Collins v. School Board of Pinellas County, Florida
ORDER: Defendant School Board of Pinellas County, Florida's Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. # 63) is GRANTED. The Clerk is directed to enter judgment in favor of Defendant School Board of Pinellas County, Florida and against pro se Plaintiff Angela M. Collins on all counts of the complaint. Thereafter, the Clerk is directed to terminate all pending deadlines and CLOSE the case. Signed by Judge Virginia M. Hernandez Covington on 11/19/2020. (DMD)
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UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
MIDDLE DISTRICT OF FLORIDA
ANGELA M. COLLINS,
Case No. 8:19-cv-2145-T-33TGW
SCHOOL BOARD OF PINELLAS
This matter comes before the Court pursuant to Defendant
School Board of Pinellas County, Florida’s Motion for Summary
Judgment (Doc. # 63), filed on October 9, 2020. Pro se
Plaintiff Angela M. Collins responded on November 16, 2020.
(Doc. # 67). For the reasons that follow, the Motion is
Position as Bus Driver and Benefits
substitute bus driver; four months later, she was promoted to
regular bus driver. (Doc. # 64 at 45:18-24; Doc. # 64-1 at
25-26). Collins previously had been employed with the School
Board in food service and student support services. (Doc. #
64-1 at 23-24). She resigned her employment in September 2006
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and later applied and was hired again as a driver in 2007.
(Id. at 30-31). Collins was employed in this position until
her resignation on May 22, 2019. (Doc. # 65-3 at 23). She was
a 9-month employee, working from August until May. (Doc. #
64-4 at 1).
As a bus driver,
was required to have and
maintain a Class B license, to drive with care at all times,
to instruct students in safe riding practices, and to safely
transport students. (Doc. # 64 at 47:1-19, 50:15-17; Doc. #
description (Doc. # 67-2 at 33-35), Collins testified it was
an essential function of the job for a driver to be able to
look left, right, and behind. (Doc. # 64 at
Attendance at work also was an essential function of the job
as this was not a position that could be performed at home.
function of the job to be able to reach and grasp objects; to
have manual dexterity or fine motor skills; to work in an
temperature, noise levels, or other conditions; to operate a
vehicle; and to lift and carry objects up to 50 pounds. (Id.
at 47:20-48:4; Doc. # 64-1 at 27-29).
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The School Board has a policy providing twelve weeks of
unpaid leave when the employee is unable to perform his or
condition under the FMLA. (Doc. # 64-3 at 5-12). This policy
requires any accrued paid leave to run concurrently. (Id. at
8). Additionally, any employee who takes leave for this reason
specifically addresses the staff member’s ability to perform
the essential functions of his/her job” before returning to
work. (Id. at 11). During the period of leave under this
policy, the employee does not accrue leave or any other
The School Board also has an employee benefits policy.
(Doc. # 64-3 at 1-4). This policy provides that, while an
“required to pay the entire cost of all insurance plans.”
(Id. at 3).
The School Board’s leave of absence policy provides that
it may grant a leave of absence “for a specific period of
expiration of leave.” (Id. at 13). It also has a policy
providing a paid leave of absence of up to ten days for any
work-related injury or illness during the year in which the
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illness or injury occurred. (Id. at 14). An employee may use
accrued sick leave when the employee is unable to perform his
or her job duties. (Id. at 17).
Collins was a member of the bargaining unit represented
by SEIU. (Doc. # 64 at 83:17-19, 93:7-10). SEIU and the School
Board entered into a collective bargaining agreement (CBA)
that governed Collins’ employment. (Doc. # 64-3 at 20-77).
This CBA provided that an extended, unpaid leave of absence
may be granted for health or other reasons, but that leave
shall not exceed 30 days. (Id. at 45). However, this is not
a job-protected leave. (Id. at 46). Upon return from leave,
the employee will be placed in the same position if there is
a vacancy available. (Id.).
Collins was granted all of the leave provided under the
School Board’s policies and the CBA with the union. (Doc. #
65-3 at 53; Doc. # 64 at 97:19-22, 98:21-23).
