Judge grants Monsanto's motion to dismiss worker's claim of emotional distress

By William Sassani | Jul 26, 2018

NEW ORLEANS – A judge in the U.S. District Court of Eastern District of Louisiana recently granted Monsanto Company's motion for a partial dismissal of claims in a case brought by an employee claiming discrimination and emotional distress based on his weight.

NEW ORLEANS – A judge in the U.S. District Court of Eastern District of Louisiana recently granted Monsanto Company's motion for a partial dismissal of claims in a case brought by an employee claiming discrimination and emotional distress based on his weight. 

In her 11-page ruling filed July 18, U.S. Chief Magistrate Judge Karen Wells Roby ruled that Dwane Lumar failed to prove that he had suffered emotional distress by Monsanto. Roby said that Lumar did not provide facts showing that Monsanto had been unable “to guard against his performing duties that would endanger his welfare.” In fact, Monsanto had not required Lumar to do certain tasks pertaining to his job and had told him not to do “those duties due to his weight," Roby said in the ruling. 

Lumar was a production technician for Monsanto, and as part of his job, he was required to perform physically demanding tasks, including climbing ladders. Lumar weighed 465 pounds yet was able to complete those tasks and passed his initial employee training, court filings said. However, four months into his job he was told by Monsanto that he could no longer perform those duties because of his weight. 

He alleged in his suit that actions by Monsanto to help him lose weight, such as assigning him a nurse, checking in with him every two weeks about his weight and not allowing him to do tasks he previously could do amounted to “intentional infliction of emotional distress.” 

Roby noted that Lumar had failed to show specifically how Monsanto's actions were “intolerable and beyond all bounds of possible human decency.”  Nor did Lumar allege that the emotional distress suffered was considered severe. Third, Lumar could not show how Monsanto “sought to inflict severe emotional distress.” Instead, Monsanto was prohibiting Lumar from using equipment, such as ladders, because of his weight.

In the ruling, the judge dismissed Lumar's claim for negligent infliction of emotional distress and intentional infliction of emotional distresss. 

The judge ruled the motion to dismiss the discrimination claim was moot as Lumar had withdrawn that claim in an amended complaint. 

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