling in his feet. The doctor recommended Mr. Rodriguez take 15 minute breaks every two hours. Mr. Rodriguez could still work during those 15 minute breaks, but he needed to be off his feet.
The defendant disputed that the foot problem was due to diabetes. Dollar General claimed the foot issue was due to an injury or to plantar fasciitis. The court rightly found that evidence amounted to an issue of material fact. The employer also claimed that the supervisor did not experience pain or swelling in his feet when he was away form work. Dollar General even argued that Mr. Rodriguez did not seek an accommodation at prior or subsequent employment. But, as the court noted, the Plaintiff explained that he did not need to rest his feet every two hours at his subsequent job, because the job already provided breaks every two hours.
The court noted the inconsistency in the employer’s motion. It argued that Mr. Rodriguez did not need a 15 minute break in his personal life. The foot issue did not affect him in his personal life, said the employer. Yet, the employer also argued that his inability to walk without the 15 minute break made him unqualified for the warehouse supervisor position. Dollar General was saying on one hand that he did not need breaks in his personal life. While, at the same time, it argued that his need for breaks made him unqualified for the job. The employer was arguing contradictory positions.
Dollar General also claimed that Mr. Rodriguez was not qualified for the warehouse supervisor position. His inability to maneuver through the warehouse meant he could not perform the essential functions of the job. But, Plaintiff Rodriguez testified he could call breaks as needed. He was the supervisor, after all. Too, he can still perform some work during his 15 minute breaks. The court found this to be another issue of material fact that prevents summary judgment.
Regarding whether Dollar General provided the plaintiff an accommodation, the court noted that the employer said it offered Mr. Rodriguez a position that required less walking. But, the employer did not dispute Plaintiff’s claim that a HR manager told him Dollar General would not accommodate “any” restrictions. The HR manager said he would forward the request for 15 minute breaks, but there was no way it would be approved.
Dollar General argued that Mr. Rodriguez was requesting that his job be converted to a desk job. This was probably meant as hyperbole by the employer, but the court noted that this claim was not at all accurate. The court found the plaintiff had never said such a thing. The court then denied the motion for summary judgment. Hyperbole may provide some momentary satisfaction, but it does not help build credibility with the court.