United States District Court, N.D. West Virginia
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT'S
MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT [DKT. NO. 25] AND DISMISSING CASE
M. KEELEY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
plaintiff, registered nurse Georgette Chmura
(“Chmura”), was terminated from her employment at
Monongalia General Hospital (“Mon General”), a
subsidiary of the defendant, Monongalia Health System
(“Mon Health”), after failing to obtain a
mandatory influenza vaccination. Chmura alleges that by
terminating her employment Mon Health discriminated against
her on the basis of her alleged disability, a latex allergy,
in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
Pending before the Court is Mon Health's motion for
summary judgment. For the reasons that follow, the Court
GRANTS Mon Health's motion (Dkt. No.
25), and DISMISSES the case WITH
Chmura's Employment History and Mon General's
Influenza Vaccination Program
in January 2007 Chmura was employed by Mon General as a per
diem registered nurse (Dkt. No. 26-1 at 6-7). Chmura
maintained that job title throughout the duration of her
employment with Mon General, working approximately two to
three days per week. Id. at 7, 9.
in 2015, Mon General implemented a mandatory Influenza
Vaccination Program. See Dkt. No. 26-2 (“Flu
Vaccination Policy”); see also Dkt. No. 26-1
at 11. The stated purpose of the Flu Vaccination Policy was
“to provide information to [Mon Health] Healthcare
Workers (HCW) regarding the requirements for all employees,
medical staff, allied health staff, residents, contract
employees, and volunteers providing services on any [Mon
Health] premises to be immunized against influenza”
(Dkt. No. 26-2 at 1). Chmura testified during her deposition
that the Policy was designed to “reduce [the]
risk” of influenza to patients and staff members (Dkt.
No. 26-1 at 11-12).
to the Flu Vaccination Policy, any healthcare worker having a
medical contraindication that prevented him or her from
obtaining the influenza vaccination “must submit a
Medical Exemption Form in its entirety to [the] Employee
Health [Department]” (Dkt. No. 26-2 at 1). The Medical
Exemption Form “require[d] complete
documentation” from the healthcare worker's
physician, and an exemption request was subject to approval
by the Chair of the Infection Prevention Committee and the
Vice President/Medical Director. Id. A healthcare
worker receiving an approved medical exemption “[was]
required to wear a mask at all times while at work per
annually established vaccination deadlines.”
Id. Further, healthcare workers “[failing] to
receive the influenza vaccination or obtain an approved
exemption by the date determined annually, [were] considered
as not meeting the conditions of employment and . . .
considered to have resigned their employment.”
Id. at 2.
her employment with Mon General, Chmura had reviewed the Flu
Vaccination Policy and understood that it applied to her
(Dkt. No. 26-1 at 10, 17).
Chmura's 2015 Vaccination Exemption Request
October 2015, Chmura submitted a Medical Exemption Form
completed by her primary care physician, Dr. Janice Allen
(“Dr. Allen”) (Dkt. No. 26-3 at 2). The 2015
Medical Exemption Form provided three boxes that could be
checked by a healthcare worker's physician, each of which
referenced certain recognized contraindications to the
influenza vaccination. The Form directed the physician to
certify that the healthcare worker “should not
be immunized for influenza for the following reasons (Please
check all that apply):
 History of previous allergic reaction and documented
allergy testing to indicate an immediate hypersensitivity
reaction to the influenza vaccine or a component of the
vaccine. Please attach supporting DOCUMENTATION or
 History of Guillain-Barre Syndrome within six weeks of
receiving a previous vaccine. Please provide and attach a
detailed narrative that describes the event.
 Other - Please provide this information in a separate
narrative that describe the exception in detail (these
requests will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis).”
Id. at 2 (emphasis in original). On Chmura's
2015 Medical Exemption Form, Dr. Allen checked the box next
to “Other, ” and noted “severe Latex
allergy. Patient concerned Latex in vial or needle.”
testified in her deposition that, along with her completed
Medical Exemption Form, she provided Mon General with a
September 12, 2014 letter from Lisa Donahue, Patient Safety
Officer at University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Shadyside
(“Donahue”) (Dkt. No. 26-1 at
18-19). In Donahue's words, “the purpose
of this letter [wa]s to confirm that during . . . [a
hospital] stay beginning September 4, 2014, [Chmura]
experienced low blood pressure requiring medication during
surgery from the use of latex gloves” (Dkt. No. 26-4).
The only supporting documentation Chmura provided with her
2015 exemption request was Donahue's letter recounting
her reaction to latex (Dkt. No. 26-1 at 22).
email dated November 9, 2015, S. Nicole Linger, Employee
Health & Wellness Manager for Mon General
(“Linger”), informed Chmura that her
“request for a medical exemption to the vaccine ha[d]
been denied” (Dkt. No. 26-5)
(emphasis in original). Linger's email also advised
Chmura that, “[i]f you fail to receive the influenza
vaccination by [November 13, 2015], you have failed to meet
[Mon Health] conditions of employment and your actions will
be considered a resignation of employment” (Dkt. No.
following day, November 10, 2015, Linger sent an email to Dr.
Dino Delaportas (“Dr. Delaportas”), stating that
Chmura “was just in my office and would like to talk to
you about her flu exemption . . . She has a Latex
allergy.” See Dkt. No. 26-6. On the same date,
Linger or another employee indicated in a handwritten note
that she had “called [Chmura] and told her that
Delaportas states he's not changing his mind on
latex.” Id. Chmura's deposition testimony
confirms that she never spoke to Dr. Delaportas following the
denial of her 2015 exemption request but understood her
request had been denied due to the availability of latex-free
influenza vaccines (Dkt. No. 26-1 at 22).
days after the denial of her exemption request, on November
12, 2015, Chmura received an intramuscular injection of
Afluria®, a latex-free influenza vaccine
(“Afluria”), at a Rite Aid pharmacy (Dkt. No.
26-7). Approximately two months after receiving Afluria, on
January 19, 2016, Chmura completed a Vaccine Adverse Event
Reporting System (VAERS) form, in which she reported that the
vaccine had caused itching on her arm and wrist and redness
on her hands and neck (Dkt. No. 26-8).
Chmura's 2016 Vaccination Exemption Request
following year, in October 2016, Chmura met with Lisa Pifer,
an Employee Health Nurse at Mon Health (“Pifer”),
to discuss her 2016 influenza vaccination status.
See Dkt. No. 26-9. During that meeting, Chmura
provided Pifer with copies of her completed VAERS form and an
observation note from George Anderson
(“Anderson”), the Rite Aid pharmacist who had
administered the Afluria vaccine to her (Dkt. No. 26-7).
Anderson's note stated, in full, “Patient showed
severe anxiety & nervousness due to latex allergy.
Observed pt for over a half hour & showed anxiousness
& itching. I did not observe any rash or breathing
issues, but patient was itching midsection & various
other parts of the body.” Id. Chmura testified
in her deposition that Anderson's report accurately
described her 2015 reaction to the Afluria vaccine (Dkt. No.
26-1 at 24).
October 12, 2016 email memorializing her conversation with
Chmura, Pifer reported that she had advised Chmura to
“have her doctor fill out a medical exemption form with
as much supporting documentation as possible.”
Id. In the same email, Pifer wrote that Chmura
“said she would not take the flu shot this year.”
(Dkt. No. 26-9).
weeks following her conversation with Pifer, Chmura submitted
a Medical Exemption Form completed by her new primary care
physician, Dr. Maria Gauna (“Dr. Gauna”) (Dkt.
No. 26-11). Like the 2015 version of the Medical Exemption
Form, the ...