The opinion of the court was delivered by: J. Curtis Joyner, United States District Court.
This case has been brought before the court on motion of the defendants
to dismiss for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be
granted. Having now carefully reviewed the record produced by the parties
and for the reasons set forth below, the motion shall be granted in part
and denied in part and Plaintiff's claim under the Family Medical Leave
Act, 29 U.S.C. § 2601, et. seq. is dismissed.
Plaintiff was employed by Defendants as a security investigator
beginning on January 5, 1998. The job required her to spend a large
percentage of her time traveling throughout the northeastern part of the
United States. In early 1999, Plaintiff became seriously ill with what
was later diagnosed as fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome. Her
symptoms included chronic fatigue, body aches and pains, headaches,
nausea, palpitations, lightheadedness and insomnia. Plaintiff began a
medical disability leave of absence in late June 1999.
Around mid-September 1999, Plaintiff informed the Defendants that she
could return to work with the following restrictions: (1) she could not
work more than eight hours a day; and (2) she could not travel for work
except for travel to and from the office. Throughout September, October,
November and December 1999, Plaintiff asked Defendants, at least once a
week, when she could return to work. During these conversations,
Defendants replied that they were attempting to find a suitable position
for her. Plaintiff applied for several other positions within the
company, but without success. In December 1999, Defendants offered
Plaintiff a security investigator position in Los Angeles, California,
but Plaintiff declined the offer because it did not accommodate her
medical restrictions. The Defendants stopped paying her a salary as of
January 2000, but kept her under their employ to give her time to apply
for other positions within the company. When she did not return to her
security investigator position, Defendants deemed her to have abandoned
her job and terminated her employment on July 28, 2000.
Standards Governing Rule 12(b)(6) Motions
A motion to dismiss should not be granted unless it "appears beyond
the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of his
claim which would entitle him to relief." Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41,
45-46, 78 S.Ct. 99, 101-102, 2 L.Ed.2d 80 (1957). In deciding a motion to
dismiss, the court must accept as true all of the matters pleaded and all
reasonable inferences that can be drawn from them, construing them in the
light most favorable to the non-moving party. Markowitz v. Northeast Land
Co., 906 F.2d 100, 103 (3rd Cir. 1990). The court may consider "matters
of public record, orders, exhibits attached to the Complaint and items
appearing in the record of the case." Oshiver v. Levin, Fishbein, Sedran &
Berman, 38 F.3d 1380, 1384 n. 2 (3d Cir. 1994).
A. Count I: Violation of the Family Medical Leave Act.
Plaintiff claims that Defendants violated her rights under the Family
Medical Leave Act (FMLA) pursuant to 29 U.S.C. § 2601-2654 when
Defendants (1) failed to provide her with adequate notice of her rights;
(2) failed to provide her with adequate written notice explaining the
specific expectations and obligations and the consequences of a failure to
meet these obligations; (3) discouraged her from exercising her rights
under the FMLA; (4) failed to engage in the interactive process with
her; (5) discriminated against her on the basis of her serious health
condition; (6) failed to provide her with reasonable accommodations; and
(7) wrongfully terminated her because of her disability and her attempt
to exercise her rights under the FMLA. Plaintiff further alleges that
Defendants' actions and failure to comply with FMLA requirements
constitute a violation of Section 2615(a)(1), which prohibits
interference with an employee's exercise of her FMLA rights.
29 U.S.C. § 2615(a)(1).
Generally, the FMLA provides eligible employees with the right to
take up to 12 work-weeks of leave during a 12-month period for a
serious health condition. 29 U.S.C. § 2612(a)(1)(D). At the end of
the leave period, the employee has the right to be restored to her
former position or an equivalent position. 29 U.S.C. § 2614(a)(1).
In Section 2615(a)(1), the FMLA declares it "unlawful for any employer
to interfere with, restrain, or deny the exercise of or the attempt to
exercise, any right provided under this subchapter." 29 U.S.C. § 2615
(a)(1). Section 2615(a)(2) makes it unlawful "for any employer to
discharge or in any other manner discriminate against any individual for
opposing any practice made unlawful by this subchapter."
29 U.S.C. § 2615(a)(2). The federal regulations interpret section
2615(a)(2) as providing a cause of action for employees who have been
discriminated against in retaliation for taking FMLA leave. See,
29 C.F.R. § 825.220(c).
Courts have refused to recognize a valid claim for interference in the
absence of any injury. Voorhees v. Time Warner Cable Nat'l Div., 1999
U.S. Dist. LEXIS 13227 (E.D.Pa. 1999); Fry v. First Fidelity Bancorp.,
1996 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 875 (E.D.Pa. 1996). See Also: Graham v. State Farm
Mutual Insurance Co., 193 F.3d 1274 (11th Cir. 1999); LaCoparra v.
Pergament Home Centers, Inc., 982 F. Supp. 213 (S.D.N.Y. 1997). In order
for Plaintiff to state a cause of action for interference with her FMLA
rights, she must claim that the alleged interference caused her to
forfeit her FMLA protections. See: Voorhees at *12; Graham, supra.