United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
Bissoon United States District Judge.
Motion to Dismiss (Doc. 9) filed by the County of Allegheny
and Orlando Harper (“Defendants”) regarding
Plaintiff's claims for retaliation and interference under
the Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”), 29
U.S.C. § 2601 et seq., will be granted in part
and denied in part, as described below.
respect to the FMLA retaliation claim, Defendants argue that
Plaintiff cannot make out a prima facie case because
he has not “established [a] causal connection”
between his invocation of his FMLA rights and the alleged
adverse employment action. (Doc. 10 at 4). At this stage of
the litigation, though, Plaintiff need not establish
anything. He needs only plead enough facts, which must be
accepted as true at this time, to “raise a reasonable
expectation that discovery will reveal evidence of the
necessary element[s].” Connelly v. Lane Const.
Corp., 809 F.3d 780, 789 (3d Cir. 2016).
has done just that. “To succeed on an FMLA retaliation
claim, [a plaintiff] must show that (1) he invoked his right
to FMLA-qualifying leave, (2) he suffered an adverse
employment decision, and (3) the adverse action was causally
related to his invocation of rights.” Capps v.
Mondelez Glob., LLC, 847 F.3d 144, 157 (3d Cir. 2017).
The Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit's “case
law has focused on two main factors in finding the causal
link necessary for retaliation: timing and evidence of
ongoing antagonism.” Abramson v. William Paterson
Coll. of N.J., 260 F.3d 265, 288 (3d Cir. 2001). But
those are not the only two ways to do so; “a plaintiff
may rely upon a broad array of evidence” to show the
necessary causal link. Farrell v. Planters Lifesavers
Co., 206 F.3d 271, 284 (3d Cir. 2000). Here, Plaintiff
alleges that he requested and was granted leave at various
times in 2012, 2013 and 2014, and that he eventually was
forced to resign (“constructively discharged, ”
as he puts it) on May 11, 2014. (Doc. 1 ¶ 34). He also
alleges that, between when he last took leave and when he
resigned, Defendant “Harper chastised staff for taking
too many days off” and “made several stray
remarks to Plaintiff about missing time from work[.]”
(Id. ¶¶ 10-11). These comments, coupled
with the relatively short period of time between when
Plaintiff took leave and his resignation, are sufficient at
this stage in the proceedings. Thus, Defendants' Motion
will be denied regarding FMLA retaliation.
Motion will, however, be granted as to Plaintiff's FMLA
interference claim. To state an FMLA interference claim, a
plaintiff must demonstrate:
(1) he or she was an eligible employee under the FMLA; (2)
the defendant was an employer subject to the FMLA's
requirements; (3) the plaintiff was entitled to FMLA leave;
(4) the plaintiff gave notice to the defendant of his or her
intention to take FMLA leave; and (5) the plaintiff was
denied benefits to which he or she was entitled under the
Capps, 847 F.3d at 155 (citation and quotation marks
quotation omitted). “Unlike an FMLA retaliation claim,
‘[a]n interference action is not about discrimination,
it is only about whether the employer provided the employee
with the entitlements guaranteed by the FMLA.'”
Id. (quoting Callison v. City of Phila.,
430 F.3d 117, 120 (3d Cir. 2005)). While Plaintiff argues
that he can succeed on his interference claim without
pleading or proving that he was actually denied leave, that
position is not consistent with Third Circuit precedent. As
the Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit has made clear,
“‘for an interference claim to be viable, the
plaintiff must show that FMLA benefits were actually
withheld.'” Id. (quoting Ross v.
Gilhuly, 755 F.3d 185, 192 (3d Cir. 2014)). Where an
employee “‘received all the benefits to which he
was entitled by taking leave and then being reinstated to the
same position from which he left, '” the employee
“‘cannot satisfy the fifth prong of the
interference analysis[.]'” Id. (quoting
Ross, 755 F.3d at 192).
alleges only that he “had requested and was granted
intermittent leave . . . at various times.” (Doc. 1
¶ 57). Nowhere does he allege that he was denied leave
to which he was entitled. Therefore, he has not stated a
claim for interference under the FMLA.
with the foregoing, the Court hereby enters the following:
Motion to Dismiss (Doc. 9) is GRANTED with respect to
Plaintiff's FMLA interference claim,  and DENIED with
respect to Plaintiff's FMLA retaliation claim. It is
FURTHER ORDERED that the Allegheny County Jail is DISMISSED
as a party to this lawsuit. Finally, Defendants shall answer
the remaining retaliation claim by May 4, 2017.
See Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(a)(4)(A).