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Minnihan v. Mediacom Communs. Corp.

United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit

March 9, 2015

Mark Minnihan, Plaintiff - Appellant
v.
Mediacom Communications Corporation, Defendant - Appellee

Submitted November 13, 2014

Page 804

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 805

Appeal from United States District Court for the Southern District of Iowa - Des Moines.

For Mark Minnihan, Plaintiff - Appellant: Melissa Hasso, Mark D. Sherinian, SHERINIAN & WALKER, West Des Moines, IA.

For Mediacom Communications Corporation, Defendant - Appellee: Michael Giudicessi, Emily S. Hildebrand Pontius, Karin A. Johnson, FAEGRE & BAKER, Des Moines, IA.

Before RILEY, Chief Judge, BEAM and GRUENDER, Circuit Judges.

OPINION

Page 806

BEAM, Circuit Judge.

Mark Minnihan sued his former employer, Mediacom Communications Corporation (Mediacom), alleging discrimination in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act of 2008 (ADAAA), 42 U.S.C. § § 12101 et seq., and the Iowa Civil Rights Act (ICRA), Iowa Code Chapter 216. The district court[1] concluded Minnihan was not a qualified individual for the purposes of the ADAAA and the ICRA, granted summary judgment in favor of Mediacom, and dismissed the complaint. Minnihan appeals, and we affirm.

I. BACKGROUND

Minnihan worked for Mediacom, a communications company, and its predecessor, for more than thirty years. From July 2001 until May 2011, Minnihan was a technical operations supervisor (TOS) in Mediacom's Ames, Iowa, facility.

Page 807

As a TOS, Minnihan's primary responsibilities were to supervise, train, and support the technicians installing cable and internet services in customers' homes, as well as to respond to customers' service needs. As part of these responsibilities, Minnihan was required to perform thirteen to fourteen Quality Control checks (QCs) on each technician under his supervision each quarter.[2] Mediacom wanted TOSs to conduct QCs independently. The way Minnihan performed QCs before he was restricted from driving, and the way all other TOSs conducted QCs, was to go to the job site after a technician completed a job to inspect the technician's work and determine if the technician was meeting Mediacom's standards. Minnihan's duties also required him to supervise his technicians by doing " tech ride-alongs," where Minnihan would observe technicians performing installation and service calls on the job site.

Another part of Minnihan's job was to respond to customer complaints, or escalated trouble calls. When Mediacom received such a complaint, either a different technician or the supervising TOS of the original technician would drive to the customer's home, discuss the complaint, and fix the technical issue if it had not already been resolved. Other duties of the TOS position included: being on call twenty-four hours a day, and seven days a week to respond to cable outages; conducting accident investigations when field technicians were involved in an accident; performing unannounced safety checks on technicians; delivering equipment to technicians in the field; or accompanying technicians taking Mediacom vehicles in for repairs.

To facilitate his job, Mediacom provided Minnihan, and all individuals in the TOS position, a company vehicle, which they expected the TOSs to use while driving to and from work, performing their responsibilities during the day, and responding to outages after regular work hours. Mediacom and Minnihan dispute exactly how much of Minnihan's time was spent working out in the field, but at a minium Minnihan agrees fifty percent of his working hours were spent outside of the office.

On December 1, 2009, Minnihan experienced a seizure at work, and as a result was restricted from driving for six months. Iowa law prohibits an individual who has experienced a seizure from driving " until that person has not had an episode of loss of consciousness or loss of voluntary control for six months." Iowa Admin. Code r. 761-600.4(4). Mediacom accommodated Minnihan's December 2009 seizure and subsequent restriction from driving by reallocating his driving responsibilities to other employees. This included having Minnihan ride along with the technicians he was supervising to get to job sites, sometimes having other employees drive Minnihan to job sites, and reassigning some of Minnihan's responsibilities to other employees. Minnihan testified that his assistant, Dave Hutchison, and another employee, Thor Carlstrom, were already performing some of his duties that involved ...


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