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McElroy v. PHM Corporation

United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Monroe Division

November 21, 2014



ROBERT G. JAMES, District Judge.

This is an employment discrimination case brought by Plaintiff Brenda L. McElroy ("McElroy") against her former employer, Defendant PHM Corporation ("PHM"). McElroy asserts a claim of race discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ("Title VII"), 42 U.S.C. § 2000e, et seq., and a claim under the Family and Medical Leave Act ("FMLA"), 29 U.S.C. § 2601, et seq.

Pending before the Court is a Motion for Summary Judgment [Doc. No. 23] filed by PHM. McElory filed a Memorandum in Opposition to Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment. [Doc. No. 27]. PHM filed a Reply Memorandum [Doc. No. 28].

For the following reasons, PHM's motion is GRANTED, and McElory's claims are DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE.


PHM is a Monroe, Louisiana-based company which manages commercial properties, including two long-term care facilities, The Guest House and The Oaks. The Oaks is a facility which provides long-term care and nursing services in a home-like environment. In May, 2011, The Oaks had 127 residents.

McElroy, who is African-American, began working for PHM in March of 2007 and became a full-time van driver for The Oaks one month later.

In June 2007, she was transferred to a position in Activities with a concurrent pay increase from $6.50 to $7.00 per hour. PHM characterizes the transfer as a promotion and identifies her job title as Assistant Activities Director. However, McElroy points out that she was referred to as an Activities Director in personnel records.

In her new position, McElroy's duties included planning and supervising activities for the memory loss (or Alzheimer's) unit at The Oaks, [1] also known as Eden Place. This unit had approximately 15-20 beds. McElroy also assisted with other activities for residents in the general population. The Activities Director, Regina White (who is Caucasian), planned activities for all The Oaks residents, approximately 100 persons, including those in the Alzheimer's unit. Prior to McElroy's transfer to the Activities position, White planned and supervised all resident activities. Activities included daily exercise, games, social events, multi-denominational church services, field trips, dances, monthly birthday parties, and in-room activities.

Following her transfer to Activities, McElroy received two additional annual pay increases. By May, 2009, McElroy's pay had increased to $8.75 per hour[2] and remained at that hourly rate until the end of her employment. White was paid $10.00 per hour.

In December 2010, McElroy began experiencing heavy bleeding and severe cramping during her menstrual cycle. She made appointments with her physician in February 2011 to discuss the condition. Although she rescheduled twice because of work, she was able to see her physician on February 24, 2011. That same week, McElroy's supervisor, Administrator Megan Terrell ("Terrell"), a Caucasion, allowed her to take two days off from work because of her condition.[3] McElroy was paid for those days, and her absences were excused. She returned to work on Monday, February 28, 2011.

Although Terrell was the Administrator at The Oaks, she reported to Dena LaBorde (who is Caucasian), PHM's Director of Operations. On Tuesday, March 1, 2011, LaBorde was at The Oaks to conduct a facility audit for survey readiness, which was necessary for licensing and accreditation purposes. McElroy arrived at work that morning around 9:00 a.m. LaBorde saw McElroy near the facility's back entrance, and they briefly spoke. At that time, McElroy was in good spirits and mentioned that she had gotten a good price on several king cakes that she purchased on her way into work for a Mardi Gras party.

Later that morning, however, McElroy began experiencing menstrual cramping and bleeding. Some time around noon, McElroy entered Terrell's office, but found only LaBorde present. McElroy told LaBorde that she was not feeling well and needed to go home. McElroy claims that LaBorde agreed she should go home. However, it is undisputed that LaBorde said that Terrell would be returning to the office shortly, indicating that McElroy should discuss the situation with her. At some point, McElroy and LaBorde talked about whether McElroy should take or had taken some type of over-the-counter pain medication. LaBorde also suggested that McElroy put her feet up.[4]

After Terrell returned, she and McElroy also discussed McElroy's condition. LaBorde was present only for the first few minutes when McElroy told Terrell that she was having cramps and bleeding[5] and asked to go home. After LaBorde left the office, McElroy and Terrell continued talking. It is undisputed that Terrell asked McElroy to remain until 3:00 p.m., when the audit would be completed. Terrell testified that she asked McElroy to "hang in there" until 3:00 p.m. when the survey was scheduled to end. According to Terrell, she was trying to encourage McElroy by telling her to "smile" and return to her unit. McElroy testified that she told Terrell that she was weak from heavy bleeding and needed to leave, but Terrell would not give her permission to leave before 3:00 p.m. McElroy testifies and declares that Terrell told her that if she left to go to the doctor that she would not have a job when she got back. [Doc. No. 23, McElroy Depo., p. 106; Doc. No. 27, Exh. 1]. McElroy recalls Terrell saying that she should "pin a smile on her face" and go "do your job." [Doc. No. 23, McElroy Depo., p. 106].

Although McElroy returned to work, her heavy bleeding continued and caused staining on her pants. McElroy returned to Terrell's office, but saw Terrell close the blinds as she approached. McElroy contends that the door was locked, and no one answered when she knocked.[6]

McElroy believed that she would be disobeying a direct order if she left, but felt that she could not remain in public. Therefore, at approximately 1:40 p.m., [7] McElroy went to Tamika Butler ("Butler"), the Human Resources Representative, and told her that she did not feel well. McElroy gave Butler a letter for Terrell and then left work without speaking to LaBorde or Terrell again. After leaving, McElroy went to her physician's office for treatment for cramps and menstrual bleeding.

At approximately 3:00 p.m., Terrell received and reviewed the letter from McElroy. The letter stated: "This is a notice of resignation, date effective now. Thanks for the opportunity to work for you." [Doc. No. 23, McElroy Depo., [8]p. 49 and Exh. 9]. At the ...

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