United States District Court, D. Maine
ORDER ON DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY
LEVY U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE
Bell was the manager of O'Reilly Auto Enterprises,
LLC's (“O'Reilly Auto”) store in Belfast,
Maine for approximately one year. Bell has been diagnosed
with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Tourette
Syndrome, and Major Depressive Disorder. To help alleviate
his symptoms, Bell's healthcare provider proposed a
scheduling accommodation in June 2015 that would limit
Bell's work schedule to 45 hours per week, but also
permit him to occasionally work additional unscheduled hours.
In his Amended Complaint, Bell contends that O'Reilly
Auto, in the course of processing and denying his
accommodation request, violated the Americans with
Disabilities Act (the “ADA”), 42 U.S.C.A. §
12101, et seq. (2018) and the Maine Human Rights Act
(the “MHRA”), 5 M.R.S.A. § 4551, et
Bell claims that O'Reilly Auto discriminated against him
based on his disability (Counts I and II); retaliated against
him based on his request for accommodation (Counts III and
IV); and unlawfully failed to accommodate his request for
accommodation (Counts V and VI). See ECF No. 4 at
12. O'Reilly Auto disputes Bell's claims and has
moved for summary judgment on all counts pursuant to Rule 56
of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (ECF No. 37).
address the facts as developed in the summary judgment
record, as well as the summary judgment standards, and then
turn to Bell's contention that O'Reilly Auto (1)
unlawfully failed to accommodate his scheduling request; (2)
discriminated against him; and (3) retaliated against him.
The Store Manager Position
following facts are construed in the light most favorable to
Bell as the non-moving party and any reasonable inferences
have been resolved in his favor. See Whitlock v.
Mac-Gray, Inc., 345 F.3d 44, 45 (1st Cir. 2003). The job
description for the Store Manager position at O'Reilly
Auto states, under the heading “General Summary,
” that a Store Manager is:
Responsible for the sales, profitability, appearance, and
overall operations of the store. Objectives are to show
consistent sales growth, ensure store projects proper
O'Reilly image, operates as a profit center, and follows
policies and procedures to ensure company is operating as
economically and efficiently as possible.
ECF No. 41 at 2 ¶ 6; see also 36-13. With
respect to scheduling, the job description states in relevant
part that the manager is “[r]esponsible for scheduling
the proper amount of help (neither too much, nor too little)
to ensure that customers receive the best service, store
appearance is maintained, and the store is profitable.”
ECF No. 36-13 at 1; see also ECF No. 41 at 3 ¶
10. The job description does not state the required or
expected work hours. ECF No. 43 at 6 ¶ 24; see
also ECF No. 36-13.
applied for a Store Manager position at O'Reilly Auto in
August 2014. ECF No. 41 at 1 ¶ 1. On his application,
Bell represented that he was able to work evenings, weekends,
holidays, and overtime. Id.; see also ECF
No. 36-22 at 3. Bell was told during the interview process
that if he was hired, he would be responsible for the overall
financial and operational health of his store. ECF No. 41 at
6 ¶ 23.
Auto initially hired Bell as a “Store Manager in
Training.” Id. at 1 ¶ 2. From the outset
Bell understood that he was responsible for responding to
unexpected developments in the workplace, which might require
him to work unpredictable and long hours from week-to-week.
Id. at 14 ¶ 36. Bell claims that, in practice,
he was scheduled to work an average of 46 hours per week as a
Bell completed his training in September 2014, he became the
Store Manager at O'Reilly Auto's Belfast store.
Id. at 7 ¶ 25. Early in his tenure, Bell's
immediate supervisor, Division Manager Chris Watters, told
Bell that he was to manage the store as though his name was
on the front door, and used the terms “ownership”
and “owning the business” when discussing
O'Reilly Auto's expectations of a Store Manager.
Id. at 7 ¶¶ 26, 27.
O'Reilly Auto store is its own profit center.
Id. at 38 ¶ 85. Accordingly, employee
compensation across the company is not uniform, and
compensation at each store is determined by a variety of
factors including the overall success of the store and the
employee's experience and tenure. Id. at 38
¶ 86. As the Store Manager at the Belfast store, Bell
was paid 42, 000 dollars annually. ECF No. 43 at 38 ¶
164. It is undisputed that O'Reilly Auto found Bell's
job performance to be satisfactory. ECF No. 43 at 10, 14
¶ 45, 61; see also ECF No. 41-5.
his tenure, Bell clashed with Watters due in part to
Watters' management style, which Bell perceived as being
“authoritarian.” ECF No. 41 at 14 ¶ 37.
Additionally, during the time Bell was working at
O'Reilly Auto, he experienced some-related stress because
his wife wanted to move out of state. Id. at 15
¶ 38; see also ECF No. 36-24 at 44.