Earlier Accidents and Performance Reviews
On January 15, 2010, eight years before the accident at
issue in this case, Collins reported that she experienced a
compensation. (Doc. # 64 at 102:9-12, 103:2-8; Doc. # 64-4 at
2). As a result of this accident, Collins requested and was
granted leave from work. (Doc. # 64 at 107:16-22; Doc. # 644
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4 at 10). Ultimately, by March 25, 2010, she was released
from care at maximum medical improvement with a zero percent
impairment rating. (Doc. # 64 at 112:8-14; Doc. # 64-4 at
The School Board reviews every accident involving a bus
driver. (Doc. # 64 at 109:5-8). If the driver is found at
fault or the accident was preventable, then it assesses
points, which may result in disciplinary action. (Id. at
compensation benefits, the School Board concluded that she
was not at fault for this accident in 2010 and she was not
disciplined. (Doc. # 64 at 109:13-19; Doc. # 64-4 at 11).
Collins was also not disciplined for any other accidents that
occurred thereafter. (Doc. # 64-4 at 15).
On March 15, 2010, two months after she reported her
first work-related injury, Collins received a mostly positive
performance evaluation. (Doc. # 64 at 110:18-111:1; Doc. #
64-4 at 12). Thereafter, she continued to receive positive
performance evaluations in 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016,
2017, and 2018. (Doc. # 64-4 at 19-20, 23-27; Doc. # 64 at
117:7-118:2, 120:3-122:8). She also received a commendation
for her performance on March 6, 2014. (Doc. # 64-4 at 21).
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During the first week of April 2018, Collins reported to
a supervisor, Area Manager Felicia Salters, “about harassment
and bullying at the time clock by supervisor Karen Upchurch
and co-workers.” (Doc. # 67-6 at 3). “Salters moved the time
clock a week later.” (Id.).
C. April 2018 Accident and Subsequent Claim
On April 19, 2018, Collins was involved in accident where
a fire truck hit the driver’s side of her bus while she was
stationary at a red light. (Doc. # 64 at 122:16-19; Doc. #
64-4 at 45). The following morning, Collins reported the
accident to her supervisor. (Doc. # 64 at 126:11-127:5).
After reporting this injury and making the workers’
compensation claim, Collins was treated by Dr. Johnson, a
doctor provided by the workers’ compensation carrier, the
same day that she reported the injury. (Doc. # 64-4 at 2931). He treated her for a neck sprain following a motor
limitations. (Id.). By May 3, 2018, Dr. Johnson found that
Collins had reached maximum medical improvement with a zero
percent impairment rating and no functional limitations. (Id.
Despite having knowledge of Collins’ claim for workers’
compensation benefits, the School Board concluded that the
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accident on April 19th was not preventable and she was not
disciplined in any way related to this accident. (Id. at 44;
Doc. # 64 at 136:17-21).
Around this time, Salters “threatened to send [Collins]
to the Office of Professional Standards for stealing time a
because Salters “said no one could work that much overtime in
two weeks.” (Doc. # 67-6 at 5).
Later, in August 2018 when the new school year started,
Collins’s “seniority to bid on a newer bus was taken away”
and “[a] week later her bus was dead lined.” (Id. at 6). As
a result, Collins drove “faulty buses and did not have a
permanent bus from August 2018 through November 16, 2018.”
(Id.). She “continue[d] to have serious unsafe, hazardous
mechanical problems with her buses, electrical wiring, lifts
falling out, [a] bus catching on fire, [and a] serious gas
leak with students aboard.” (Id. at 7). Despite her complaints
about the faulty buses, “[n]o investigations, nothing was
ever done about it.” (Id.).
D. Multiple Leaves of Absence
Collins did not seek any leave related to the April 19,
2018, injury until November 29, 2018. (Doc. # 64 at 145:8146:1; Doc. # 64-4 at 47). On November 29, 2018, she made a
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request for an initial leave of absence. (Doc. # 64-4 at 47;
Doc. # 64 at 144:12-14, 145:13-15). She reported that this
leave would be a short-term leave of 30 days or less. (Doc.
# 64-4 at 47). The reason provided for this leave was “sick
due to injury to neck.” (Id.).
Her leave request was approved the next day by her
supervisor and two days later by Human Resources and the
School Board. (Id.). Her initial leave request was approved
through December 24, 2018, but it was later extended through
February 28, 2019. (Id.).
On November 30, 2018, Collins’ doctor certified that
that she was unable to work because she could not drive a
bus. (Doc. # 64-5 at 1-4). Her doctor recommended a leave of
absence through December 24, 2018, and then Collins would
attempt to return to work. (Id. at 3). Her doctor also noted
that she may need a leave of absence of three months in order
to obtain surgery. (Id.).
