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Dicanio v. Norfolk Southern Railway Co.

United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania

January 30, 2015



ARTHUR J. SCHWAB, District Judge.

I. Introduction

This case centers on alleged violations of the Family and Medical Leave Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2601 et seq., ("FMLA") (Count I-denial of benefits and failure to reinstate) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, 29 U.S.C. § 794, (Counts II-failure to accommodate and III-disability discrimination) by Marla Dicanio's ("Plaintiff's") former employer, Norfolk Southern Railway Company ("Defendant").[1] Plaintiff's Amended Complaint, Doc. No. 16. Defendant moves this Court to dismiss Count III of Plaintiff's Amended Complaint, with prejudice. Doc. No. 18. Plaintiff opposes Defendant's Motion. Doc. No. 20. The matter is fully briefed and ripe for disposition.

After consideration of Plaintiff's Amended Complaint, Defendant's Motion, and briefs in support and opposition thereto, Defendant's Motion will be GRANTED. Doc. Nos. 16, 18, 19, 20, 22.

II. Statement of Facts

The facts of the case, as set forth in Plaintiff's Amended Complaint and taken as true solely for the purpose of this Memorandum Order, are:

Plaintiff was employed by Defendant as a locomotive engineer from November 23, 1997 until September 27, 2012. Doc. No. 16, ¶ 9. In and around June of 2011, Plaintiff was charged with possession of alcohol on company property. Id. at ¶ 10. Plaintiff entered into an agreement to attend alcohol rehabilitation. Id.

Plaintiff returned to work in February of 2012. Id. at ¶ 11. During this time period, Plaintiff was supervised by company officer Darnell Woods. Id. at ¶ 12. On July 5, 2012, individuals within Defendant's medical department decided to submit Plaintiff to a test to determine whether she was using prohibited drugs and/or alcohol. Id. at ¶ 13. The test had to be completed within fourteen (14) days of the department's decision to test Plaintiff and Plaintiff had to submit to a test within three hours of being informed of the testing. Id. at ¶¶ 13, 19.

On or about July 7, 2012, Plaintiff was called to report to work at 3:00AM the next day. Id. at ¶ 14. Plaintiff phoned her conductor to inform the company that she was delayed and had to stop at the store for medicine. Id . Plaintiff also informed J.E. Nadzam, the Road Foreman of Engines of her delay. Id.

Plaintiff reported to work, where Nadzam observed her holding her lower abdomen. Id. at ¶ 15. Plaintiff stated to Nadzam that she was sick and needed to vomit. Id . Plaintiff was not observed to smell of alcohol. Id. at ¶ 16. Nadzam understood that Plaintiff was unlikely able to work at that moment. Id. at ¶ 15. Nadzam then informed Plaintiff that she was scheduled for a drug test. Id.

Plaintiff became ill and left work. Id. at ¶ 17. Nadzam phoned Plaintiff, who informed him that she was at a grocery store to get medicine and needed to change her now soiled clothing. Id . Nadzam called Supervisor Woods, who called another engineer to report for the shift and cancelled Plaintiff's drug test. Id. at ¶ 18. Plaintiff called Nadzam so that she could return to work to take the drug/alcohol test and/or go to the hospital for testing. Id. at ¶ 19. This phone call was approximately two hours and seven minutes after Plaintiff was informed that she would be tested. Id . Supervisor Woods would not permit Plaintiff to return to work or take the drug/alcohol test. Id . Plaintiff was held off of work pending an investigation. Supervisor Woods took these actions because of his knowledge of her past alcoholism. Id. at ¶ 20.

The next day, Plaintiff made an appointment with her doctor for July 10, 2012. Id. at ¶ 21. In a letter dated July 12, 2012, Nadzam instructed Plaintiff to report for a formal investigation for "failure to cooperate with follow-up drug and alcohol testing when you failed to remain available for a follow-up urine drug screen and breath alcohol test by leaving the property prior to completion of the test, which constitutes a refusal to test." Id. at ¶ 22. A hearing was held on September 17, 2012, and included presentation of medical evidence from Plaintiff's physician. Id. at ¶ 23. Plaintiff was terminated, by letter, on September 27, 2012. Id. at ¶ 24.

III. Standard of Review

In considering a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, Federal Courts require notice pleading, as opposed to the heightened standard of fact pleading. Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2) requires only "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief, ' in order to give the defendant fair notice of what the... claim is and the grounds on which it rests.'" Bell Atlantic ...

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