Stewart v. City of Minneapolis
ORDER denying 21 Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings (Written Opinion) Signed by Senior Judge David S. Doty on 8/21/2017. (DLO)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF MINNESOTA
Civil No. 17-226(DSD/TNL)
City of Minneapolis,
Brian T. Rochel, Esq., Douglas L. Micko, Esq. and Teske,
Micko, Katz, Kitzer & Rochel, PLLP, 222 South Ninth Street,
Suite 4050, Minneapolis, MN 55402, counsel for plaintiff.
Ivan M. Ludmer, Esq., Gregory P. Sautter, Esq., Office of the
City Attorney, 350 South Fifth Street, City Hall, Room 210,
Minneapolis, MN 55415, counsel for defendant.
This matter is before the court upon the motion for judgment
on the pleadings by defendant City of Minneapolis.
Based on a
review of the file, record, and proceedings herein, and for the
following reasons, the court denies the motion for judgment on the
pleadings, but orders plaintiff Laurence Stewart to join the
International Union of Operating Engineers Local #49 (Union) as a
defendant in this action.
This employment action arises out of the City’s termination of
thereafter, he became an automotive mechanic.
October 2009, Stewart was injured on the job.
Id. ¶ 23.
Id. ¶ 24.
cleared by his doctor to return to work the following year.
The City has a three-phase return-to-work policy for employees
returning from injuries (Policy), which is part of its collective
bargaining agreement with the Union (CBA).
Ex. 1, Attachment C.
Id. ¶ 6; Ludmer Decl.
Under the first phase of the Policy, once an
employee is cleared by a doctor to return to work, the City has
thirty days in which to place him into a temporary or “light duty”
position that conforms to his physical restrictions.
Compl. ¶ 8.
After thirty days, the employee moves into the second phase during
which he continues with “light duty” as appropriate.
Id. ¶ 9.
the employee’s injuries are ultimately deemed permanent or the
employee reaches “maximum medical improvement” as defined by the
workers’ compensation system, the employee transitions to the third
phase of the Policy, which is referred to as the “Job Bank
Id. ¶¶ 11, 12.
The CBA established the general
provisions of the Job Bank Program. Ludmer Decl. Ex. 1, Attachment
C, at 2-5.
Employees are permitted to participate in the Job Bank
Program for 120 days during which time they can apply, with
coaching and placement assistance, for open positions with the
Id. at 2; Compl. ¶¶ 12, 14.
If the employee has not found
alternative employment with the City within the 120-day period, the
City automatically terminates his employment.
Compl. ¶ 16; Ludmer
Decl. Ex. 1, Attachment C, at 5.
Stewart returned to work under the first phase of the Policy
restrictions precluded him from working as a mechanic, he worked as
an office support specialist.
Id. ¶¶ 24-25.
On May 6, 2013, the
City determined that Stewart was permanently disabled and thus
eligible to participate in the Job Bank Program.
Id. ¶ 28.
in the Job Bank Program, Stewart applied and interviewed for
several positions, but he did not receive a job offer during the
Id. ¶ 30.
consistent with the Policy.
On October 9, 2013, he was terminated
Id. ¶ 31.
On January 4, 2017, Stewart filed this putative class action
under the Minnesota Human Rights Act (MHRA) and the Americans with
Disabilities Act (ADA) in Hennepin County.1
alleges that the Policy violates the MHRA and ADA by precluding the
City from engaging in an “interactive process to assess possible
employees after 120 days “without any inquiry or assessment of
accommodating an employee’s disability.”
Id. ¶ 45; see also id. ¶
Stewart seeks damages as well as injunctive relief enjoining
Stewart alleges that he exhausted his
remedies before filing this suit. Compl. ¶ 32.
directing [the City] to amend its Policy to be in compliance with
state and federal laws.”
Compl. at 10.
The City timely removed to
Stewart’s failure to join the Union as a required party.
The City argues that the Union is a required party pursuant to
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 19(a)(1) and that this case should
be dismissed if Stewart persists in his refusal to join the Union.
The court agrees that the Union is a required party to this action,
but disagrees that dismissal is an appropriate remedy at this
Joinder of any person subject to service of process whose
presence will not destroy a court’s subject-matter jurisdiction is
(A) in that person’s absence, the court cannot
accord complete relief among existing parties; or
(B) that person claims an interest relating to
the subject of the action and is so situated
that disposing of the action in the person’s
(i) as a practical matter impair or
impede the person’s ability to protect
the interest; or
(ii) leave an existing party subject to a
substantial risk of incurring double,
The sole basis for the Rule 12(c) motion is that Stewart
has failed to join the Union as a necessary party.
obligations because of the interest.
Fed. R. Civ. P. 19(a)(1).3
Stewart alleges the City has failed to do certain things to
accommodate disabled employees as required by the MHRA and ADA.
Despite arguing that he is challenging the City’s implementation of
the Policy rather than the Policy itself, the complaint establishes
Under the Policy, the City does not assess whether an
employee could perform the essential functions of their
pre-injury job with reasonable accommodation, as required
by the MHRA and ADA. Compl. ¶ 13.
The Policy does not provide for an interactive process
allowing the City to conduct an assessment regarding
potential reasonable accommodation(s) for disabled
employees. Id. ¶ 17.
The Policy provides that under no circumstances may an
employee remain in the Job Bank for more than 120 days.
Id. ¶ 19.
The Policy does not provide for any individualized
assessment regarding a specific employee’s need to remain
in the Job Bank for longer than 120 days. Id. ¶ 20.
The Policy specifically prohibits this City from
conducting individual assessments or engaging in any
interactive process, stating that there shall be “no
exception” to its provisions “without the approval of the
Oversight Committee.” Id. ¶ 21.
Thus, by challenging the Policy, Stewart is also challenging the
Stewart does not argue that joining the Union would defeat
the court’s jurisdiction.
CBA, which established the Policy and which the City is obligated
Allowing Stewart to proceed without the Union’s
involvement, first, would prevent the court from according Stewart
his requested relief.
In addition to damages, Stewart seeks an
injunction enjoining the City from implementing the Policy in its
Ordering such relief, should Stewart prevail, would
also directly affect the CBA and prejudice the Union’s rights
The court will not effectively vitiate or rewrite a
contract, in whole or part, without the involvement of all parties
to that contract.
For the same reason, the court also finds that
proceeding without the Union would impede its ability to protect
its rights under the CBA.
See In re U.S. v. Hall, 825 F. Supp.
1422, 1428 (D. Minn. 1993) (holding that an absent party to the
challenged contract is a required party because “the validity of
the contracts would be directly affected by the judgment”), aff’d,
U.S. ex rel Hall v. Creative Games Tech., Inc., 27 F.3d 572 (Table)
(8th Cir. 1994); see also Nat’l Org. for Women (NOW), St. Paul
Chapter v. Minn. Mining & Mfg., 73 F.R.D. 467, 469 (D. Minn. 1977)
(joining unions to action under Rule 19(a) where portions of the
collective bargaining agreements were alleged to be unlawful).
inconsistent obligations and possibly liability vis-à-vis the
For example, because the CBA contractually obligates the
City to do certain things in a prescribed way, a court order to the
contrary could subject the City to suit by the Union.
As a result,
the court concludes that the Union is a required party and orders
that it be joined to this action pursuant to Rule 19(a)(2).
Accordingly, based on the above, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that
The motion for judgment on the pleadings [ECF No. 21] is
Stewart shall join the International Union of Operating
Engineers Local #49 as a party to this action within ten days of
the date of this Order.
Dated: August 21, 2017
s/David S. Doty
David S. Doty, Judge
United States District Court
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