United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana
ORDER AND REASONS
ANN VIAL LEMMON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
IS HEREBY ORDERED that plaintiff's
Motion for Partial Summary Judgment (Rec.
Doc. 22) is DENIED.
was employed for seven years as an Office Assistant II in the
special Education Department of the Tangipahoa Parish School
Board ("TPSB"). In 2011, she was diagnosed with
Bipolar Affective Disorder. Beginning in the 2013-2014 school
year, plaintiff began struggling with attendance issues. In
April 2014, in a meeting to discuss plaintiff's absences
and tardiness with Cheryl Braud, the Director of Special
Education, Ronald Genco, the Director of Human Resources, and
Thomas Bellavia, the Assistant Superintendent of Human
Resources, plaintiff informed defendants of her bipolar
disorder and explained that the absences and tardiness were
related to her bipolar disorder.
15, 2015, plaintiff wrote a letter to Bellavia requesting two
accommodations for her disability, a modification to the TPSB
leave policy, permitting Smith to have flexible, unpaid
leave, and a transfer to a different position. Included with
the letter was a letter from her physician indicating that
because of her diagnosis, which involved periods of acute
worsening of symptoms, she would intermittently need time off
of work, sometimes with little or no prior notice. According
to TPSB, a different position was not available, but it
accommodated her by allowing her to leave with little or no
prior notice as needed for symptoms associated with the
bipolar diagnosis. Also according to TPSB, with this
accommodation, plaintiff was able to perform the essential
functions of her job.
the accommodation, TPSB contends that during the 2016-2017
school year, plaintiff was absent for all or part of a day on
43 occasions. Plaintiff does not dispute that only 11 or 12
of the 43 absences were related to her bipolar disorder.
11, 2017, plaintiff was terminated for excessive absences,
failure to adequately notify her supervisor of planned
absences, and failure to properly input important data. On
July 11, 2018, plaintiff filed the instant suit, asserting
claims under the Family and Medical Leave Act, 29 U.S.C.
§ 2601, et seq. (“FMLA”), the
Federal Rehabilitation Act, 29 U.S.C. § 701, et
seq. (“FRA”), and the Louisiana Employment
Discrimination Law, La. R.S. 23:301, et seq.
(“LEDL”). In the instant motion, plaintiff seeks
partial summary judgment on liability for her FMLA claim.
of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides that the
"court shall 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."
Granting a motion for summary judgment is proper if the
pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories,
admissions on file, and affidavits filed in support of the
motion demonstrate that there is no genuine issue as to any
material fact that the moving party is entitled to judgment
as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a); Anderson v.
Liberty Lobby, Inc., 106 S.Ct. 2505, 2509-10 (1986). In
determining whether there is a dispute as to a material fact,
the court considers all of the evidence in the record and
draws all reasonable inferences in favor of the nonmoving
party, but does not make credibility determinations or weigh
the evidence. Reeves v. Sanderson Plumbing Prods.,
Inc., 120 S.Ct. 2097, 2110 (2000).
the FMLA, an eligible employee with a “serious health
condition that makes the employee unable to perform the
functions of the position of such employee” is entitled
to up to twelve weeks of medical leave. 29 U.S.C. §
2612(a)(1)(D). The FMLA, in what is sometimes called the
"interference clause," also makes it unlawful for
an employer to interfere with, restrain, or deny the exercise
of or the attempt to exercise, any right under the FMLA. 29
U.S.C. § 2615(a)(1). "The failure to notify an
employee of her rights under the FMLA can constitute
interference if it affects the employee's rights under
the FMLA.” Burnette v. Rategenius Loan Servs.,
2016 WL 3004671, at *2 (W.D. Tex. May 23, 2016),
aff'd, 671 Fed.Appx. 889 (5th Cir.
2016)(internal citations and quotations omitted).
case, plaintiff claims that defendant interfered with her
exercise of her FMLA rights, because she effectively provided
notice to TPSB on at least six occasions of her need for
leave, which should have triggered TPSB to provide required
FMLA eligibility notices, FMLA rights and responsibilities
notices, and FMLA designation notices. See 29 C.F.R.