Collins was granted a three month leave of absence, but
she never attempted to return to work. (Doc. # 64 at 145:24146:1).
certification, she testified in her deposition she could have
performed the essential functions of the job at the time of
this leave. (Id. at 146:13-15, 209:15-25). Specifically, when
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asked if she was “able to perform the essential functions of
[her] job” between November 27, 2018, and February 28, 2019,
Collins responded “Yes.” (Id. at 146:10-15).
In February 2019, Collins reported to her doctor that
she had weakness and limited mobility in her left arm and
that she could not use her arm often. (Doc. # 64-5 at 7-8).
She testified that this mobility in her left arm did not
impact her ability to perform her job functions. (Doc. # 64
at 161:5-11). Yet, she did not return to work. (Id. at 162:25163:6).
While Collins was on a leave of absence, and after it
had knowledge of her April 2018 workers’ compensation claim,
the School Board evaluated her performance on February 14,
2019, and gave her a positive performance evaluation. (Doc.
# 64-5 at 9; Doc. # 64 at 163:14-19).
compensation carrier, treated Collins on February 18, 2019.
(Doc. # 64-5 at 10-12). Dr. Ramos concluded that Collins had
impairment rating and no functional limitations. (Id. at 1015).
After receiving three months of leave and exhausting her
leave under the FMLA, Collins sought a second leave of absence
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on March 5, 2019, in order to continue her leave from work.
(Id. at 17). In this request, she sought leave from March 1,
2019, until April 8, 2019. (Id.). This leave request was
granted the next day. (Id.).
To support this leave request, Collins provided a note
from Dr. Wall indicating that she was unable to work as of
reevaluation in 30 days. (Doc. # 64-5 at 16). He informed
Collins the same day that “she is going to require surgery.”
(Doc. # 65-1 at 2).
Collins sought an evaluation with Dr. Bono at BioSpine
for surgery on March 4, 2019. (Doc. # 64-5 at 18-28). In this
evaluation, she noted that she was experiencing weakness in
her left arm, having difficulty walking, and experiencing
numbness in her extremities. (Id.; Doc. # 65-1 at 9). Dr.
Bono recommended surgical intervention. (Doc. # 64-5 at 27).
restrict or impair her ability to drive
testified that she was able to perform the essential functions
of the job at this time. (Doc. # 64 at 146:10-22, 162:15-24;
Doc. # 64-5 at 28).
Nonetheless, on April 1, 2019, Collins scheduled surgery
on her neck for April 10, 2019. (Doc. # 64-6 at 1-2; Doc. #
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65 at 281:13-15). That same day, Dr. Bono wrote a note where
he indicated that Collins “will be having a cervical disc
replacement on 4/10/2019” and asked for her to be excused
“from work/school from 4/10/2019 to 5/22/2019 and following
date will be determined at post op appointment.” (Doc. # 642 at 37).
On April 3, 2019, Collins made a third request for a
leave of absence. (Doc. # 64 at 180:17-20; Doc. # 64-6 at 3).
She requested leave from April 9, 2019, until May 22, 2019,
which was a continuation of the leave of absence that was to
expire on April 8, 2019. (Doc. # 64-6 at 3). She explained
that the reason for the leave of absence was “surgery.” (Id.;
Doc. # 64 at 181:3-9).
This request was granted the same day that Collins
requested it, and the School Board indicated that her position
would be held until May 22, 2019. (Doc. # 64-6 at 3; Doc. #
64 at 181:10-12).
Despite Collins’ representation that she needed this
leave of absence for surgery, she cancelled the surgery
scheduled for April 10, 2019. (Doc. # 65-1 at 31). Although
Aemisegger, asserted that Collins had not told HR about the
cancelled surgery (Doc. # 64-6 at 29), Collins averred in her
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affidavit that she told an HR assistant that the surgery was
cancelled. (Doc. # 67-6 at 17). Collins did not return to
work even though she testified that she could have performed
her job functions at that time. (Doc. # 64-6 at 29; Doc. # 64
at 146:10-22, 162:15-163:6).
The last time that Collins saw Dr. Bono was on April 1,
2019, and she did not thereafter reschedule the surgery. (Doc.
