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Davis v. Allstate Insurance

United States District Court, D. New Jersey, Camden Vicinage

July 11, 2018

ROBIN DAVIS, Plaintiff,
v.
ALLSTATE INSURANCE d/b/a ALLSTATE NEW JERSEY, et al., Defendants.

          STERLING LAW FIRM Yvette C. Sterling, Esq. Counsel for Plaintiff

          COZEN O'CONNOR Debra S. Friedman, Esq. Jason A. Cabrera, Esq. Counsel for Defendants

          OPINION:

          RENÉE MARIE BUMB UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This matter comes before the Court upon the parties' cross-motions for summary judgment in this employment discrimination and retaliation suit. For the reasons set forth below, the Court will grant summary judgment to Defendants on the claims arising under federal law (failure to accommodate and retaliation in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. § 12101 et seq., “ADA”), and will direct the parties to show cause why the Court should not decline to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over the remaining state law claims brought pursuant to the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination, N.J.S.A. § 10:5-1 et seq., “NJ LAD”, and New Jersey common law, and remand this suit to the Superior Court of New Jersey.[1]

         I. Facts and Procedural History

         Plaintiff Robin Davis has been employed with Defendant Allstate Insurance since 1986. (Plaintiff's Response to Defendants' Statement of Undisputed Material Facts, hereafter “Pl's Response to Def's Statement”, ¶ 2) During all relevant times, Davis was (and still is) a Claim Service Leader in Allstate's homeowner department. (Id.) Defendant Jeffrey Dwyer was Davis' supervisor from December 2013 through March 2016. (Id. ¶ 4-6)[2]

         According to Davis, as a result of Dwyer's alleged race, gender, and age discrimination / retaliation, and/or creation of a hostile work environment[3], Davis developed “stress related disorder, adjustment disorder with anxiety and depression.” (Pl's Response to Def's Statement ¶ 73)[4] On February 24, 2014, Davis first wrote to Allstate's Human Resources representative complaining about Dwyer:

         (Image Omitted)

         (Friedman Decl. Ex. L)

         In emails to Human Resources dated March 31, 2014 and April 1, 2014, Davis inquired into the status of her “open complaint” and further stated that “my work environment continues to make me uncomfortable, ” “I feel that I am being targeted by Jeff, ” and “I feel that Jeff's actions towards me are racially motivated.” (Friedman Decl. Ex. M)

         Also on April 1, 2014, Davis began a six-month disability leave of absence from work. (Pl's Response to Def's Statement, ¶ 72) Davis' healthcare provider completed Allstate's “Workplace Assistance Request” form which documented Davis' “medical condition.” (Davis Cert. Ex. 29) The request states that “[Davis] has been struggling with anxiety & depressed mood related to her place of employment since February 2014.” (Id.) It further states that “client's direct supervisor causing [sic] anxiety (severe), ” and that Davis cannot work at all “unless conflict with superior resolved [sic] & client feels safe.” (Id.)

         Approximately two weeks later, Davis' attorney wrote to Allstate, stating, in relevant part, (Image Omitted)

         (Friedman Cert. Ex. T)

         While Davis was still on leave, in a June 24, 2014 email to Allstate, Davis' attorney wrote, in relevant part, “[Davis'] disability was directly caused by [Dwyer's] illegitimate actions under U.S. laws and the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination.” (Friedman Cert. Ex. U) Davis' attorney requested an “accommodation” in the form of “be[ing] relocated to another location.” (Id.)

         In an email dated August 21, 2014, Davis' attorney again wrote to Allstate, “based upon the fact that Ms. Davis has to return to work to environment and a supervisor that causes her emotional anguish due to his maltreatment of her because of her race and color, Ms. Davis is requesting to be removed from that hostile work environment which has been created by her supervisor.” (Friedman Cert. Ex. Q)

         Davis' testimony regarding her accommodation request is unequivocal:

Q: Just so I understand, is the accommodation you were looking for to be moved to a different job?
A: I needed to be not working for Jeff.
Q: Okay. So the accommodation you were looking for was to no longer ...

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