United States District Court, E.D. Arkansas, Western Division
M. MOODY, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
is the Defendant's motion for summary judgment. (Docket
#19). Plaintiff has filed a response and Defendant has filed
a reply. For the reasons set forth herein, the motion is
Green Bay Packaging, Inc. (“Green Bay”) is a
privately held corporation with its headquarters in Green
Bay, Wisconsin. Green Bay operates the Arkansas Kraft
Division, a mill outside of Morrilton, Arkansas (“the
Mill”). Plaintiff Lonnie Russell Andrews
(“Andrews”) was employed at the Mill from
approximately 1989 to the date of his termination in August,
2017. Prior to his termination Andrews was an Electrical and
Instrumentation Maintenance Technician. On October 30, 2017,
Andrews filed suit against Green Bay in the Circuit Court of
Conway, Arkansas. Green Bay removed the case to this Court on
December 1, 2017. Andrews alleges causes of action for
disability discrimination, failure to accommodate and
retaliation pursuant to the Arkansas Civil Rights Act, Ark.
Code Ann. §16-123-107; wrongful termination; breach of
the collective bargaining agreement; and violations of public
policy. Green Bay seeks summary judgment on each of
Andrews' claims. Andrews does not dispute that Green Bay
is entitled to summary judgment on his breach of
contract/collective bargaining agreement claim and on his
claim for wrongful termination based on public policy.
Court will examine the remaining claims.
January 8, 2016, Andrews provided Green Bay with a letter,
sent on behalf of Dr. Jeremy Saul, stating that he was being
treated for post-traumatic stress disorder
(“PTSD”) and anxiety and asked that Green Bay
“consider accommodating any reasonable accommodations
that the patient has requested to help alleviate his anxiety
and post-traumatic stress symptoms.” (ECF No. 21-3, p.
2). The letter did not list any particular accommodations
requested. (Id.). On January 18, 2016, Andrews
provided a letter listing the accommodations he sought. (ECF
21-4, p. 2). Andrews' January 18, 2016,
accommodation request seeks the following accommodations, to
be provided for an indefinite period of time:
a. Andrews asked not to be “forced to go to the Machine
Room E&I Shop for any reason” because he had been
“threaten[ed] and bull[ied]” there.
b. Andrews asked that he not have any contact with Steve
Ballard, a co-worker who screamed at him.
c. Andrews asked to have no contact with his supervisor Lucas
Law and that any instructions given to him by Mr. Law be in
writing with a witness present.
d. Andrews asked that only under “extreme
situations” should he have to work with Monty West
because he did not “trust him”.
e. Andrews asked that he be excused from any situation where
he felt “vulnerable or at risk.” f. Andrews asked
that he be free to ask for additional accommodations as he
(Id.). In a January 21, 2016 e-mail, Andrews stated
“it was not my desire to formally ask for
accommodations for this disability (PTSD).” (ECF No.
21-5, p. 2). On January 25, 2016, Green Bay acknowledged
Andrews' request and asked that he provide a medical
certification showing that the accommodation requests came
directly from his medical provider. Green Bay informed
Andrews that once it received the medical certification, it
would review the accommodations and follow up with
Andrews' medical provider if necessary. (ECF No. 21-6, p.
2). In a January 25, 2016 e-mail Andrews refused to go back
to his doctor for medical certification. (ECF 21-6, p. 3). On
January 26, 2016, Andrews withdrew his request for
accommodation during mediation with Green Bay. (ECF No. 20-3,
p.49-50). Andrews claims that he withdrew his request for
accommodations because he thought he was going to be fired.
(Id.). On February 16, 2016, Ms. Drilling sent an
e-mail to Andrews asking him if Green Bay had permission to
contact his doctor with questions. (ECF No. 21-7, p. 2). On
February 17, 2016, Andrews e-mailed Green Bay stating he
“cannot give the approval” for Green Bay to
contact his doctor. (Id.).
Bay asked Andrews again during a February 22, 2016 meeting if
William Cone, Green Bay's Vice President and General
Manager - Arkansas Kraft Division, could contact Andrews'
doctor. Andrews refused. (ECF 20-3 p. 234). During the
February 22, 2016 meeting, Mr. Cone advised Andrews that
Green Bay needed to talk to his doctor to discuss his
accommodations and because they had numerous employees that
had expressed concern about his change in behavior and about
him potentially causing harm to himself or others. (ECF No.
20-3, p. 234). On February 29, 2016 Green Bay placed Andrews
on paid leave until an appointment with a psychiatrist could
be made. (ECF No. 20-3, p. 60). On March 8, 2016, Andrews had
an examination with Counselling Associates, Inc.
(Id.). Counseling Associates, Inc. sent a fax to
Green Bay on that date stating, “CAI cannot determine
if Lonnie is fit to return to work or not.”
(Id. at p. 61).
March 11, 2016, Mr. Cone and Ms. Drilling met with Andrews to
discuss his accommodation requests (ECF No. 20-3, p. 63).
During the March 11, 2016 meeting, Andrews again withdrew his
accommodation requests stating, “I am not asking for
accommodations” and further stating “you can put
me back in the crew tomorrow; I'm not asking for
March 15, 2016, Andrews sent an e-mail to Green Bay restating
that he was no longer seeking accommodations. (ECF No. 21-9,
p. 2). Andrews stated that he was still concerned for his
safety while on company property. On March 17, 2016, Green
Bay sent Andrews a follow-up e-mail reminding him that it
needed specific information from his physician to further
consider any accommodations. (ECF No. 21-10, p. 2). By email
dated March 21, 2016, Andrews stated: “[t]his ...