# 64 at 37:11-19; Doc. # 65 at 281:9-21, 317:22-24; Doc. #
65-1 at 32; Doc. # 64-2 at 27). No other doctor recommended
surgery for Collins or opined that she needed a leave of
absence for surgery. (Doc. # 65 at 317:25-318:2).
Collins again sought treatment from Dr. Ramos beginning
on April 8, 2019. (Doc. # 64-6 at 5-7). Dr. Ramos treated her
for a cervical strain, but he opined that it was undetermined
whether this strain was work-related. (Id.). He concluded
that she had no functional limitations. (Id.). While Dr. Ramos
recorded that Collins “has significant difficulties with the
physical requirements of her job” and she has a limited range
of motion, Collins testified in her deposition that she could
have performed her job duties at this time. (Id. at 8-11;
Doc. # 64 at 146:10-22, 162:15-24, 209:15-25).
By April 29, 2019, Dr. Ramos concluded that no further
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medical improvement with a zero percent impairment rating and
no functional limitations, and that it was undetermined as to
whether her injury was work-related. (Doc. # 64-6 at 23-24).
She was discharged from care. (Id. at 26-28).
Yet, according to Collins, she has “a Cervical Herniated
Disc in her neck and needs surgery to correct.” (Doc. # 64-2
at 13). Still, she failed to identify in her answers to
interrogatories a major life activity that is substantially
limited by her condition, merely stating that the herniated
disc “makes it hard to do manual labor” and “substantially
limit[s] [her] performing a major life activity as compared
to most people in the general population.” (Id. at 14). At
most, in her amended answers to the School Board’s requests
for production, Collins stated: “Neck pain, limited mobility
makes it hard to do manual labor compared to most people in
concentration, sleep, scientific evidence (MRI) Cervical disc
herniation.” (Doc. # 67-4 at 60).
Collins contends that, on April 29, 2019, she did not
have use of her neck, shoulder, arm, and hand and also had
Nonetheless, she testified in her deposition that, at this
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time, she was able to perform her job functions. (Doc. # 64
at 146:10-22, 162:15-24).
E. Plaintiff’s Fourth Request for a Leave of Absence
On May 14, 2019, Collins made a fourth request for a
leave of absence. (Doc. # 64-6 at 29; Doc. # 64 at 190:8-10).
In this request, she requested a five-day leave of absence,
from May 23, 2019, to May 28, 2019. (Doc. # 64-6 at 29).
On May 14, 2019, Collins informed the School Board, for
the first time, that her surgery did not occur on April 10,
2019. (Id.). HR Director Aemisegger explained that Collins’
third request for a leave of absence was granted based on Dr.
Bono’s opinion that she would need to be excused from work
due to the surgery and that she should have informed the
School Board if the reason for leave no longer existed. (Id.).
With respect to Collins’ fourth request for a leave of
absence, the School Board denied this request, explaining
that she had “exhausted any further leaves” of absence. (Id.).
However, it gave Collins two choices: (1) return to work on
May 23, 2019, with a doctor’s note indicating that she was
fit for duty or (2) resign her position and reapply when she
is able to return to work. (Id.).
Collins contends that she needed this five-day leave of
absence to have surgery. (Doc. # 65 at 350:8-16). However, at
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the time she requested this fourth leave of absence, she did
not have surgery scheduled. (Id. at 241:5-7; Doc. # 64 at
37:11-19). She admits that she was not going to have surgery
during the five-day leave of absence. (Doc. # 64 at 78:1-6).
Instead, she contends that she wanted the leave to take her
to the end of the school year and then she could have the
surgery “over the summer.” (Doc. # 65 at 240:14-17, 350:1112). Collins admits that this surgery was never scheduled
“over the summer.” (Id. at 241:5-7; Doc. # 64-2 at 27).
Collins would not have returned to work on May 29, 2019,
even if this leave had been granted, because that was the
last day of school. (Doc. # 64 at 191:6-11). She intended to
come back to work in “August, the new school year.” (Id.).
F. Plaintiff’s Resignation
Despite the fact that Collins contends she could have
performed her job functions as of May 23, 2019, she did not
return to work. (Doc. # 64 at 162:15-24, 209:15-25; Doc. # 65
at 332:9-12). While Collins never went to a doctor to obtain
a fitness-for-duty note, Dr. Ramos had certified on April 29,
2019, that she had no functional limitations and could have
returned to work. (Doc. # 65 at 392:1-3; Doc. # 64-6 at 2324).
