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Kaiser v. Gallup, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Nebraska

April 13, 2015

SUSAN KAISER, Plaintiff,
GALLUP, INC., Defendant.


LAURIE SMITH CAMP, Chief District Judge.

This matter is before the Court on the Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment (Filing No. 102). For the reasons discussed below, the Motion will be granted.


The parties' briefs (Filing Nos. 103, 118, 122) and indexes of evidence (Fling Nos. 103-1 to 103-37[1], 114) reveal that the following facts are not in dispute.[2]

Defendant Gallup, Inc. ("Gallup"), is a Delaware corporation with its principal place of business in Omaha, Nebraska. Part of Gallup's business involves telephone surveys.

Plaintiff Susan Kaiser ("Kaiser") was at all relevant times a resident of Lincoln, Nebraska. She began at-will employment at Gallup's Downtown Lincoln call center in November 2003. She initiated and conducted structured telephone surveys, asking specific questions, following a required interview format and technique, and recording answers. After two years as a part-time associate interviewer, Kaiser was selected for Gallup's "Premier Team, " an elite group of Gallup's highest performing interviewers.

In 2007, Kaiser was involved in a car accident that affected her ability to work. She suffered multiple physical and mental disorders, including amnesia, blackouts, pre-epilepsy, post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, vestibular disorder, seizures, sleep apnea, vision impairment, memory impairment, hearing impairment, brain injury, chronic inflammation of the voice box, asthma, and vertigo. Her medical and psychological conditions limited her ability to sleep, work, concentrate, drive, and care for herself, as well as impairing her cognitive functions.

On July 28, 2008, Gallup advised Kaiser's medical provider of the essential functions of Kaiser's position and requested information about the nature and extent of her condition, the duration of her condition, her prognosis, and any reasonable accommodations that would allow her to perform essential functions of her job.

In August 2008, Kaiser moved to Gallup's Bellevue location, where Seth Schuchman was her manager. On September 16, 2008, Kaiser met with Gallup's Vice President and Associate Counsel, Ken Andersen, as well as Schuchman and another Gallup manager, to discuss Kaiser's condition and her request for accommodations. During that meeting, the parties agreed that Kaiser would work on only three projects and would not work more than 40 hours per week without medical authorization.

In August 2010, Kaiser moved to Gallup's Lincoln Greentree location, where her manager was Jenny Higgins. At Kaiser's request, Higgins permitted Kaiser to focus on a single project due to the limitations she suffered with her memory. Gallup also provided Kaiser with a special chair to accommodate her back issues, and exempted her from certain requirements imposed on other Gallup employees. As of September 26, 2011, Gallup met all Kaiser's requests for accommodations, including her request for a place to work with little distraction.

In September 2011, Kaiser experienced problems with the quality of her work. She skipped two internal quality assurance statements in one week and was issued an Employee Corrective Action Form. The work errors Kaiser made in September 2011 were offenses for which she could have been terminated. Higgins had terminated the employment of other Gallup interviewers for a single offense of skipping an internal quality assurance statement. To help Kaiser reduce distractions and prevent further errors, Higgins moved Kaiser's desk to a less distracting area. Kaiser made no objection, and she perceived that Higgins was being kind.

At some point after September 27, 2011, Kaiser informed Higgins that she was diagnosed with a condition related to seizures. Higgins asked what she could do to help. Kaiser took a medical leave from the end of September 2011 through November 2011, and Gallup helped Kaiser obtain short-term disability benefits during her leave.

In January 2012, Kaiser asked Higgins if she could relocate to Gallup's Edgewood center in Lincoln before the rest of the members of the Premier Team were relocated there in connection with a planned merger of the Greentree and Edgewood centers. Higgins granted Kaiser's request. Higgins remained Kaiser's manager following Kaiser's move to the Edgewood center and throughout the remainder of Kaiser's employment with Gallup.

In May 2012 Kaiser received another Employee Corrective Action Form for again skipping Gallup's internal quality assurance statement. Kaiser understood that completion of the internal quality assurance statements was an essential function of her job; she knew her error was an offense for which she could ...

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