The Accommodation Request
took a turn for the worst in May and June 2015. In the two
weeks immediately preceding June 4, Bell worked abnormally
long hours because he was required to fill in for two
employees who had been terminated. ECF No. 4 at ¶ 24;
ECF No. 41 at 15 ¶ 42. Bell alleges, though O'Reilly
Auto disputes, that O'Reilly Auto knew he had previously
been diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder,
Tourette Syndrome, and Major Depressive Disorder. ECF No. 43
at 2 ¶ 8.
end of the two-week period, Bell began experiencing
dizziness, severe headaches, increased frequency of his
pre-existing tics, and fatigue. ECF No. 41 at 16
¶ 45. On June 4, Bell had what O'Reilly Auto
characterizes as (and Bell admits was) a “meltdown,
” during which he experienced a number of new symptoms,
including an inability to concentrate. Id. at 16
¶ 46; see also ECF No. 36-24 at 62-63. The
meltdown was caused, at least in part, by the long hours he
had been working. ECF No. 41 at 16 ¶ 48.
day of the meltdown, Bell sought treatment from his
healthcare provider, Judy Weitzel, a psychiatric nurse
practitioner. Id. at 16 ¶ 49. Weitzel completed
a “Fitness for Duty” (FFD) form, which Bell
subsequently submitted to O'Reilly Auto. Id. at
17 ¶ 50; see also ECF No. 36-2. The FFD is an
O'Reilly Auto form, and it contains a “Note to
Health Care Provider[s]” which explains that the
“form is required by O'Reilly to determine the team
member's (employee's) fitness for job duty, ”
and instructs healthcare providers to “complete the
form and return the form to the patient.” ECF No. 36-2.
Weitzel wrote in Bell's FFD form that because of
“his mental health issues[, Bell] should not be
scheduled for more than 9 hours 5 days a week.”
Id.; see also ECF No. 41 at 17 ¶ 50.
She also indicated that he should not return to work until
June 9, giving Bell a five-day reprieve. ECF No. 36-2;
see also ECF No. 41 at 18 ¶ 54. On the same day
(June 4), Weitzel also wrote a letter on Penobscot Bay
Medical Center letterhead, which stated that Bell was being
treated for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder,
Tourette Syndrome, and Major Depressive Disorder. ECF No.
36-3. The letter went on to explain that “[h]is present
mental health issues are stable with medication, however he
would benefit from having accommodations such as a regular
work week.” Id. The letter also included a
phone number at which Weitzel could be contacted with any
the relevant time period, Watters reported to the Regional
Manager, Nick Thomas. O'Reilly Auto claims that when
Thomas received Weitzel's communications, he believed
that allowing Bell to return to work would constitute a tacit
acceptance of the requested accommodation. ECF No. 41 at 18
¶ 56. Accordingly, Thomas decided that Bell should not
be permitted to return to work until the outcome of the
accommodation request was determined. Id. at 18
Thomas and Watters believed that the accommodation request
proposed in Weitzel's FFD form strictly limited
Bell's work schedule to nine hours per day, five days per
week (a forty-five hour work week). Id. at 18 ¶
57. Watters did not interpret the completed form to suggest
that Bell would be able to occasionally work unscheduled
hours that may exceed nine hours per day, or five days per
week. Id. at 19 ¶ 58.
8, 2015, Watters sent an e-mail to O'Reilly Auto's
leave of absence coordinator in which he expressed his
opinion that the accommodation request was incompatible with
Bell's duties as a store manager. See ECF No. 36-5 at
3-5. When Watters sent the e-mail, he interpreted the FFD
form completed by Weitzel as limiting Bell's weekly work
schedule to nine hours per day, five days per week, without
exception. It is undisputed that Watters misinterpreted the
accommodation request. ECF No. 43 at 25 ¶ 111.
Watters told Bell that he interpreted the FFD form as
limiting Bell's work to nine hours per day, five days per
week, without exception, Bell met with Weitzel again and
asked her to the clarify the form. ECF No. 41 at 26
¶ 72. Weitzel told Bell that she did not need to clarify
the form because she believed that it clearly indicated that
he should be scheduled for a maximum of nine hours per day,
five days per week, but he could be scheduled for more hours
on occasion. Id. at 26 ¶ 73.
e-mail dated July 13, Bell informed Watters and Thomas, among
others, that Weitzel believed he could “work some hours
beyond the scheduled 45 hours on occasion . . . so long as
[his] scheduled hours [were] limited to 45 hours per
week.” ECF No. 36-8; see also ECF No. 41 at 26
¶ 74. Bell went on to write, “I am still hopeful
that O'Reilly Auto Parts will accommodate me by
permitting my return to work at the Belfast store as a store