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Hawley v. The Travelers Companies, Inc.

United States District Court, E.D. Washington

April 24, 2015

SASHA HAWLEY, Plaintiff,
v.
THE TRAVELERS COMPANIES, INC., a foreign corporation doing business in the State of Washington, Defendant.

ORDER GRANTING MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT AND GRANTING MOTION TO DISMISS CERTAIN CLAIMS VOLUNTARILY

ROSANNA MALOUF PETERSON, Chief District Judge.

Before the Court are Defendant Travelers' Motion for Summary Judgment, ECF No. 18, and the parties' Stipulated Motion to Dismiss Certain Claims Voluntarily, ECF No. 23. The Court has considered the record and is fully informed.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff, Sasha Hawley, worked as an underwriter for Defendant, The Travelers Companies, Inc., from 2008 to 2013. ECF No. 25-1 at 1. Ms. Hawley contends that she consistently processed work faster than her colleagues and therefore was given higher daily goals. ECF No. 25-1 at 2. Ms. Hawley states that she was expected to complete 40 ARN transactions per work day, while two other coworkers had anticipated productivity levels of 20 or 25 ARNs per day. ECF No. 25-2 at 26.[1]

In approximately June or July 2012, however, Ms. Hawley began experiencing aches and cramping in her arms, wrists, and hands. ECF No. 25-1 at 2. She was diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome or severe tendonitis in September 2012. ECF No. 25-1 at 2.

Ms. Hawley's physician placed restrictions on her ability to work. ECF No. 25-1 at 2. Activity prescription forms dated November and early December release Ms. Hawley for full duty, limited to four hours per day. ECF No. 21 at 20, 21, 22. Travelers accommodated this restriction and reduced her daily goal by half, to 20 ARNs per day. ECF No. 21 at 2-3; see also ECF No. 20 at 3.

Later in December 2012, however, Ms. Hawley's physician further restricted her to completing ten items in a four-hour work period with a ten-minute break every hour to perform hand exercises and relax her hands. ECF Nos. 21 at 24; 25-1 at 4. Travelers refused to accommodate the new restriction. ECF Nos. 21 at 2; 22-13 at 175. Instead, on December 31, 2012, Ms. Hawley was placed on leave of absence through January 9, 2013, the end date of the restriction. ECF No. 22-13 at 175. Travelers continued Ms. Hawley's leave of absence until January 15 after Ms. Hawley's physician extended her work restrictions through that date. ECF No. 22-14. However, Travelers informed Ms. Hawley that it was "not obligated under state or federal law, to modify and reduce its productivity standards... regardless of the particulars of [her] or any other employee's medical circumstances." ECF No. 22-14. Travelers offered to explore reasonable accommodations with Ms. Hawley. ECF No. 22-14.

In February 2013, Travelers arranged for ARN transactions to be processed at another office and established uniform productivity expectations for all employees in Ms. Hawley's department, who instead would process "journal" transactions. ECF Nos. 22-1 at 58; 22-12. Because journal transactions purportedly were simpler than ARN transactions, Travelers set a higher daily production goal. ECF No. 22-12. Ms. Hawley and her peers would be expected to complete 45 journals per day. ECF No. 20 at 3.

Travelers provided accommodations for Ms. Hawley, including a new chair and an ergonomic keyboard, mouse, and wrist pad. ECF Nos. 21 at 2, Ex. 2 at 1; 22-1 at 54. Travelers also purchased an adjustable desk and installed voice recognition software for Ms. Hawley. See ECF Nos. 21 at 4, 33; 22-1 at 39.

The voice recognition software and adjustable desk were available for Ms. Hawley's use by March 13, 2013. ECF No. 21 at 4, 34.[2] Ms. Hawley arrived at the Travelers office on that date and gave Travelers an updated form from her physician, who released her to work eight-hour shifts with the ergonomic work station but limited her to processing no more than 30 items per day, to be increased by five items every two weeks. ECF Nos. 21 at 28; 22-6 at 147.

Ms. Hawley indicated that she was released to work as long as Travelers provided all of the accommodations that her physician had imposed, including the reduced daily goal. See ECF No. 22-6 at 147-48. Travelers again refused to accommodate Ms. Hawley's reduced productivity restriction and asked her to refrain from coming into work until she had an approved release. ECF No. 22-6 at 148. Travelers also deactivated Ms. Hawley's access badge. ECF No. 22-6 at 147.

Ms. Hawley and Travelers stayed in contact, but Ms. Hawley never returned to work. In April or May 2013, Travelers offered to grant Ms. Hawley the same 90-day "burn-in" period that her coworkers had been given to adjust to the employer's new quality and productivity requirements. See ECF No. 22-4 at 137. During the "burn-in" period, Ms. Hawley would not be required to meet the employer's minimum standards of productivity. ECF Nos. 21 at 5; 22-4 at 137.[3] Travelers asserted its belief that the "burn-in" period would be a sufficient length of time for Ms. Hawley to re-adjust to the job. ECF No. 22-4 at 137.

In May 2013, Ms. Hawley accepted a position at a different insurance company. ECF No. 22-1 at 38. After learning that Ms. Hawley had accepted another job, Travelers sent Ms. Hawley a letter terminating her employment. ECF No. 22-8.

Ms. Hawley filed suit in Spokane County Superior Court on January 2, 2014, alleging ten causes of action. ECF No. 1 at 2, Ex. 1 at 8-14.[4] The parties stipulate to the dismissal with prejudice of Ms. Hawley's first, second, fourth, fifth, sixth, and seventh claims. ECF No. 23. Ms. Hawley also voluntarily dismissed her tenth cause of action. ECF No. 25 ...


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