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Anderson v. Martin

United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Lake Charles Division

September 23, 2019

LARRY ANDERSON, JR.
v.
ROY O. MARTIN

          KAY, MAGISTRATE JUDGE

          MEMORANDUM RULING

          KATHLEEN KAY, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Before the court is a Motion for Summary Judgment filed by defendant MARTCO, L.L.C[1');">1" name="FN1');">1" id= "FN1');">1">1');">1] (hereafter “Martco”). Doc. 1');">17. The motion is opposed by plaintiff Larry Anderson, Jr. Doc. 27. For the reasons stated below, the motion is GRANTED.

         I. Background

         On March 5, 201');">18, plaintiff filed suit in this court alleging that his employer, Martco, had terminated him on March 6, 201');">17, in violation of “[t]he Family and Medical Leave Act of 1');">1993 and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1');">1964.” Doc. 1');">1, p. 1');">1. Specifically, he alleges the termination was retaliation because he took his mother to the doctor on March 1');">1, 201');">17. Id. Martco denied the claims and maintained that plaintiff was terminated for “legitimate, non-discriminatory, non-retaliatory business reasons, entirely void of discriminatory or retaliatory motive, intent, or effect.” Doc. 4, p. 1');">1. Martco also answered that plaintiff “failed to meet the requirements for asserting any claim under the Family and Medical Leave Act . . . .” Id.

         On March 6, 201');">19 Martco filed the instant Motion for Summary Judgment seeking dismissal of plaintiff’s claims. Doc. 1');">17. Martco reurges its defenses that plaintiff’s absence on March 1');">1, 201');">17, was not covered under the Family Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”) [id. at att. 1');">1, pp. 21');">1-24] and that he has provided no factual basis to support his claim for discrimination under Title VII. Id. at 6. Although not apparent from plaintiff’s complaint, it appears from attachments provided by the defendant that, prior to filing suit in this court, plaintiff filed a claim against Martco with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) charging Martco with employment discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act (Title VII). Doc. 1');">17, att. 4, pp. 97-98. However, defendants allege that plaintiff’s instant complaint is preempted because it is broader than this EEOC filing. Doc. 1');">17, att. 1');">1, p. 33.

         In response to defendant’s Motion for Summary Judgment, plaintiff filed a motion pursuant to Rule 56(d) seeking to defer or dismiss defendant’s motion until discovery was complete. Doc. 1');">19. The motion was granted [doc. 24] and plaintiff was allowed to engage in discovery before filing his opposition. Doc. 25. On June 1');">12, 201');">19, plaintiff filed his opposition asserting that his leave was covered under the FMLA and that an issue of material fact exists as to whether or not his termination was racially motivated. Doc. 27, att. 1');">1, pp. 8-9.

         II. Law and Analysis

         A motion for summary judgment should be granted when “the movant shows that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56. A dispute is genuine “only if a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party.” Fordoche, Inc. v. Texaco Inc., 463 F.3d 388, 392 (5th Cir. 2006). “Under Rule 56, summary judgment must be entered against ‘a party who fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party’s case, and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial.’” Baton Rouge Oil & Chem. Workers Union v. ExxonMobil Corp., 289 F.3d 373, 375-76 (5th Cir. 2002) (quoting Little v. Liquid Air Corp., 37 F.3d 1');">1069, 1');">1075 (5th Cir. 1');">1994)). When ruling on a motion for summary judgment the district court draws all reasonable inferences in favor of the nonmoving party. Coury v. Moss, 529 F.3d 579, 584 (5th Cir. 2008). However, a plaintiff’s mere beliefs, conclusory allegations, speculation, or unsubstantiated assertions are insufficient to survive summary judgment. See, e.g., Clark v. Am.’s Favorite Chicken Co., 1');">11');">10 F.3d 295');">1');">11');">10 F.3d 295, 297 (5th Cir. 1');">1997) (citation omitted).

         Plaintiff alleges his termination was discriminatory retaliation for taking FMLA leave, or alternatively, that he suffered racial discrimination under Title VII. Doc. 1');">1. These claims are analyzed under a substantially the same framework and can be proven through either direct or circumstantial evidence. See Chaffin v. John H. Carter Co., Inc., 1');">179 F.3d 31');">16, 31');">19 (5th Cir. 1');">1999) (noting that “there is no significant difference between such claims under the FMLA and similar claims under other anti-discrimination laws.”). “If a plaintiff only offers circumstantial evidence then the modified McDonnell Douglas burden-shifting framework applies.” Wallace v. Seton Family of Hospitals, 201');">19 WL 2484692, at *3 (5th Cir. 201');">19). Under the modified McDonnell Douglas approach,

the plaintiff must first demonstrate a prima facie case of discrimination; the defendant then must articulate a legitimate, non-discriminatory reason for its decision to terminate the plaintiff; and, if the defendant meets its burden of production, the plaintiff must then offer sufficient evidence to create a genuine issue of material fact that either (1');">1) the employer's reason is a pretext or (2) that the employer's reason, while true, is only one of the reasons for its conduct, and another “motivating factor” is the plaintiff's protected characteristic.

Burrell v. Dr. Pepper/Seven Up Bottling Group, Inc., 482 F.3d 408, 41');">11');">1-1');">12 (5th Cir. 2007) (citing Rachid v. Jack In The Box, Inc., 376 F.3d 305, 31');">12 (5th Cir. 2004)).

         A. FMLA Claims

         In order to establish a prima facie claim of discriminatory retaliation for taking FMLA leave an employee must show: “1');">1) he was protected under the FMLA; 2) he suffered an adverse employment action; and 3) he was treated less favorably than an employee who had not requested leave under the FMLA or the adverse decision was made because he sought protection under the FMLA.” Mauder v. Metro. Transit Auth. Of Harris Cty., Tex.,446 F.3d 574, 583 (5th Cir. 2006). The first element requires the employee to show “he gave proper notice of his intention to take FMLA leave.” Caldwell v. KHOU-TV, 850 F.3d 237, 245 (5th ...


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