United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania
INTERNATIONAL BROTHERHOOD OF ELECTRICAL WORKERS LOCAL 1600, Plaintiff,
PPL ELECTRIC UTILITIES CORPORATION, Defendant. ALICIA WATKINSON, Plaintiff,
PPL ELECTRIC UTILITIES CORPORATION, Defendant.
PLAINTIFF LOCAL 1600'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT, NO.
4675, ECF NO. 18-DENIED DEFENDANT PPL'S MOTION FOR
SUMMARY JUDGMENT, NO. 4675, ECF NO. 19-GRANTED PLAINTIFF
WATKINSON'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT, NO. 4676, ECF
NO. 17-DENIED DEFENDANT PPL'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY
JUDGMENT, NO. 4676, ECF NO. 18-GRANTED
F. LEESON, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
two consolidated cases involve a challenge to an
employer's leave policy under the Family and Medical
Leave Act (FMLA), 29 U.S.C. §§ 2611-2654. PPL
Electric Utilities Corporation requires all employees taking
sick leave to call their supervisor on the day leave is
required. If an employee is using FMLA leave, though, she
must make a three- to five-minute phone call to a third party
administrator in addition to calling her supervisor. This
Court must decide whether this arrangement violates the FMLA.
It concludes that it does not.
Alicia Watkinson is an employee of Defendant PPL Electric
Utilities Corporation who failed to call the third-party
administrator on several days when she wanted to take FMLA
leave. As a result, PPL denied her requests for FMLA leave.
Watkinson brought suit contending that PPL's policy
violates FMLA regulations and interferes with her rights
under the FMLA. Plaintiff International Brotherhood of
Electrical Workers Local 1600 is the union to which Watkinson
belongs, which brought a grievance on her behalf challenging
the denial of FMLA leave. The grievance was resolved by
arbitration, and the arbitrator dismissed the grievance.
Local 1600 brought suit to set aside the arbitration award,
arguing that because the award upheld a PPL policy that
violates FMLA regulations, it is manifestly contrary to
federal law. Furthermore, the union argues that the
arbitrator's finding that the policy contains an
exception for unusual circumstances was not supported by the
record. PPL cross-moved for summary judgment.
Court concludes that the FMLA regulations do not prohibit an
additional requirement for giving notice of FMLA leave, and
that PPL's policy does not otherwise violate the FMLA.
Furthermore, the PPL policy contains an exception for unusual
circumstances, but Watkinson has not established that unusual
circumstances prevented her from complying with the call-in
requirement on the dates in question. Therefore, PPL did not
interfere with her rights under the FMLA. Because PPL's
policy comports with the FMLA and does in fact contain an
unusual circumstances exception, the arbitration award was
proper. This Court therefore denies both plaintiffs'
motions for summary judgment and enters summary judgment in
favor of PPL.
instant cases were consolidated on December 20, 2016. ECF No.
13 (No. 4675); ECF No. 12 (No. 4676).
1600 v. PPL: No. 4675
1600 filed its complaint against PPL on August 29, 2016. ECF
No. 1. Local 1600 filed its motion for summary judgment, ECF
No. 18, on May 1, 2017, and PPL filed its motion for summary
judgment on the same day. ECF No. 19. Local 1600 filed its
opposition on May 15, 2017, ECF No. 21, as did PPL. ECF No.
v. PPL: No. 4676
filed her complaint against PPL on August 29, 2016. ECF No.
1. Watkinson filed her motion for summary judgment, ECF No.
17, on May 1, 2017, and PPL filed its motion for summary
judgment on the same day. ECF No. 18. Watkinson filed her
opposition on May 15, 2017, ECF No. 20, as did PPL. ECF No.
a public utility company that provides electricity to
residential and commercial customers in Pennsylvania.
Def.'s Statement of Material Facts (SMF) ¶ 1, ECF
No. 19-2; Pl.'s Response to Def.'s Statement of
Material Facts (RMF) ¶ 1, ECF No. 23. Watkinson works
for PPL as a customer service representative in its office in
Scranton, Pennsylvania,  and belongs to Plaintiff International
Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 1600. Def.'s SMF
¶ 2; Pl.'s RMF ¶ 2. Local 1600 and PPL are
parties to a collective bargaining agreement (CBA) that
governs the terms and conditions of Watkinson's
employment. Def.'s SMF ¶ 3; Pl.'s RMF ¶ 3.
received approval for intermittent FMLA leave in 2015.
Pl.'s Statement of Material Facts (SMF) ¶ 1, ECF No.
18; Def.'s SMF ¶ 27. PPL uses Sedgwick, a third
party administrator, to manage FMLA leave for PPL employees;
PPL's FMLA leave policy requires employees using
intermittent FMLA leave to contact both their supervisor and
Sedgwick on the day they take leave. Pl.'s SMF
¶¶ 4-5; Def.'s SMF ¶¶ 4, 10, 19.
Employees taking regular sick leave must only call their
supervisor. Pl.'s SMF ¶ 15; Def.'s SMF ¶
10. A call to Sedgwick takes between three and five minutes.
Def.'s SMF ¶ 14; Pl.'s RMF ¶ 14.
13, 2015, Watkinson advised her supervisor that she needed to
leave early, referencing FMLA time, and left to go home.
Pl.'s SMF ¶ 3; Def.'s SMF ¶ 46. Watkinson
drove herself home, a twenty- to thirty-minute trip on the
highway. Def.'s SMF ¶ 50; Pl.'s RMF ¶ 50.
As of July 13, 2015, Watkinson had been informed that she
needed to call Sedgwick on the day she took leave, and had
previously had leave requests denied when she did not call
Sedgwick as required. Pl.'s SMF ¶ 10; Def.'s SMF
¶¶ 30, 31. However, Watkinson did not call Sedgwick
to report her FMLA absence on July 13, 2015, and as a result,
PPL denied her request for FMLA leave for that day and
recorded an unexcused absence on her record. Pl.'s SMF
¶¶ 12-13; Def.'s SMF ¶¶ 30-31, 48,
53; Pl.'s RMF ¶ 53. Watkinson contends that on July
13 and the other days she did not call Sedgwick, she was too
“incoherent” to call; by “incoherent”
she means that her anxiety became so great that her mind was
“ruminating” and ...