United States District Court, D. Nebraska
CHASSIDY A. AYALA, an individual; Plaintiff,
PAYPAL, INC., a Delaware corporation; Defendant.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
F. Bataillon Senior United States District Judge.
matter is before the court on the defendant's motion for
summary judgment, Filing No. 25. This is an action for
discrimination in employment brought pursuant to Americans
with Disabilities Act of 1990, 42 U.S.C.A. § 12101
et seq. The plaintiff alleges she was subjected to a
hostile work environment by reason of her disability.
following facts are gleaned, in part, from the parties'
briefs and submissions and are not meaningfully disputed. In
October of 2006, PayPal hired Ayala as a Resolution Services
Agent. Her job duties included answering customer phone calls
and solving problems customers had with their PayPal
accounts. Ayala was an at-will employee. At all times
relevant to this lawsuit, PayPal was a subsidiary of eBay
held various positions with PayPal until January of 2011 when
she became a Dispute Resolution Specialist. Ayala held the
position of a Dispute Resolution Specialist until December
2014. During her orientation and employment, Ayala received
and reviewed PayPal's policies, including its Equal
Employment Opportunity ("EEO") Policy and its
Discrimination and Harassment-Free Workplace Policy. Ayala
also signed an Electronic Monitoring Acknowledgment Form,
which informed her that PayPal could monitor and record her
computer usage at work. Ayala was also familiar with
PayPal's Attendance Policy.
January of 2012, Emily Heldridge ("Heldridge") was
Ayala's supervisor during most of the time at issue,
except for a period of time between March 2013 and September
2013, when Chris Smith ("Smith") temporarily
managed Ayala's team while Heldridge assisted a different
team. In late 2014, Heldridge transferred to a different
position and Jenny Nelson became her supervisor.
March or April of 2013, Ayala complained to Heldridge's
supervisor, Sue Hogle, that she was being treated unfairly by
Heldridge. In May of 2013, Ayala wrote a comment about
Heldridge on an anonymous survey that all employees are asked
to complete. Ayala indicated that Heldridge did not treat
everyone fairly and had favorite employees. Ayala testified
that George Ramirez, a former PayPal supervisor, later told
her that the anonymous surveys are not anonymous.
received three disciplinary memos in November of 2013. She
reported to Human Resources through PayPal's automated
system, MyHR, that Heldridge had retaliated against her for
the negative comments made in the May 2013 anonymous survey.
Ayala complained to Human Resources that Heldridge commented
about the slow speed at which Ayala read e-mails, stated that
Ayala did not perform like a regular team member, and was
generally rude. Ayala characterized Heldridge's comments
and demeanor as condescending and demeaning. Ayala informed
Human Resources "I am being retaliated against for
comments I made on a survey."
record shows Ayala has been medically diagnosed with anxiety,
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
(“ADHD”), Post-traumatic Stress Disorder
(“PTSD”), and Depression. Ayala testified that
she informed Heldridge that she had ADHD in 2011 and notified
PayPal's human resources department (the MyHR group) of
her disability and its impact on her life in September 2014.
stated in her deposition that she attributed Heldridge's
conduct in connection with the November 2013 corrective
actions to Ayala's ADHD disability, but there is no
evidence that Ayala told either Heldridge or the human
resources department that she thought the comments referred
to her ADHD at the time of the 2013 incidents. Shortly
thereafter, in December 2013, Ayala requested leave for
treatment for depression and anxiety. She reported she needed
the time off because she was going through a divorce, her
daughter had attempted suicide and she had totaled her car.
She did not report that her supervisor's actions had
caused her anxiety and depression. After Ayala's twelve
weeks of leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act
(“FMLA”) expired, PayPal granted Ayala an
addition two-month leave of absence.
she returned to work, Ayala was disciplined for violations of
PayPal's attendance policy and for providing incorrect
information to a customer. Ayala acknowledges that she
committed the infractions, but contends she was unjustifiably
singled out for discipline. She testified she was subjected
to more reviews of her telephone conversations than other
employees and, unlike other employees, was required to go
through all of her old tickets and log her time. Other than
Ayala's testimony, there is no evidence that other
employees were treated differently.
again complained to MyHR, without mentioning ADHD or any form
of discrimination. The record shows Ayala was advised to
contact the company's short term disability insurer or
employee assistance program if she had a health condition
that was affecting her ability to come to work and to perform
the functions of her job. PayPal's records indicate that
Ayala stated that an ideal resolution would be for Heldridge
to “be nice” to Ayala.
Fall of 2014, Heldridge transferred to another position and
Jenny Nelson became Ayala's supervisor. She was again
counselled and disciplined for unexcused absences. The record
shows Ayala had received nine written warnings in eighteen
months from three different supervisors. PayPal produced
evidence that, over the course of her employment, Ayala
received numerous written warnings, conversation memos,
corrective counselling memos, and disciplinary actions for
such infractions as inappropriate email, improper cell phone
use, low productivity, misappropriation of time (improper
internet use), and attendance violations.
faced another corrective action due to absenteeism in
December 2014. Ayala testified that her supervisor, Jenny
Nelson, told her she would not be fired at that time and
would be given another chance, but if she missed one more
day, Ayala would be terminated. Ayala testified that at that