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Livas v. Teleperformance USA, INC.

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

June 19, 2018





         Before the Court is a motion for summary judgment [Record Document 17] filed by Defendant Teleperformance USA, Inc. ("TPUSA") seeking dismissal of Plaintiffs wrongful termination claims. TPUSA has produced evidence that Livas's repeated absences rendered her unqualified for her position and that enforcement of its no-show policy is a legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason for terminating her. [Record Document 17-2 at 14-18]. Plaintiffs sixty-five-word opposition adduces no countervailing evidence. [Record Document 19]. As a result, TPUSA's motion for summary judgment [Record Document 17] is GRANTED.

         I. Background

         Plaintiff April Livas ("Livas") began to work for TPUSA as a call center representative in November 2013. [Record Document 17-1 at 1]. Upon being hired, she was given access to TPUSA's employee handbook, which provides that "[r]egular, predictable, and reliable attendance is an essential component of each employee's job performance." [Record Documents 17-1 at 1 and 17-4 at 2]. Under TPUSA policy, an employee who does not appear for work and does not contact her supervisor within two hours of the beginning of her scheduled shift commits a "No Call/No Show" ("NCNS") violation, and two NCNS violations in a twelvemonth period may result in termination of employment. [Record Document 17-4 at 3].

         In order to treat her migraine headaches, Livas took full-time leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act ("FMLA") from February 11, 2015 to February 10, 2016. [Record Document 17-1 at 2]. In February 2016, she renewed her request for FMLA leave, but her physician certified that she needed leave "1 time per 3 months for 1 day per episode." [Record Documents 17-1 at 2 and 17-6 at 7]. After her new period of leave began on February 11, 2016, Livas missed a great deal of work. [Record Document 17-1 at 2-3]. Before she was terminated on April 12, 2016, Plaintiff missed seventeen days of work for a variety of reasons and was late two additional times. [Id. at 2-4]. TPUSA classified the first two missed days as FMLA leave. [Id. at 2]. Although Livas usually called TPUSA's employee attendance line to report her absences, she did not do so on March 25 and 26, 2016.[Id.]. She later texted a manager that she had been unable to call in because she had been incarcerated. [Id. at 3]. In light of these two NCNS events, TPUSA decided to terminate Livas's employment. [Id. at 2-3]. When Plaintiff next reported to work on April 12, 2016, she was informed that she had been terminated. [Id. at 3-4].[1]

         Following her termination, Livas's application for unemployment benefits was denied by the Louisiana Workforce Commission, which found that she had been discharged for misconduct. [Record Document 16 at 2]. On appeal, an administrative law judge (the "ALJ") reversed this determination because TPUSA did not participate in the hearing and thus did not sustain its burden of proving Livas's misconduct. [Id. at 3]. Livas also initiated proceedings before the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"), which issued a right-to-sue letter on August 3, 2017. [Record Document 1-2]. Following service and an answer, TPUSA filed the instant motion in accordance with this Court's scheduling order. [Record Documents 12 and 17]. Livas has responded, rendering this matter ripe for adjudication. [Record Document 19].

         II. Law and Analysis

         A. Summary Judgment Standard

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(a) directs a court to "grant summary judgment if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law."[2] Summary judgment is appropriate when the pleadings, answers to interrogatories, admissions, depositions, and affidavits on file indicate that there is no genuine issue of material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). When the burden at trial will rest on the non-moving party, the moving party need not produce evidence to negate the elements of the non-moving party's case; rather, it need only point out the absence of supporting evidence. See Id. at 322-23.

         If the movant satisfies its initial burden of showing that there is no genuine dispute of material fact, the nonmovant must demonstrate that there is, in fact, a genuine issue for trial by going "beyond the pleadings" and "designating] specific facts" for support. Little v. Liquid Air Corp., 37 F.3d 1069, 1075 (5th Or. 1994) (citing Celotex, 477 U.S. at 325). "This burden is not satisfied with some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts' by conclusory or unsubstantiated allegations, or by a mere "scintilla of evidence." Id. (internal quotation marks and citations omitted). However, "[t]he evidence of the non-movant is to be believed, and all justifiable inferences are to be drawn in his favor." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255 (1985) (citing Adickes v. S. H. Kress & Co., 398 U.S. 144, 158-59 (1970)). While notweighing the evidence or evaluating the credibility of witnesses, courts should grant summary judgment where the critical evidence in support of the nonmovant is so "weak or tenuous" that it could not support a judgment in the nonmovant's favor. Armstrong v. City of Dall, 997 F.2d 62, 67 (5th Cir. 1993).

         Additionally, Local Rule 56.1 requires the movant to file a statement of material facts as to which it "contends there is no genuine issue to be tried." The opposing party must then set forth a "short and concise statement of the material facts as to which there exists a genuine issue to be tried." W.D. La. R. 56.2. All material facts set forth in the movant's statement "will be deemed admitted, for purposes of the motion, unless controverted as required by this rule." Id.

         B. ADA Standard

         Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA") prohibits employers from discriminating against persons with disabilities. 42 U.S.C. §§ 12111-12117 (2012). The ADA defines a disability as a "physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities . . .; a record of such an impairment; or being regarded as having such an impairment." 42 U.S.C. § 12102(1) (2012). Because Congress has instructed courts to construe these definitions as broadly as possible, id. § 12102(4)(A), the "threshold issue of whether an impairment 'substantially limits' a major life activity should not demand extensive analysis'' 29 C.F.R. § 1630.2(j)(1)(iii) (2017). To be protected by the AD A, an employee with a disability must be "qualified'' that is, able to perform the essential functions of her position either with or without accommodations. 42 U.S.C. § 12111(8). Although courts must give weight to an ...

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