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On May 22, 2019, Collins resigned her employment and has
not applied for any vacancy since her resignation. (Doc. #
65-3 at 23; Doc. # 65 at 470:20-471:4). The School Board
informed Collins that her health insurance benefits would
continue through May 31, 2019. (Doc. # 64-2 at 4). She,
however, did not have the surgery during this period of time.
(Doc. # 64 at 37:11-16; Doc. # 65 at 241:5-7). In addition,
after her resignation, she elected to continue her health
benefits through COBRA coverage. (Doc. # 64-6 at 37).
Opportunity that she was able and available for work from May
26, 2019, through June 1, 2019, which included part of the
five-day leave of absence sought from Defendant. (Id. at 32).
Christopher Lee, another doctor provided by the workers’
compensation carrier. (Id. at 38-39). Dr. Lee opined that
Collins’ injury was not work-related and she achieved maximum
medical improvement with a zero percent impairment rating and
no functional limitations. (Id.). Dr. Lee opined that no
further clinical services were needed, and her work status
was full duty. (Id. at 38-39, 45).
On September 13, 2019, Collins created an account with
the Social Security Administration and applied for disability
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benefits related to her neck injury. (Doc. # 65-3 at 1-2;
346:4-6). As part of her application, the Social Security
Administration sought records from the medical providers who
treated Collins related to her neck injury. (Doc. # 65-3 at
3-6). Collins refused to provide any explanation for her
request for social security disability benefits during her
deposition. (Doc. # 65 at 335:18-22, 336:9-24).
permitted to stay on medical leave longer than she was. (Doc.
# 67-6 at 24-26). For example, bus driver Stephanie Hayes
also had a cervical disc injury and had the same cervical
disc replacement surgery Collins maintains she needed. (Id.
at 24). Hayes was out “on unpaid medical leave” with “no
accrued sick leave” from January 2018 through July 5, 2018,
at which point she returned to work with the School Board.
(Id.). She worked for the School Board until her retirement
in 2020. (Id.).
Collins initiated this action against the School Board
accommodate under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
discrimination under the Florida Civil Rights Act (FCRA)
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retaliation under Florida Statute § 440.205 (Count III).
(Doc. # 1). The School Board filed its answer on October 22,
2019. (Doc. # 14). The case then proceeded through discovery.
The School Board moved for summary judgment on October
9, 2020. (Doc. # 63). Collins has responded (Doc. # 67), and
the Motion is ripe for review.
Summary judgment is appropriate “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.”
R. Civ. P. 56(a). A factual dispute alone is not enough to
defeat a properly pled motion for summary judgment; only the
existence of a genuine issue of material fact will preclude
a grant of summary judgment. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc.,
477 U.S. 242, 247-48 (1986).
An issue is genuine if the evidence is such that a
reasonable jury could return a verdict for the non-moving
party. Mize v. Jefferson City Bd. of Educ., 93 F.3d 739, 742
(11th Cir. 1996)(citing Hairston v. Gainesville Sun Publ’g
Co., 9 F.3d 913, 918 (11th Cir. 1993)). A fact is material if
it may affect the outcome of the suit under the governing
law. Allen v. Tyson Foods, Inc., 121 F.3d 642, 646 (11th Cir.
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1997). The moving party bears the initial burden of showing
the court, by reference to materials on file, that there are
no genuine issues of material fact that should be decided at
trial. Hickson Corp. v. N. Crossarm Co., 357 F.3d 1256, 1260
(11th Cir. 2004)(citing Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S.
317, 323 (1986)). “When a moving party has discharged its
pleadings,’ and by its own affidavits, or by ‘depositions,
designate specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue
for trial.” Jeffery v. Sarasota White Sox, Inc., 64 F.3d 590,
593-94 (11th Cir. 1995)(quoting Celotex, 477 U.S. at 324).
If there is a conflict between the parties’ allegations
or evidence, the non-moving party’s evidence is presumed to
be true and all reasonable inferences must be drawn in the
non-moving party’s favor. Shotz v. City of Plantation, 344
F.3d 1161, 1164 (11th Cir. 2003). If a reasonable fact finder
evaluating the evidence could draw more than one inference
from the facts, and if that inference introduces a genuine
issue of material fact, the court should not grant summary
judgment. Samples ex rel. Samples v. City of Atlanta, 846
F.2d 1328, 1330 (11th Cir. 1988). But, if the non-movant’s
response consists of nothing “more than a repetition of his
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proper, but required. Morris v. Ross, 663 F.2d 1032, 1034
(11th Cir. 1981).
