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Moses v. State Farm Insurance

United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Southern Division

January 29, 2015

BARRY MOSES, Plaintiff,



I. Introduction

In this opinion, the Court considers defendant State Farm's argument that plaintiff Barry Moses's discrimination claims against the company are time-barred because Mr. Moses waited too long - more than 180 days - to file a discrimination charge with the EEOC. Mr. Moses's discrimination charge concerns his contention that State Farm demoted him when he returned from medical leave. Mr. Moses filed his EEOC charge, at the earliest, on April 1, 2013. Mr. Moses contends that October 12, 2012 is the trigger date for the 180-day filing window. If he is correct, then he filed his EEOC charge on time. State Farm contends that either May 24, 2012 or September 12, 2012 is the trigger date; either date makes Mr. Moses's EEOC charge untimely. For the reasons stated below, the Court finds that State Farm has the better end of the argument. Therefore, the Court will grant State Farm's summary judgment motion.

II. Standard of Review

"The court shall grant summary judgment if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). State Farm moves for summary judgment on the basis of an affirmative defense for which State Farm bears the burden of proof. "If the movant bears the burden of proof on an issue, because, as a defendant, it is asserting an affirmative defense, it must establish that there is no genuine issue of material fact as to any element of that defense." International Stamp Art, Inc. v. U.S. Postal Service, 456 F.3d 1270, 1274 (11th Cir. 2006) (citing Martin v. Alamo Community College Dist., 353 F.3d 409, 412 (5th Cir. 2003)).

When considering a summary judgment motion, the Court must view the evidence in the record in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. Hill v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 510 Fed.Appx. 810, 813 (11th Cir. 2013). "The court need consider only the cited materials, but it may consider other materials in the record." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(3). For the purposes of summary judgment, courts are to review job discrimination claims no differently than any other kind of summary judgment motions. Chapman v. AI Transport, 229 F.3d 1012, 1025 (11th Cir. 2000) (quoting St. Mary's Honor Ctr. v. Hicks, 509 U.S. 502, 504 (1993)).

III. Factual and Procedural Background

Mr. Moses began working for State Farm in 2005. (Doc. 11-2, ¶ 2). After suffering a heart attack in early 2012, Mr. Moses took medical leave. (Doc. 11-2, ¶ 3). At the time of the heart attack, Mr. Moses worked as a claim processer in Birmingham, Alabama. (Doc. 11, p. 2). While he was on leave, State Farm notified Mr. Moses that his paid medical leave would end on April 11, 2012 and that he could either return to work then or take unpaid medical leave. (Doc. 11-2, ¶ 3). Mr. Moses chose to return to work. ( Id. ).

Shortly after Mr. Moses returned to work, a doctor set work restrictions for Mr. Moses. (Doc. 11, p. 2). Mr. Moses advised State Farm of the restrictions. ( Id. ). State Farm's ADA committee met and decided that while the restrictions were in place, Mr. Moses could not perform his job with or without reasonable accommodations. (Doc.9-1, p. 1 ¶ 5; Doc. 8, pp. 2-3). On May 24, 2012, Angela Palmer, a State Farm employee, notified Mr. Moses that State Farm's ADA committee had determined he was no longer able to perform his essential job duties. (Doc. 11-2, ¶ 11). State Farm put Mr. Moses on leave while the company attempted to find a job that he could perform with his medical restrictions. (Doc. 9-1, ¶ 5).

On September 12, 2012, State Farm offered Mr. Moses a job in Atlanta.[1] (Doc. 9-1, ¶ 6). The job paid less than the job that Mr. Moses held before he suffered a heart attack, and the job required Mr. Moses to move from Birmingham to Atlanta. (Doc. 11-2, ¶ 17). Mr. Moses claims he was "advised that he would have to take a demotion to P A 2' from his current position as a P A 3' in Atlanta, Georgia, as well as, he was advised of the associated loss in pay and benefits from that demotion." (Doc. 11, ¶ 5). Mr. Moses acknowledges that he told State Farm that he would take the job. ( See Doc. 11, ¶¶ 5-6).

State Farm extended Mr. Moses's medical leave through October 2012 because the company could not offer Mr. Moses training for his new position until then. (Doc. 9-1, ¶ 6). On October 12, 2012, Mr. Moses "was unable to report to the position in Atlanta[, ] Georgia because it was a demotion [and] a decrease in pay and benefits[.]" (Doc. 11, ¶ 6). On either October 12, 2012 or October 15, 2012, Mr. Moses effectively resigned from State Farm. ( See Docs. 11, p. 3; 9-1, p. 2).

Mr. Moses filled out an EEOC intake form on April 1, 2013 and faxed and mailed the form to the EEOC on April 3, 2013. (Doc. 11, ¶ 7; Doc. 11-1, pp. 1, 4). Mr. Moses checked Box 2 on the intake form, indicating that he "want[ed] to file a charge of discrimination, and [he] authorize[d] the EEOC to look into the discrimination [he] described [on the form]." (Doc. 11-1, p. 4). He filed his official charge of discrimination with the EEOC on May 9, 2013. (Doc. 9-1, p. 6).

Mr. Moses filed this lawsuit on January 24, 2014. He alleges that State Farm unlawfully discriminated against him on the basis of disability, age, and sexual orientation. He asserts claims under the ADA, ADEA, and Title VII, respectively. (Doc. 1). State Farm seeks judgment as a matter of law on all of Mr. Moses's claims on the basis of the statute of limitations. (Doc. 8). Both parties have submitted briefs regarding State Farm's motion, and the ...

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