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Walz v. Ameriprise Financial, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Minnesota

May 22, 2014

Marissa Walz, Plaintiff,
v.
Ameriprise Financial, Inc., Defendant

Page 982

Mark A. Greenman, Law Office of Mark A. Greenman, Minneapolis, Minnesota, for Plaintiff.

Melissa Raphan, Christopher A. Amundsen, Dorsey & Whitney LLP, Minneapolis, Minnesota, for Defendant.

OPINION

Page 983

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

RICHARD H. KYLE, United States District Judge.

INTRODUCTION

In this action, Plaintiff Marissa Walz alleges her former employer, Defendant Ameriprise Financial, Inc. (" Ameriprise" ), discriminated against her on the basis of her disability by failing to accommodate her and terminating her employment, in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (" ADA" ), 42 U.S.C. § 12201 et seq., and the Minnesota Human Rights Act (" MHRA" ), Minn. Stat. § 363A.01 et seq. Ameriprise now moves for summary judgment and, for the reasons explained below, its Motion will be granted.

BACKGROUND

The following facts, though largely undisputed, are recited in the light most favorable to Walz.

Walz was employed by Ameriprise from 1996 through 2012. In general, she was a good employee and her performance reviews were mostly positive. She has Bipolar I Disorder, which is characterized by extreme mood swings from depression to mania that may cause significant difficulty in one's job or relationships. Manic episodes can be severe or dangerous and the symptoms, which vary for each individual, may include poor judgment, rapid speech, racing thoughts, aggressive behavior, agitation or irritation, delusions or a break from reality, and poor performance at work. Walz has been hospitalized with mania approximately six times in her life. Between 2005 and 2011, she took several leaves of absence from Ameriprise, three of which she attributes to her disorder.

In 2011, Walz was recruited by her former supervisor, David Beltman, to work in the newly formed Enterprise Operations Support Department as a Process Analyst II. In that position, Walz worked to build consensus among many individuals and departments in order to standardize Ameriprise's letters to its customers and wholesalers. She acknowledges that one aspect of her position was maintaining good relationships with others within the company. Beltman supervised her directly in this role until February 2012, when he hired Thad Radel to take over supervision.

One month later, in March 2012, Walz had a serious flare-up of her disorder and was extremely manic. She had not disclosed her disorder to anyone at work,[1] but her symptoms affected her conduct at work and Radel and Walz's coworkers noticed the change. On Friday, March 16, Radel and Walz were in a meeting with the marketing department when Walz turned to a coworker and said, " Stop interrupting me; you don't know what you're talking about," and then stood up and began scribbling notes on the white board " in an aggressive, fast, and illegible manner." (Walz Decl. Ex. A.) Radel states he ...


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