United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
M. MUNLEY JUDGE.
the court for disposition is a motion for summary judgment
filed by Defendant Julia Ribaudo Healthcare Group, LLC, and
Defendant Saber Healthcare Group, LLC. The matter has been
fully briefed and is ripe for disposition.
worked at Julia Ribaudo Nursing Home from 1982 until 2014 as
a restorative/nurses' aide. (Doc. 37, Def. Stmt. of Mat.
Facts (“SOF”) ¶ 73). Plaintiff has a history of
medical problems, including asthma and cancer. She received
her diagnosis of bladder cancer in 2011. (Id.
¶ 75). Despite this diagnosis, plaintiff continued her
employment with the defendants. (Id. ¶ 73). She
remained employed by defendants for the next two years.
2012, Plaintiff took leave from work via the Family and
Medical Leave Act (hereinafter “FMLA”) from May
29, 2012 to June 25, 2012. (Id. ¶ 24). She
completed the necessary FMLA paperwork, and had the FMLA form
signed by her physician who indicated on the form that
plaintiff would not require intermittent leave. (Id.
following year, plaintiff missed a total of thirteen days
between April 2013 and April 2014. (Id. ¶ 22).
According to the call off calendar, which was reviewed by
Shelia Layo, an administrator at Julia Ribaudo, plaintiff
called in sick for various reasons including: foot pain; a
stress fracture in her foot; an upset GI; diarrhea and a
temperature; stomach cramps; a sore throat; dizziness; and a
common cold. (Id. ¶ 105). At some point prior
to April 2014, Layo spoke with plaintiff about her attendance
issues. (Id. at ¶ 5). The defendants claim that
during this meeting, plaintiff did not provide an explanation
for her numerous absences. (Id. ¶ 6).
have a company policy which states that termination may occur
when an employee accrues seven absences within a twelve month
rolling period. (Id. ¶ 18). After tallying
plaintiff's thirteen absences between April 2013 and
April 2014, defendants terminated plaintiff from her position
in accordance with company policy. (Id. ¶ 17).
The parties agree that none of the absences between April
2013 and April 2014 were formally designated as FMLA
qualifying absences, but dispute whether they qualify
regardless of the absent paperwork. (Id. ¶ 23).
plaintiff's termination meeting, Layo informed plaintiff
that she was being terminated for excessive call offs.
(Id. ¶ 38). In response, she told Layo that she
was sick, and asked Layo not to fire her. (Id.
¶ 39). Layo informed plaintiff that if she was sick she
should have taken FMLA leave and that she was going to have
to let plaintiff go. (Id. ¶ 40). Layo told
plaintiff that if she started feeling better, she could come
back and they would talk about her getting a position back.
upon these facts, plaintiff filed a three-count complaint on
November 19, 2015. The complaint raises the following causes
of action: Count I, interference and retaliation under the
FMLA; Count II, disability discrimination and failure to
accommodate pursuant to the Americans with Disabilities Act
(hereinafter “ADA”); and Count III, age
discrimination in contravention of the Age Discrimination in
Employment Act (hereinafter “ADEA”).
filed a motion to dismiss on February 22, 2016. On July 12,
2016, we dismissed Count III's wrongful termination claim
based upon the ADEA. Defendants filed the instant motion for
summary judgment on May 3, 2017 with respect to all remaining
claims. This motion is fully briefed and is ripe for
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 court jurisdiction over
civil actions brought to redress deprivations of
constitutional or statutory rights by way of damages or
summary judgment is proper 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 judgment as a matter of law. See Knabe v.
Boury, 114 F.3d 407, 410 n.4 (3d Cir. 1997) (citing
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)). “[T]his standard provides that the
mere existence of some alleged factual dispute
between the parties will not defeat an otherwise properly
supported motion for summary judgment; the requirement is
that there be no genuine issue of material
fact.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477
U.S. 242, 247-48 (1986) (emphasis in original).
considering a motion for summary judgment, the court must
examine the facts in the light most favorable to the party
opposing the motion. Int'l Raw Materials, Ltd. v.
Stauffer Chem. Co., 898 F.2d 946, 949 (3d Cir. 1990).
The burden is on the moving party to demonstrate that the
evidence is such that a reasonable jury could not return a
verdict for the non-moving party. Anderson, 477 U.S.
at 248 (1986). A fact is material when it might affect the
outcome of the suit under the governing law. Id.
Where the non-moving party will bear the burden of proof at
trial, the party moving for summary judgment may meet its
burden by establishing that the evidentiary materials of
record, if reduced to admissible evidence, would be
insufficient to carry the non-movant's burden of proof at
trial. Celotex v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986).
Once the moving party satisfies its burden, the burden shifts
to the nonmoving party, who must go beyond its pleadings, and
designate specific facts by the use of affidavits,
depositions, admissions, or answers to interrogatories
demonstrating that there is a genuine issue for trial.
Id. at 324.
noted above, plaintiff's complaint raises several
different causes of action, and the defendants seek summary
judgment on all counts. We shall address each count in turn.
I: FMLA Violations
brings both interference and retaliation claims pursuant to
the FMLA. The FMLA contains two distinct provisions
prohibiting employers from: (1) interfering with an
employee's exercise of her 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 v. Univ. of
Pittsburgh Med. Ctr., 691 F.3d 294, 301 (3d Cir. 2012);
Callison v. City of Phila., 430 F.3d 117, 119 (3d
Cir. 2005). We start our analysis with the FMLA interference
prove an FMLA interference claim, plaintiff must establish:
(1) she was an eligible employee under the FMLA; (2) the
defendants were an employer subject to the FMLA's
requirements; (3) she was entitled to FMLA leave; (4) she
provided notice to the defendants of her intention to take
FMLA leave; and (5) she was denied benefits to which she was
entitled under the FMLA. Ross v. ...