United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, El Dorado Division
O. Hickey United States District Judge
the Court is a Motion for Summary Judgment filed by
Defendants. ECF No. 24. Plaintiff has filed a response (ECF
No. 29),  and Defendants have filed a reply. ECF No.
31. The Court finds this matter ripe for consideration.
the Housing Authority of the City of Magnolia, Arkansas
(“Housing Authority”), employed Plaintiff Paul
Voss for approximately fourteen years. Voss held the position
of maintenance supervisor at all times relevant to this
lawsuit. He was responsible for the technical supervision of
maintenance activities for low-rent housing developments. In
performing his duties, Voss drove a Housing Authority pickup
truck and occasionally operated Housing Authority equipment,
such as a backhoe, tractor, and lawnmower. Voss also
purchased supplies from vendors. Voss reported directly to
Defendant Richard Wyse, Executive Director of the Housing
February 25, 2014, all Housing Authority employees who were
present were drug tested. Voss failed the drug test because
he tested positive for opiates/morphine. On March 13, 2014,
Executive Director Wyse informed Voss that he had failed the
drug test and suspended Voss without pay.
next day, Voss emailed Wyse a copy of Voss’s
hydrocodone prescription. Because Voss was taking hydrocodone
at the time of the testing, the drug test was positive for
opiate/morphine. In an email response, Wyse thanked Voss for
providing a copy of the prescription and asked that Voss
provide a letter from his team of healthcare professionals
acknowledging the prescription and stating whether any side
effects of the prescribed medication could hinder
Voss’s ability to perform his work duties. Voss did not
respond to the email.
March 24, 2014, Wyse sent Voss a letter again asking for an
acknowledgement from Voss’s healthcare professionals
that Voss had been prescribed the medication. The letter also
requested that Voss’s healthcare professionals describe
how and when Voss took the prescription and state whether any
side effects of the prescribed medication could hinder
Voss’s ability to perform his work duties. Voss
received the letter but did not respond.
April 1, 2014, the Magnolia city attorney mailed Voss a
letter requesting that Voss provide the Housing Authority
with the previously requested information regarding his
prescription. The letter noted that Voss’s pay was
reinstated, retroactively, and that a suspension with pay
could not be indefinite. By letter dated April 14, 2014, Voss
again was instructed to provide the Housing Authority with
the requested information by April 18, 2014. The letter
further instructed Voss to return to work no later than April
21, 2014. Voss did not respond to the letter and did not
return to work. On April 23, 2014, the city attorney informed
Voss that if he did not provide the Housing Authority with
the information regarding his prescription by May 5, 2014,
the Housing Authority would terminate his employment. Voss
did not respond to the letter or provide the requested
information to the Housing Authority.
5, 2014, the city attorney sent Voss another letter informing
him that Wyse accepted his explanation for the drug screen
results and wished for Voss to return to work. The letter
requested that Voss return to work no later than May 12,
2014. Voss did not return to work that day, but he did call
in sick. Voss returned to work on May 14, 2014.
Voss returned to work, he met with Wyse. Voss had not
submitted a physician’s statement indicating that he
could safely perform his job duties while taking hydrocodone.
Thus, Voss was restricted from operating the Housing
Authority’s vehicles and equipment pending receipt of
the requested information regarding the hydrocodone
prescription. Wyse informed Voss that, because of funding
issues, he was not to place any orders for supplies without
advanced approval from Wyse.
claims that he told Wyse at the May 14 meeting that he had a
70% rating,  that he had arthritis and sciatica, and
that there were things he used to be able to do that he could
not do now. Voss cannot recall what exactly he told Wyse he
was unable to do, and Voss does not claim that Wyse made him
do any of these unnamed activities or duties.
worked on May 15 and May 16, 2014. On May 19, Voss left a
resignation letter in Wyse’s office while Wyse was out.
Voss claims that he resigned because he could not stand the
restrictions regarding operating vehicles and equipment
pending the receipt of the requested information, because he
was unable to make purchases without Wyse’s approval,
and because Wyse had called him once on his company provided
cellphone and told him to get back to work.
Voss had returned to work, on May 6, 2014, he signed a charge
of discrimination that was filed with the Equal Employment
Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”). ECF No. 24-4.
Voss alleged that he was placed on suspension and discharged
because he refused to provide a copy of all his prescription
medications. On May 16, 2014, Voss signed an amended charge
of discrimination that was filed with the EEOC. ECF No. 24-5.
Voss alleged that he was suspended and threatened with
termination because he did not provide the Housing Authority
with the requested information regarding his prescription.
The amended charge stated that Wyse asked Voss whether he had
filed an EEOC complaint. In the “discrimination based
on” section in the amended charge, Voss checked the
boxes for disability and retaliation.
EEOC issued a right-to-sue letter on September 30, 2014. ECF
No. 1-1. On January 5, 2015, Voss filed the present lawsuit.
In a March 23, 2016 order, the Court dismissed some of
Voss’s claims. ECF No. 20. The order stated that the
remaining claims are as follows: (1) Voss’s claim that
the Housing Authority discriminated against him because of a
perceived disability; (2) Voss’s due process claim that
he was deprived of a constitutionally protected property
right; and (3) Voss’s claim that he was retaliated
against for reporting discriminatory conduct in violation of
Title VII. ECF No. 20, p. 9. The Housing Authority and Wyse
assert that they are entitled to summary judgment on all of
the remaining claims.
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provide that when a party
moves for summary judgment:
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.
Civ. P. 56(a); Krenik v. County of LeSueur, 47 F.3d
953 (8th Cir.1995). The Supreme Court has issued the
following guidelines for trial courts to determine whether
this standard has been satisfied:
The inquiry performed is the threshold inquiry of determining
whether there is a need for trial-whether, in other words,
there are genuine factual issues that properly can be
resolved only by a finder of fact because they ...