A. Failure to Accommodate and Disability Discrimination
In her complaint, Collins asserts claims for failure to
accommodate under the ADA (Count I) and failure to accommodate
and disability discrimination under the FCRA (Count II).
(Doc. # 1 at 5-8). “Given the parallel structure of the
discrimination claims under the FCRA using the same framework
as it does for claims made under the federal” ADA. D’Onofrio
v. Costco Wholesale Corp., 964 F.3d 1014, 1021 (11th Cir.
In order to succeed on a discrimination claim, Collins
must show that: “(1) [s]he is disabled; (2) [s]he was a
qualified individual at the relevant time, meaning [s]he
could perform the essential functions of the job in question
with or without reasonable accommodations; and (3) [s]he was
discriminated against  because of [her] disability.” Scott
v. Shoe Show, Inc., 38 F. Supp. 3d 1343, 1359 (N.D. Ga.
2014)(citation omitted). To prove a failure to accommodate,
Collins must show that “(1) she was a qualified individual
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with a disability; (2) she made a specific request for a
reasonable accommodation; and (3) her employer, [the School
Board], failed to provide a reasonable accommodation, or
engage in the requisite interactive process in order to
identify a reasonable accommodation.” D’Onofrio, 964 F.3d at
substantially limits one or more major life activities of
such individual; (B) a record of such an impairment; or (C)
being regarded as having such an impairment.” 42 U.S.C. §
“substantially limits” shall be construed broadly in favor of
expansive coverage, to the maximum extent permitted by the
terms of the ADA.’” Vaughan v. World Changers Church Int’l,
Inc., No. 1:13-CV-0746-AT, 2014 WL 4978439, at *8–9 (N.D. Ga.
Sept. 16, 2014)(quoting 29 C.F.R. § 1630.2(j)(1)(i)). “Under
impairment ‘substantially limits the ability of an individual
to perform a major life activity as compared to most people
1630.2(j)(ii)). Nevertheless, Collins bears the burden of
establishing that her impairment substantially limited a
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major life activity. See Hunter v. U.S. Postal Serv., 535 F.
App’x 869, 872 (11th Cir. 2013)(“Hunter bears the burden of
“offering evidence that the extent of the limitation” caused
by the impairment is substantial.” (citation omitted)).
Collins’s claims fail because she is not disabled. In
her sworn answers to interrogatories, Collins stated that she
has “a Cervical Herniated Disc in her neck and needs surgery
to correct.” (Doc. # 64-2 at 13). Yet, in these same answers
to interrogatories, she failed to identify a major life
besides stating that the herniated disc “makes it hard to do
manual labor” and “substantially limit[s] [her] performing a
major life activity as compared to most people in the general
population.” (Id. at 14).
requests for production liberally, Collins has asserted that
her neck injury limited the major life activities of “manual
labor,” “thinking, concentration, [and] sleep.” (Doc. # 67-4
impairments are insufficient. See Hunter, 535 F. App’x at
872–73 (“She contends, with no evidentiary support, that she
has substantial impairments in sleeping, manual tasks, and
her general quality of life, including her ability to garden
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and care for her grandchildren. These amorphous, unsupported
assertions, however, are exactly the kind we have dismissed
as insufficient in similar cases.”).
Furthermore, she also stated that she “can perform all
the essential functions of a school bus driver” “without a[n]
accommodation,” (Doc. # 64-2 at 15-16), which she reaffirmed
in her deposition testimony. (Doc. # 64 at 146:10-15, 161:513, 162:15-24). Finally, Dr. Ramos concluded by April 29,
2019 — before Collins’ fourth request for a leave of absence
on May 14, 2019 — that Collins had no functional limitations,
had a zero percent impairment rating, required no further
clinical services, and was discharged from care. (Doc. # 646 at 23-28). Given this, there is no genuine issue of material
fact regarding whether Collins is disabled. See Brewer v.
Sears, Roebuck & Co., 315 F. Supp. 2d 295, 298 (W.D.N.Y.
