United States District Court, D. Nebraska
OSCAR C. HERNANDEZ, Plaintiff,
HORMEL FOODS CORPORATION, Defendant.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
M. GERRARD UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
plaintiff, Oscar Hernandez, is suing his employer Hormel
Foods Corporation for allegedly discriminating against him on
the basis of his disability and national origin. Hernandez
also alleges that he was retaliated against after filing a
workers' compensation claim.
matter is before the Court on Hormel Foods' motion for
summary judgment (filing 45). For the reasons set forth
below, the Court will grant Hormel Foods' motion for
summary judgment in its entirety.
is of Mexican origin. Filing 47 at 30. He is currently
employed by Hormel Foods at a meat processing facility
located in Fremont, Nebraska. See filing 47 at 78;
see also filing 54 at 2. Hernandez has worked for
Hormel Foods for nearly fourteen years as a "belly
trimmer." Filing 46 at 6; filing 47 at 8. In his
"belly trim" position, Hernandez is primarily
responsible for using an electric "whizard" knife
to trim fat patches from the pork bellies as they proceed on
the production line. Filing 47 at 7; 80.
January 23, 2015, Hernandez suffered a left shoulder injury.
Filing 47 at 14. This injury was reported to his supervisor
and Hernandez received treatment at the Hormel Foods
infirmary. Filing 47 at 14. Over the next several months,
however, Hernandez's shoulder pain became progressively
worse. Filing 47 at 15.
July 16, 2015 Hernandez was evaluated by orthopedic
specialist Dr. Kirk Hutton. Filing 15 at 2. Dr. Hutton opined
that Hernandez had a "[p]robable rotator cuff" tear
and suggested that Hernandez schedule an MRI. Filing 51 at 4.
Until then, Dr. Hutton stated that he would "allow
[Hernandez] to continue to work" so long as work was
done "below shoulder level and close to his body."
Filing 51 at 4. A few weeks later, the results of
Hernandez's MRI confirmed Dr. Hutton's suspicions:
Hernandez had "significant tearing of two tendons of the
rotator cuff" and surgery was scheduled for late
November. Filing 52 at 2. Until surgery, Hernandez remained
on a "[ten] pound lifting maximum" and was ordered
to "keep work below shoulder level, and within
18" of [his] body." Filing 52 at 2.
claims that Hormel Foods did not respect his work
restrictions from July 16, 2015 (i.e., when his
rotator cuff tear was first diagnosed) until November 5, 2015
(i.e., just before he underwent shoulder
surgery). See filing 15 at 1-2. As such,
Hernandez filed an employment discrimination charge with the
Nebraska Equal Opportunity Commission and the federal Equal
Employment Opportunity Commission, which dismissed his
charge. Filing 15 at 2-3. Hernandez filed this suit asserting
claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1981; Title VII of the Civil
Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq.; and the
Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. § 12101
et seq. (as amended by the ADA Amendments Act of 2008
(ADAAA), Pub. L. No. 110-325, 122 Stat. 3553 (2008)). Filing
15 at 5. He also asserts state-law claims under the Nebraska
Fair Employment Practice Act (NFEPA) Neb. Rev. Stat. §
48-1101 et seq., and common law workers' compensation
retaliation. Filing 15 at 4. Hormel Foods has moved for
summary judgment on those claims.
judgment is proper if the movant shows that there is no
genuine dispute as to any material fact and that the movant
is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. See
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). The movant bears the initial
responsibility of informing the Court of the basis for the
motion, and must identify those portions of the record which
the movant believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine
issue of material fact. Torgerson v. City of
Rochester, 643 F.3d 1031, 1042 (8th Cir. 2011) (en
banc). If the movant does so, the nonmovant must respond by
submitting evidentiary materials that set out specific facts
showing that there is a genuine issue for trial. Id.
motion for summary judgment, facts must be viewed in the
light most favorable to the nonmoving party only if there is
a genuine dispute as to those facts. Id. Credibility
determinations, the weighing of the evidence, and the drawing
of legitimate inferences from the evidence are jury
functions, not those of a judge. Id. But the
nonmovant must do more than simply show that there is some
metaphysical doubt as to the material facts. Id. In
order to show that disputed facts are material, the party
opposing summary judgment must cite to the relevant
substantive law in identifying facts that might affect the
outcome of the suit. Quinn v. St. Louis County, 653
F.3d 745, 751 (8th Cir. 2011). The mere existence of a
scintilla of evidence in support of the nonmovant's
position will be insufficient; there must be evidence on
which the jury could conceivably find for the nonmovant.
Barber v. C1 Truck Driver Training, LLC,
656 F.3d 782, 791-92 (8th Cir. 2011). Where the record taken
as a whole could not lead a rational trier of fact to find
for the nonmoving party, there is no genuine issue for trial.
Torgerson, 643 F.3d at 1042.
brought under different theories of recovery, Hernandez's
allegations can be grouped into three general categories:
disability discrimination, national origin discrimination,
and workers' compensation ...