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Rendon v. Moses Lake Community Health Center

United States District Court, E.D. Washington

February 21, 2018

ALICE A. RENDON, Plaintiff,


          Stanley A. Bastian United States District Judge

         Before the Court is Plaintiff's Complaint, ECF No. 5. Magistrate Judge John T. Rodgers granted Plaintiff's application to proceed in forma pauperis and recommended the Complaint be reviewed for legal sufficiency. Having reviewed the Complaint and liberally construing its allegations in the light most favorable to Plaintiff, the Court dismisses without prejudice Plaintiff's Complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. Plaintiff shall file any amended Complaint no later than April 20, 2018.


         Alice Rendon initiated this action[1] against her former employer, Moses Lake Community Health Center, on May 15, 2017. The Complaint states a cause of action under the Rehabilitation Act, 29 U.S.C. §§ 701, et seq.; and the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”), 42 U.S.C. §§ 12101, et seq. ECF No. 5.

         In her Complaint, Plaintiff alleges that on or about April 2007, she was hired to perform duties as a Benefit Specialist. She alleges she has a disability within the meaning of the ADA and that despite at least five requests to the supervisor and human resources, she was not accommodated for her disability. Plaintiff further alleges she was subjected to disparate treatment for no reason other than to aggravate her disability, and that she was retaliated against for disclosing fraud that occurred from 2014-2016.


         Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1918(e)(2)(B), the Court shall dismiss an in forma pauperis complaint at any time if the action: (a) “is frivolous or malicious”; (b) “fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted”; or “seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief.” To avoid dismissal, a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 664 (2009). While detailed factual allegations are not necessary, the plaintiff must provide more than “labels and conclusions” or a “formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action.” Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). The factual allegations must be “enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level.” Id. The complaint may be dismissed if it lacks a cognizable legal theory or states insufficient facts to support a cognizable legal theory. Zixiang Li v. Kerry, 710 F.3d 995, 999 (9th Cir. 2013).

         The Court holds pro se plaintiffs to less stringent pleading standards than represented plaintiffs, and liberally construes a pro se complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007). When dismissing a complaint under § 1915(e), the Court gives pro se plaintiffs leave to amend unless “it is absolutely clear that the deficiencies of the complaint could not be cured by amendment.” Cato v. United States, 70 F.3d 1103, 1106 (9th Cir. 1995).


         Plaintiff brings claims under the ADA and Rehabilitation Act alleging failure to accommodate, disparate treatment, and retaliation. The Court dismisses Plaintiff's Complaint because it states insufficient facts to support a cognizable theory of disability discrimination or retaliation.

         Failure to Accommodate/Disparate Treatment

         The standards used to determine whether an act of discrimination violated the Rehabilitation Act are the same standards applied under the ADA. 29 U.S.C. § 794(d); see also Coons v. Sec'y of U.S. Dept. of Treasury, 383 F.3d 879, 884 (9th Cir. 2004). To establish a prima facie case of disability discrimination under the ADA, a plaintiff must demonstrate (1) she is disabled within the meaning of the ADA; (2) she is a qualified individual able to perform the essential functions of the job with reasonable accommodation; and (3) she suffered an adverse employment action because of her disability. Allen v. Pac. Bell, 348 F.3d 1113, 1114 (9th Cir. 2003).

         An individual qualifies as disabled if she, (1) “has a physical mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, ” (2) “a record of such an impairment, ” or (3) “[is] regarded as having such an impairment.” 42 U.S.C. § 12102(1); see also Coons, 383 F.3d at 884.

         An individual is “otherwise qualified for employment” if she is someone “who, with or without reasonable accommodation, can perform the essential functions of the employment position that such individual holds or desires.” 42 U.S.C. § 12111(8). Even when a disabled employee cannot perform the essential functions of her job unassisted, she can still be qualified for the position if she could accomplish its essential functions “with . . . reasonable accommodation.” Id. Reasonable accommodation may include (1) “making existing facilities used by employees readily accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities, ” and (2) “job restructuring, part-time or modified work schedules, reassignment to a vacant position, acquisition or modification of equipment devices, appropriate ...

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