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Carpentier v. Alliance for Sustainable Energy, LLC

United States District Court, D. Colorado

February 8, 2018

JOSEPH CARPENTIER, Plaintiff,
v.
ALLIANCE FOR SUSTAINABLE ENERGY, LLC, Defendant.

          ORDER GRANTING SUMMARY JUDGMENT

          Richard P. Matsch, Senior Judge.

         Alliance for Sustainable Energy, LLC (“Alliance”) is the operator of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (“NREL”) in Golden, Colorado. Joseph Carpentier worked as a computer specialist with Alliance from December, 2012, until he was discharged on December 29, 2014, for job abandonment because of his failure to comply with a requirement that he provide a medical clearance from a cardiologist for his return to work after he had been sent home on November 5, 2014, as a result of a perceived medical emergency. He denied that he needed medical assistance and asserted that he was able to work at his job that day.

         On April 24, 2015, Carpentier filed a Charge of Discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) alleging as follows:

I believe that I have been discriminated and retaliated against within the meaning of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 as amended (“ADA”). I have qualifying disabilities within the meaning of the ADA and/or was perceived as having a qualified disability by the Respondent.

(Doc. 14-18).

         On June 18, 2015, Carpentier filed a claim for Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”) disability benefits due to congestive heart failure. He was represented by Benjamin Kennedy of Bachus & Schanker, LLC. The alleged onset date was November 5, 2014.

         On October 10, 2016, Carpentier filed the complaint initiating this civil action represented by Sara A. Green of Bachus & Schanker. The pleading asserts discrimination on the basis of his disability, his perceived disability and as retaliation against him in violation of the ADA.

         The First Claim for Relief alleges that Carpentier had a qualifying disability under the ADA of which Alliance was aware as of October 8, 2014. In the Second Claim for Relief he alleged that defendant perceived him as morbidly obese and suffering from a heart condition and subjected him to disability discrimination, including failing to provide a temporary accommodation. The Third Claim for Relief alleges ADA retaliation.

         After discovery was completed, Alliance filed a motion for summary judgment. A hearing was held on December 21, 2017, at which Ms. Green informed that as of that date Carpentier was on Social Security disability. Counsel for defendant advised that this was not previously known to her.

         As a result this Court ordered that plaintiff's counsel provide the Social Security file. That was submitted with the Plaintiff's Supplement (Doc. 21). The first paragraph under Introduction reads as follows:

         l. INTRODUCTION

This is a claim for damages stemming from Defendant Alliance for Sustainable Energy's (“Alliance”) discrimination towards Joseph Carpentier (“Carpentier”) because of his perceived disability of morbid obesity and his disability of heart disease, and the subsequent retaliation Carpentier experienced, in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, Pub. L. No. 101-336, 104 Stat. 328 (1990) (“ADA”). Because of his morbid obesity and heart issues, Alliance denied him the opportunity of working, retaliated against him, and terminated him because of his actual and perceived disability.

(Doc. 21)

         A hearing on the SSI claim was held on May 9, 2017, at which Carpentier testified. He was represented by Benjamin Kennedy. The Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) issued his written decision on July 19, 2017, finding Carpentier has been disabled since November 5, 2014, because of severe impairments of “congestive heart failure, obesity, and hyperlipidemia.” The ALJ also found an impairment of anxiety disorder which was not severe but was considered in assessing residual functional capacity. The ALJ ...


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