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Melanie Dulina v. Hometown Nursing and

April 12, 2011

MELANIE DULINA, PLAINTIFF,
v.
HOMETOWN NURSING AND REHABILITATION CENTER, ET AL.,
DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: (judge Caputo)

(MAGISTRATE JUDGE PRINCE)

MEMORANDUM

Presently before the Court are Magistrate Judge Prince's Report and Recommendation ("R & R") of December 21, 2010 (Doc. 32) and Defendants' Objections to the Magistrate Judge's R&R (Doc. 34). Magistrate Judge Prince recommended that Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 21) be granted as to Count I (Gender Discrimination) of Plaintiff's Second Amended Complaint. Defendants objected that, while they agreed with the Magistrate Judge's recommendation to dismiss Count I, they had also moved to have Count II (Retaliation) dismissed as well. This Court will adopt Magistrate Judge Prince's recommendation and grant Summary Judgment in favor of Defendants as to Count I, and will also grant Summary Judgment to Defendants on Count II (ADA Retaliation) as well.

BACKGROUND

As the Magistrate Judge's Report discusses in detail the factual and procedural background of this suit, a brief sketch recapping this background will suffice. Plaintiff was employed by Defendants as a Licensed Practical Nurse from June 2006 until July 2007. In January 2007, Plaintiff told Defendants that she would need an accommodation concerning her condition of suffering from anxiety attacks. Specifically, she would need to be exempted from the mandatory overtime required by the Defendants of all its employees. This request was supported by a note from Plaintiff's treating psychiatrist, Dr. Shafiq-UrRahman. Defendants sought clarification of the medical basis for Plaintiff's request. In the interim, Plaintiff refused to work overtime and was repeatedly mandated to fulfill her overtime requirements. When Defendants ultimately received clarification in May of 2007, Plaintiff was no longer required to work overtime. Subsequently, on June 20, 2007, Defendants became aware that Plaintiff was pregnant. On July 2, 2007, Plaintiff gave a physician's note to her supervisor stating that Plaintiff could only perform light duty work with a ten (10) pound lifting restriction due to her pregnancy. Plaintiff was told that there were no light duty work positions, and that her position would not be held. Plaintiff was also not entitled to leave under the Family Medical Leave Act since she had been with her employer for less than a year. Plaintiff understood the discussion to have meant that she was terminated, although Defendants contend that she was never fired but rather placed on "inactive" status. Plaintiff eventually returned to part-time work a year and a half later with another employer.

Plaintiff filed a "First Charge" with the Pennsylvania Human Rights Commission ("PHRC") on May 27, 2007 (No. 200607506), which was dual-filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity commission ("EEOC") (No. 17F200762968). This claim concerned Defendants' failure to accommodate her anxiety condition. The PHRC issued a letter finding no probable cause on the allegations of the First Charge on January 23, 2008. The EEOC issued a right-to-sue letter on July 3, 2008. On March 4, 2008 Plaintiff filed a "Second Charge" with the PHRC relating to Defendants' failure to provide her with light duty work and allegedly retaliating against her for filing the initial EEOC complaint. This was also dual-filed with the EEOC (Nos. 200703599 and 17F200861265). Plaintiff was issued a no probable cause letter on August 12, 2008 and also a right-to-sue letter on this claim on December 12, 2008.

Plaintiff then filed a Complaint in federal court on March 11, 2009. The Complaint was amended on March 13, 2009 and June 3, 2009 (Docs. 3 and 10). In her Second Amended Complaint, Plaintiff brought claims for employment discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA") and Title VII and retaliation under the ADA. Defendants then brought a Motion for Summary Judgment on May 17, 2010. (Doc. 17.) Defendants claimed that Plaintiff's ADA discrimination claim was time-barred because she had not filed her complaint within ninety (90) days of receiving her right-to-sue letter. Defendants also argued that Plaintiff had not presented any evidence of discrimination under Title VII or retaliation under the ADA.

In his R&R, Magistrate Judge Prince held that Plaintiff's ADA discrimination claim was time-barred. Further, the Magistrate Judge granted Defendants' Summary Judgment Motion on the Title VII gender discrimination claim (Count I) because Plaintiff had failed to make out all the elements of the claim. The Magistrate Judge did not address Defendants' Motion as to Count II, the ADA retaliation claim. Defendants' only objection to the R&R was that they had sought Summary Judgment as to Count II as well.

LEGAL STANDARD

I. Objections to the Report and Recommendation

Where objections to the magistrate judge's report are filed, the Court must conduct a de novo review of the contested portions of the report, Sample v. Diecks, 885 F.2d 1099, 1106 n.3 (3d Cir. 1989) (citing 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(c)), provided the objections are both timely and specific, Goney v. Clark, 749 F.2d 5, 6-7 (3d Cir. 1984). In making its de novo review, the Court may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the factual findings or legal conclusions of the magistrate judge. See 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1); Owens v. Beard, 829 F. Supp. 736, 738 (M.D. Pa. 1993). Although the review is de novo, the statute permits the Court to rely on the recommendations of the magistrate judge to the extent it deems proper. See United States v. Raddatz, 447 U.S. 667, 675-76 (1980); Goney, 749 F.2d at 7; Ball v. United States Parole Comm'n, 849 F. Supp. 328, 330 (M.D. Pa. 1994). Uncontested portions of the report may be reviewed at a standard determined by the district court. See Thomas v. Arn, 474 U.S. 140, 154 (1985); Goney, 749 F.2d at 7. At the very least, the Court should review uncontested portions for clear error or manifest injustice. See, e.g., Cruz v. Chater, 990 F. Supp. 375, 376-77 (M.D. Pa. 1998).

II. Summary Judgment

Summary judgment is appropriate if "the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." FED. R. CIV. P. 56(c). A fact is material if proof of its existence or nonexistence might affect the outcome of the suit under the applicable substantive law. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986).

Where there is no material fact in dispute, the moving party need only establish that it is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Where, however, there is a disputed issue of material fact, summary judgment is appropriate only if the factual dispute is not a genuine one. Id. An issue of material fact is ...


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