United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
John E. Jones III Judge
pending before the Court is Defendant's motion for
summary judgment. (the “Motion”) (Doc. 34).
Plaintiff Jean Calaman brings two counts against her former
employer, Defendant Carlisle Regional Medical Center,
alleging violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act
(“ADA”) and the Family and Medical Leave Act
(“FMLA”). (Doc. 12). The Motion has been fully
briefed (Docs. 36, 40, 41) and is therefore ripe for our
review. For the reasons that follow, the Motion shall be
granted and the case closed.
Jean Calaman (“Plaintiff”) began her employment
with Defendant Carlisle Regional Medical Center (the
“Hospital”) in 1979. (Doc. 35, ¶ 1).
Plaintiff started work as a Radiology Nurse in the
Interventional Radiology Department (the “IR
Department”) in 1989. (Id., at ¶ 2). Her
responsibilities included “scheduling patients,
communicating with physicians' offices regarding
procedures, assessing patients, educating them regarding
procedures, and pre- and post-sedation care of the
patient.” (Id., at ¶ 3). Radiology Nurses
are expected to be on their feet a majority of the time and
not just to stand and walk, but to actually bear weight.
(Id., at ¶ 4).
relevant times, Jennifer Dorrough was the Director of Imaging
Services and Pain Management and had ultimate supervisory
responsibility over the employees in the IR Department.
(Id., at ¶ 14). Before taking leave, the other
full time Radiology Nurse in the IR Department was Tracy Van
Pelt. (Id., at ¶ 12). In a December 17, 2012
performance evaluation, the IR Department Supervisor rated
Plaintiff as “often falls below performance
expectations, needs improvement” in the category of
“Promotes teamwork and open communication.”
(Id., at ¶ 19). The evaluation also stated,
“need to work on communication w/ Tracy & myself.
We need to be able to move forward w/ schedule planning
between you and Tracy . . .” (Id., at ¶
20). In a December 20, 2013 performance evaluation, the IR
Department Supervisor again rated Plaintiff as “often
falls below performance expectations, needs
improvement” in the category of “Promotes
teamwork and open communication.” (Id., at
¶ 22). The evaluation also stated “We need to work
on communication - I think most of our issues can be put to
rest w/ open dialogue between us all.” (Id.,
at ¶ 23). Plaintiff testified that she is
“stubborn and . . . that doesn't always meet well
with my co-workers.” (Id., at ¶ 17).
in 2014, Plaintiff had trouble walking, pushing beds and
standing for extended periods of time. (Id., at
¶ 30). She did not ask for any changes in her duties as
a Radiology Nurse. (Id., at ¶¶ 31, 32). In
June 2014, Plaintiff told Dorrough that she was going to have
surgery on her foot. (Id., at ¶ 33). Plaintiff
completed FMLA leave paperwork and it was approved by
Dorrough and Tenna Synder, the Hospital's Benefits
Manager. (Id., at ¶ 35). Plaintiff's last
day of work in the IR Department was July 2, 2014.
(Id., at ¶ 39). She anticipated a four week
leave of absence, but this was ultimately her last day of
work as a Radiology Nurse in the IR Department.
(Id., at ¶¶ 38, 39).
the IR Department was staffed with part time nurses during
her leave, Plaintiff recognized that her absence would place
stress on Van Pelt as “the only full-time, permanently
assigned Radiology Nurse.” (Id., at ¶
42). In August 2014, while Plaintiff was on FMLA leave,
Dorrough contacted Plaintiff by phone and asked whether she
could return to work for light duty to alleviate hardship on
her coworkers. (Id., at ¶ 43). Plaintiff
declined to return to work, and informed Snyder of
Dorrough's phone call. (Doc. 40, att. 1, ¶ 43).
exhausted her twelve weeks of FMLA leave on September 25,
2014, but was physically unable to return to her original
work position at that time. (Doc. 35, ¶¶ 48, 49).
Following her twelve week FMLA leave, Plaintiff informed the
Hospital that she required additional leave to have surgery
on her other foot. (Id., at ¶ 50). The Hospital
told Plaintiff that her position would not be held beyond her
twelve week FMLA leave. (Doc. 40, att. 1, ¶ 51). The
Hospital's Employee Handbook provides that an employee
can request Personal or General Medical Leave beyond her FMLA
leave, but provides that an associate may not take more than
26 weeks of combined leave in a single year. (Doc. 35,
¶¶ 54, 55). The Handbook further provides that the
associate does “not have any automatic right to return
to their previous positions, to equivalent positions, or to
any position within the hospital.” (Id., at
September 25, 2014, Snyder wrote to Plaintiff to provide her
with a Personal/ Medical Leave application and inform her
that her FMLA leave ended on September 25, 2014; the letter
stated: “we cannot guarantee you a position if or when
you are able to return to work.” (Id., at
¶ 60). Plaintiff checked a box on her Personal/Medical
Leave application indicating she was seeking “Extension
(no guarantee of reinstatement).” (Id., at
¶ 61). Plaintiff completed this form and it was approved
by Dorrough on October 9, 2014. (Id., at ¶ 62).
She completed a similar form that was approved by Snyder on
October 1, 2014. (Id., at ¶ 64). Plaintiff
acknowledged on this form that she “underst[oo]d that
if granted an approved leave of absence, the facility cannot
guarantee [her] position upon return to work.”
(Id., at ¶ 63).
