United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
M. MUNLEY UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT JUDGE
Antonio Murphy (hereinafter “plaintiff”) asserts
Defendants McLane Eastern, Inc. and McLane Eastern,
Inc.'s t/d/b/a McLane PA (collectively
“defendants”) decision to terminate his
employment violated federal and state anti-discrimination
statutes and the Family and Medical Leave Act, 29 U.S.C.
§§ 2601-2619, 2631-2654 and 5 U.S.C. §
6381-6387 (hereinafter “the FMLA”). Before the
court for disposition is defendants' motion to dismiss
plaintiff's FMLA claim pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim upon which
relief can be granted. For the reasons explained below, we
will grant in part and deny in part defendants' motion.
instant discrimination lawsuit arose from plaintiff's
employment with defendants. Plaintiff, an African American
male suffering from demyelinating disease,  severe vertigo,
and an inoperable brain tumor, worked full-time at
defendants' Jessup, Pennsylvania location from November
2012 until September 2014. (Doc. 1, Compl. (hereinafter
“Compl.”) ¶¶ 21, 23, 26, 32-33, 71).
Plaintiff picked products off various conveyor belts and
packaged them into shipping totes. (Id. ¶¶
24-25). Prior to his termination, plaintiff received
satisfactory performance appraisals and had no
performance-related write-ups or discipline issues.
(Id. ¶¶ 27-28).
2014, plaintiff passed out at work. (Id. ¶ 29).
An ambulance arrived and transported plaintiff to the
hospital. (Id.) As a result of this medical event,
plaintiff requested FMLA leave. (Id. ¶ 47).
Defendants approved plaintiff's medical leave request.
(Id. ¶ 48). Thereafter, in August 2014,
plaintiff used one day of medical leave. (Id.
September 18, 2014, plaintiff fell behind at his assembly
line station, causing his line to back up. (Id.
¶ 52). Two of defendants' employees assisted
plaintiff, including co-worker Lisa Murphy. (Id.
¶ 53). After completing a tote, Lisa Murphy
“stormed off”. (Id. ¶ 59). The
defendants then called plaintiff into the human resource
manager's office. (Id. ¶ 60). The human
resource manager stated that a female employee alleged
plaintiff touched her in an inappropriate manner.
(Id. ¶ 61). Plaintiff adamantly denied this
allegation. (Id.) The defendants immediately sent
plaintiff home and terminated his employment on September 22,
2014. (Id. ¶ 71).
response to his termination, plaintiff filed a four-count
complaint. (Doc. 1). Count I alleges a racial discrimination
claim under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42
U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. (Id.
¶¶ 94-103). Count II states a disability
discrimination claim pursuant to the Americans with
Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. § 12101, et seq.
(Id. ¶¶ 104-18). Count III avers racial
and disability discrimination claims under the Pennsylvania
Human Relations Act, 43 Pa. Stat. Ann. § 951, et
seq. (Id. ¶¶ 119-34). Count IV
asserts interference and retaliation claims pursuant to the
FMLA. (Id. ¶¶ 135-57). On August 15, 2016,
defendants filed a motion to dismiss Count IV-plaintiff's
FMLA interference and retaliation claims. (Doc. 9). The
parties then briefed the issues, bringing this matter to its
present procedural posture.
court has federal question jurisdiction over this FMLA
action. See 28 U.S.C. § 1331 (“The
district courts shall have original jurisdiction of all civil
actions arising under the Constitution, laws, or treaties of
the United States.”); 28 U.S.C. §§
1343(a)(3), (4) (granting district courts jurisdiction over
civil actions brought to redress deprivations of
constitutional or statutory rights by way of damages or
equitable relief). We have supplemental jurisdiction over
plaintiff's state law claims pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
defendants filed their motion to dismiss plaintiff's
complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
12(b)(6). The court tests the sufficiency of the
complaint's allegations when considering a Rule 12(b)(6)
motion. All well-pleaded allegations of the complaint must be
viewed as true and in the light most favorable to the
non-movant to determine whether, “‘under any
reasonable reading of the pleadings, the plaintiff may be
entitled to relief.'” Colburn v. Upper Darby
Twp., 838 F.2d 663, 665-66 (3d Cir. 1988) (quoting
Estate of Bailey by Oare v. Cty. of York, 768 F.2d
503, 506 (3d Cir. 1985)). The plaintiff must describe
“‘enough facts to raise a reasonable expectation
that discovery will reveal evidence of' [each] necessary
element” of the claims alleged in the complaint.
Phillips v. Cty. of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 234 (3d
Cir. 2008) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550
U.S. 544, 556 (2007)). Moreover, the plaintiff must allege
facts that “justify moving the case beyond the
pleadings to the next stage of litigation.”
Id. at 234-35. In evaluating the sufficiency of a
complaint, the court may also 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) (citations omitted). The court need
not accept legal conclusions or unwarranted factual
inferences. See Curay-Cramer v. Ursuline Acad. of
Wilmington, Del., Inc., 450 F.3d 130, 133 (3d Cir. 2006)
(citing Morse v. Lower Merion Sch. Dist., 132 F.3d
902, 906 (3d Cir. 1997)).
move to dismiss plaintiff's FMLA claim. The FMLA entitles
“employees to take reasonable leave for medical
reasons, for the birth or adoption of a child, and for the
care of a child, spouse, or parent who has a serious health
condition.” 29 U.S.C. § 2601(b)(2).
“Eligible employees are entitled to ‘12 workweeks
of leave during any twelve-month period.'”
Lichtenstein v. Univ. of Pittsburgh Med. Ctr., 691
F.3d 294, 300 (3d Cir. 2012) (quoting 29 U.S.C. §
FMLA contains two relatively distinct provisions prohibiting
employers from: (1) interfering with an employee's
exercise of their right to take reasonable leave for medical
reasons; and (2) discriminating or retaliating against an
employee who exercises this right. 29 U.S.C. § 2615(a);
see also Lichtenstein, 691 F.3d at 301 (explaining
that under the FMLA, employers may not interfere with,
restrain, or deny the exercise of or attempt to exercise FMLA
rights, and employers may not discharge or in any other
manner discriminate against any individual for opposing any
practice made unlawful) (internal quotations omitted);
Callison v. City of Phila., 430 F.3d 117, 119 (3d
Cir. 2005) (same). Stated differently, interference claims
derive from the denial of some benefit or protection afforded
by the FMLA, whereas retaliation ...