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Smith v. University health Shreveport, LLC

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

February 25, 2019




          Mark L. Hornsby U.S. Magistrate Judge


         Dana Smith (“Plaintiff”) was employed as a clinical nurse supervisor at a Shreveport hospital operated by BRFHH Shreveport, LLC. She filed this action against her employer for violations of Title VII, the Family Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”) and state law claims. Before the court is Defendant's Motion for Partial Dismissal (Doc. 8) that attacks Plaintiff's claims for FMLA interference and related retaliation.

         Plaintiff responded to the motion by filing a Second Amended Complaint, and Defendant concedes that the amendment cured its objections to the FMLA retaliation claim. The only issue remaining is whether Plaintiff's amended complaint is adequate to state a claim for FMLA interference on which relief may be granted. For the reasons that follow, it is recommended that Defendant's motion be denied.

         Relevant Allegations

         Plaintiff alleged in her Second Amended Complaint (Doc. 17) that she was employed as a clinical nurse supervisor and had an excellent record. Mr. Stephen Beaudion became her immediate director in 2015 and began sexually harassing her. Plaintiff's allegations of harassment include inappropriate comments, Beaudion forcing his hand down Plaintiff's pants and otherwise trying to force himself on her, Beaudion exposing his penis and asking for oral sex on two occasions, and other reprehensible behavior. Plaintiff alleges that she complained of the sexual harassment, after which Mr. Beaudion was removed from directly supervising her. He was, however, still a director of other departments and friends with Plaintiff's current supervisor and other coworkers. Plaintiff alleges that she has been subjected to extensive retaliation regarding her work schedule, job assignments, training, and other aspects of her work.

         Plaintiff's allegations with respect to the FMLA are found in paragraphs 38-40. She alleges that her father passed away in August 2018, and on August 29, 2018 she put in a request for FMLA leave to treat major depression and complicated grieving. She got no response, so she called human resources on September 7, 2018 and discovered that her request had been denied for a clerical error by the physician who completed some paperwork in connection with the leave request. The physician's form was not dated and did not indicate a treatment date.

         Plaintiff later received a letter in the mail on September 12, 2018 that alerted her to the deficiency. She immediately obtained a properly completed physician form and resubmitted her FMLA request. The request was approved. Plaintiff complains that Defendant did not comply with the notice requirements of the FMLA during the processing of her claim. She alleges that this caused her prejudice because she was denied the opportunity to make informed decisions about her leave options. She also contends that it resulted in Defendant wrongfully calculating and designating her available FMLA hours, which resulted in Defendant wrongfully terminating her insurance benefits (which she discovered when she attempted to fill a prescription at a pharmacy).

         Rule 12(b)(6)

         A defendant may challenge a complaint by filing a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). In assessing the motion, the court must accept as true all well-pleaded facts in the complaint and view those facts in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. In re Katrina Canal Breaches Litigation, 495 F.3d 191, 205 (5th Cir. 2007). “To survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, a complaint ‘does not need detailed factual allegations,' but must provide the plaintiff's grounds for entitlement to relief-including factual allegations that when assumed to be true ‘raise a right to relief above the speculative level.'” Cuvillier v. Taylor, 503 F.3d 397, 401 (5th Cir. 2007), quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 1964-65 (2007).

         FMLA Requirements

         “The FMLA requires a covered employer to allow an eligible employee up to twelve weeks of unpaid leave if the employee suffers from ‘a serious health condition that makes the employee unable to perform the functions of the position of such employee.' ” Hunt v. Rapides Healthcare Sys., LLC, 277 F.3d 757, 763 (5th Cir. 2001) (quoting 29 U.S.C. § 2612(a)(1)(D)). To ensure employees the right to take leave, the FMLA prohibits an employer from “interfere[ing] with, restrain[ing], or deny[ing] the exercise of or the attempt to exercise, any right” provided by the Act. 29 U.S.C. § 2615(a)(1). Plaintiff ...

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