Hospital provided Plaintiff with a status form for her
General Medical Leave on October 17, 2014. (Id., at
¶ 75). The form stated: “It is important to note
that your right to return to your previous position, to an
equivalent or any position within the hospital shall not be
guaranteed during the Personal/Medical Leave.”
(Id.). Plaintiff requested leave from October 24,
2014 to November 23, 2014, again acknowledging that her
position was not guaranteed upon return to work.
(Id., at ¶ 76). Plaintiff was again provided
with a status form on November 18, 2014, containing the same
notice that her position would not be guaranteed.
(Id., at ¶ 77). Plaintiff ultimately requested
and was granted three four-week medical leaves of absence
following her twelve-week FMLA leave. (Id., at
Hospital received approval to fill Plaintiff's Radiology
Nurse position in the IR Department on October 29, 2014.
(Id., at ¶ 68). Plaintiff testified that she
understood the Hospital's need for a second full-time IR
nurse in the department. (Doc. 35, ex. A, 194:19-23). The
position was filled by Scott Aldrich, a nurse working in
another unit who had worked per diem in the IR
Department during Plaintiff's leave. (Id., at
¶ 69). Aldrich submitted a transfer request on November
4, 2014 and began work as a full-time Radiology Nurse in the
IR Department on December 8, 2014. (Id., at
¶¶ 72, 73).
her second four-week leave, in November 2014, Plaintiff
reviewed job postings at the hospital and spoke with Susan
Stuckey, Director of the Outpatient Surgery Center, regarding
an open position as a part-time perianesthesia nurse.
(Id.). Stuckey interviewed Plaintiff on November 12,
2014 at the request of Human Resources. (Id. at
¶ 83). Plaintiff testified about her interview with
Stuckey: “she was concerned that I'd be able - that
[the job] required you to be on your feet all day long and
she didn't know if I could do that.” (Doc. 35, ex.
A, 214:16-215:1). At the time of her interview, Plaintiff was
still on medical leave and was not capable of performing the
perianesthesia nurse position. (Doc. 35, ¶ 87).
was not brought back for a second interview. (Doc. 25, ¶
92). Stuckey testified that this decision was based on a
conversation with Tracey Nicholson, who told Stuckey that
Plaintiff was not a team player and would not be a good fit
for the position. (Doc. 35, ex. W, 26:14-27:6). Stuckey
further testified that this conversation with Nicholson was
the only reason that she decided not to bring
Plaintiff back for another interview. (Id.).
Plaintiff disputes this decision making process and alleges
that Stuckey did not bring her back for an interview due to
her medical condition. (Doc. 40, att. 1, ¶ 93). However,
Plaintiff testified that she did not know how the decision
was made or why she did not receive a second interview. (Doc.
35, ¶ 94). At some point during this process, Dorrough
spoke with Stuckey and told her that she would not re-hire
Plaintiff because she “created a lot of tension in our
department.” (Doc. 35, ex. B, 75:6-76:1).
discussed other positions at the Hospital with human
resources and the Chief Nursing Officer, Ann Spade, but did
not interview or submit an application for any other position
prior to the expiration of her medical leave on December 29,
2014. (Doc. 35, ¶ 98). Plaintiff submitted a return to
work release on or about December 29, 2014 when her leave
expired. (Id., at ¶ 99). On or about January 6,
2015, the Hospital corresponded with Plaintiff stating:
We regret to inform you that your employment as a Registered
Nurse with Carlisle Regional Medical Center has ended
effective December 30, 2014.
As you are aware, you have exhausted all FMLA time and
additional medical leave, a total of six months. Your job
protection status ended at the end of the FMLA phase.
Although you were released to return to work effective
December 29, 2014, no applicable position is available at
this time based on your skill set.
You are welcome to continue to review job openings at the
facility. If you have an interest in applicable openings,
please complete the online application . . . .
(Id., at ¶ 100).
December 2014, Plaintiff met with Spade to discuss her job
search within the Hospital. (Id., at ¶ 103).
Spade informed Plaintiff of an open nurse position in the
Hospital's Wound Clinic. (Id.). Plaintiff
applied on January 2, 2015, but was not selected for the
position. (Id., at ¶¶ 104, 107). The
Hospital does not have any record of anyone being hired to
fill that position. (Id., at ¶ 109). An
identical position was posted on March 27, 2015 and
subsequently filled, but Plaintiff did not submit an
application for this posting. (Id., at ¶¶
110-112). During their December 2014 conversation, Spade also
informed Plaintiff of an opening in the Hospital's
Medical-Surgical Unit, but Plaintiff was uninterested and did
not apply. (Id., at ¶ 113-115).
posted an open position for the Hospital's Pain Clinic on
January 27, 2015, for which Plaintiff submitted an
application in February 2015. (Id., at ¶¶
118, 121). Dorrough hired someone other than Plaintiff to
fill this position. (Id., at ¶ 125). Plaintiff
again applied for a position in the Pain Clinic in July 2015,
but Dorrough filled this position without knowledge of
Plaintiff's application. (Id., at ¶¶
126-129). Finally, Plaintiff again applied for a position in
the Pain Clinic in December 2015, but Hospital records do not
indicate that there was an open position in the clinic at
that time. (Id., at ¶ 131).
filed an amended complaint on March 18, 2016, bringing two
counts against the Hospital for violations of the ADA and
FMLA. (Doc. 12). The Hospital filed this Motion
for summary judgment on November 1, 2016. (Doc. 34).