2004)(“Plaintiff has failed to establish the first element
that he is disabled within the meaning of the ADA. . . .
Although he had a herniated disk in his back, the evidence
showed that it had healed and that his doctor cleared him to
return to work without any restrictions.”).
accommodate claim would still fail. “[T]here are limits to
the accommodations an employer must provide. The key is
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accommodate an employee in any manner that the employee
employee does not require an accommodation to perform her
obligation to make an accommodation, even if the employee
requests an accommodation that is reasonable and could be
easily provided.” Id. “[E]ven if an employer has voluntarily
provided accommodations to the employee historically, that
employer is not obligated to continue providing them and can
discontinue such when they exceed what is legally required
under the ADA.” Id.
Here, Collins admitted that she could perform all the
essential functions of her job without an accommodation.
(Doc. # 64-2 at 16). And, even if Collins did require an
accommodation, her request for an additional five-day leave
of absence was not reasonable. The School Board had already
provided Collins months of leave, including granting her
third leave request based on her scheduled surgery in April
2019. After cancelling the surgery, Collins requested yet
another leave of absence in order to have the surgery; yet,
Collins did not have the surgery rescheduled during that five24
Case 8:19-cv-02145-VMC-TGW Document 68 Filed 11/19/20 Page 25 of 31 PageID 1788
day period or for any time after that period. (Doc. # 64 at
37:11-19; Doc. # 65 at 281:9-21, 317:22-24; Doc. # 65-1 at
rescheduled, Collins’s request for yet another medical leave
of absence based on the need for surgery was unreasonable as
a matter of law.
Finally, even if she were disabled, Collins’s disparate
treatment disability discrimination claim would still fail
because she did not suffer an adverse employment action. Here,
because Collins resigned (Doc. # 65-3 at 23), the potential
constructive discharge occurs when a discriminatory employer
imposes working conditions that are ‘so intolerable that a
reasonable person in [the employee’s] position would have
been compelled to resign.’” Fitz v. Pugmire Lincoln-Mercury,
Inc., 348 F.3d 974, 977 (11th Cir. 2003)(citation omitted).
This is a high standard and “[o]ne’s working environment does
not become objectively intolerable simply because it becomes
less attractive.” Hipp v. Liberty Nat’l Life Ins. Co., 252
F.3d 1208, 1231-1235 (11th Cir. 2001).
“Establishing a constructive discharge claim is a more
onerous task than establishing a hostile work environment
claim.” Bryant, 575 F.3d at 1298. Thus, necessarily, the
Case 8:19-cv-02145-VMC-TGW Document 68 Filed 11/19/20 Page 26 of 31 PageID 1789
conduct complained of must be “extreme [enough] to amount to
a change in the terms and conditions of employment.” Faragher
v. City of Boca Raton, 524 U.S. 775, 788 (1998). “‘[S]imple
teasing,’ offhand comments, and isolated incidents (unless
extremely serious) will not amount to discriminatory changes
in the ‘terms and conditions of employment.’” Id. (citation
omitted). Constructive discharge cannot be established by the
“the ordinary tribulations of the workplace, such as the
sporadic use of abusive language.” Id. (citation omitted).
The Court agrees with the School Board that the actions
constructive discharge. (Doc. # 63 at 20-22). At the time of
her resignation in May 2019, Collins had been on a continuous
leave of absence since November 27, 2019, and thus had not
conditions for around six months. While Collins outlines
affidavit and unpleasant working conditions in the form of
“faulty buses” (Doc. # 67-6 at 3-11), these conditions were
not objectively intolerable and almost entirely preceded her
leave that began in November 2019. Additionally, the School
Board gave her the option to come back to work at the end of
her leave of absence. See Coppinger v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.,
Case 8:19-cv-02145-VMC-TGW Document 68 Filed 11/19/20 Page 27 of 31 PageID 1790
No. 3:07CV458/MCR/MD, 2009 WL 3163211, at *10 (N.D. Fla. Sept.
30, 2009)(“[I]t would defy common sense to conclude that an
employer who invites an employee back to work and encourages
him to apply for a position higher than his current job is
deliberately acting to make the employee’s work conditions
intolerable.”). These facts are insufficient to establish a
favorably. Collins has only identified co-workers who were
continued their employment with the School Board. (Doc. # 674 at 56-57).
