John R. Trenter, Appellant,
Fairview Health Services d/b/a Fairview Southdale Hospital, Respondent.
Hennepin County District Court File No. 27-CV-12-3837
Clayton D. Halunen, Susan M. Coler, Halunen & Associates, Minneapolis, Minnesota (for appellant)
Sara Gullickson McGrane, Jessica M. Marsh, Felhaber, Larson, Fenlon & Vogt, P.A., Minneapolis, Minnesota (for respondent)
Considered and decided by Hudson, Presiding Judge; Halbrooks, Judge; and Ross, Judge.
Appellant challenges the district court's summary-judgment dismissal of his claims of disability discrimination, failure to accommodate a disability, and reprisal under the Minnesota Human Rights Act (the MHRA), arguing that he presented evidence sufficient to defeat summary judgment on each claim. Because appellant's claims fail as a matter of law, we affirm.
Appellant John R. Trenter worked for 23 years as a "float pool" nurse for respondent Fairview Health Services. His employment was terminated in January 2011, following a year-long medical leave of absence.
Trenter took several leaves of absence during his employment with Fairview pursuant to the terms of his employment contract. Trenter took medical leave first in 2004 and again in July 2005 until June 2006.
In 2006, P.C., the patient-care supervisor for the float pool, became Trenter's supervisor. In annual performance evaluations in both October 2006 and November 2007, P.C. rated Trenter as "fully effective" and concluded that he met all job-related goals. In the 2007 evaluation, P.C. directed Trenter to "[w]ork on reducing his ill time" and learn work-related procedures.
In 2006, Trenter was diagnosed with moderately severe chemical depression and anxiety, and he experienced difficulty sleeping. Trenter also suffered from a hiatal hernia, a condition with which he was diagnosed in the 1980s that became worse over the years. According to Trenter, a hiatal hernia is "a chest hernia where the stomach actually goes up through a tear in the diaphragm." Trenter developed anemia but was able to manage the condition by taking iron supplements. During his time at Fairview, P.C. was aware that Trenter had "an extraordinary number of health issues" including "depression. . . . [a]nxiety, sleep issues, inability to sleep . . . an umbilical hernia . . . a back strain of some kind."
By 2007, Trenter felt that P.C. was "monitoring [him] more closely" and would harass him whenever he returned to work following a leave of absence. In October 2008, Trenter sent an e-mail to P.C.'s supervisor, director of nursing operations, T.M., complaining that P.C. repeatedly called him at home and work regarding alleged "issues or problems." He stated that he felt "intimidated and harassed" by P.C. T.M. met individually with both Trenter and P.C., after which he concluded that Trenter's complaints "were not valid." The same day that Trenter e-mailed T.M., Trenter was given a "Verbal Advisement" for a "pattern of incomplete charting regarding narcotics administration."
On November 10, 2008, Trenter took medical leave because of a work-related injury. While Trenter was on leave, P.C. conducted Trenter's performance evaluation, deeming Trenter competent in all areas but rating him as "failing to meet expectations." The evaluation indicated that Trenter had been asked to improve the accuracy of his narcotics-administration charting, learn work-related procedures, and "work on reducing his ill time." Trenter ...