Therefore, summary judgment is granted in favor of the
School Board on Counts I and II.
B. Worker’s Compensation Retaliation
In Count III of the complaint, Collins asserts a claim
for worker’s compensation retaliation under Florida Statute
§ 440. 205. (Doc. # 1 at 8). Section 440. 205 provides that:
employee’s valid claim for compensation or attempt to claim
Case 8:19-cv-02145-VMC-TGW Document 68 Filed 11/19/20 Page 28 of 31 PageID 1791
compensation under the Workers’ Compensation Law.” Fla. Stat.
“A [Section] 440.205 claim has the same elements as
employment retaliation claims under federal law: (1) the
employee engaged in statutorily protected activity, (2) was
subjected to an adverse employment action, and (3) there was
a causal relationship between the protected activity and the
adverse employment action.” Juback v. Michaels Stores, Inc.,
143 F. Supp. 3d 1195, 1203 (M.D. Fla. 2015). “Such claims are
subject to the burden-shifting framework set out in McDonnell
Douglas Corporation v. Green, 411 U.S. 792  (1973), under
which the plaintiff must come forward with a prima facie
“The burden then shifts to the defendant to
demonstrate that the defendant’s reason was pretextual.” Id.
This claim fails for multiple reasons. First, Collins
has not shown that she was subjected to a materially adverse
employment action. The only adverse action Collins identifies
in her response is the School Board’s denial of her final
request to extend her leave of absence by five days, after
she had already been on leave for nearly six months. (Doc. #
67 at 18). In denying the request, the School Board gave
Case 8:19-cv-02145-VMC-TGW Document 68 Filed 11/19/20 Page 29 of 31 PageID 1792
Collins the option to return to work, but Collins resigned
instead. No reasonable jury could find that the School Board’s
action in denying another extension of Collins’s leave was
the type that could dissuade a reasonable worker from making
a workers’ compensation claim in the first place. See Juback,
143 F. Supp. 3d at 1206 (“To demonstrate that a challenged
employment action was ‘materially adverse,’ a plaintiff must
show ‘it well might have dissuaded a reasonable worker from
[engaging in protected activity].’” (citation omitted)).
Second, Collins has not shown causation. She made her
request for worker’s compensation in April 2018 and went out
on medical leave in November 2018, but did not resign until
May 2019 when her leave was over. See Billups v. Emerald Coast
Utils. Auth., 714 F. App’x 929, 937 (11th Cir. 2017)(“[T]he
sufficiently close to establish a causal connection.”); see
also Pericich v. Climatrol, Inc., 523 So. 2d 684, 686 (Fla.
3d DCA 1988)(stating there was no evidence of retaliation
where the defendant “continued to employ [plaintiff] for over
a year after he filed his compensation claim” and terminated
him only “when it became apparent [he] would be physically
unable to resume his former position”). The “faulty buses”
Case 8:19-cv-02145-VMC-TGW Document 68 Filed 11/19/20 Page 30 of 31 PageID 1793
Collins had to drive before she went out on medical leave and
her unpleasant interactions with Salters in April 2018 are
not sufficient to show causation, given Collins was granted
nearly six months of medical leave for her injury after those
Even if Collins had established a prima facie case of
retaliation, the School Board has produced a legitimate nonretaliatory reason for its actions — specifically, Collins’s
“failure to return to work.” (Doc. # 63 at 23). And Collins
has not presented sufficient evidence to establish a genuine
fellow employees who also filed worker’s compensation claims
were allowed to stay out on leave longer than Collins (Doc.
# 67-6 at 24-26), this does not support that Collins was
retaliated against for filing a worker’s compensation claim.
Furthermore, Collins was not disciplined for the accident
that led to her worker’s compensation claim and was granted
three requests for leave. (Doc. # 64-4 at 44; Doc. # 64 at
There is no genuine issue of material fact regarding
summary judgment is granted in favor of the School Board on
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Accordingly, it is now
ORDERED, ADJUDGED, and DECREED:
Defendant School Board of Pinellas County, Florida’s
Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. # 63) is GRANTED.
The Clerk is directed to enter judgment in favor of
Defendant School Board of Pinellas County, Florida and
against pro se Plaintiff Angela M. Collins on all counts
of the complaint.
pending deadlines and CLOSE the case.
DONE and ORDERED in Chambers in Tampa, Florida, this
19th day of November, 2020.
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