United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana
FINDINGS OF FACT AND CONCLUSIONS OF LAW
ZAINEY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
a civil action brought by plaintiff Bill Jones pursuant to
the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) against his
former employer, defendant New Orleans Regional Physician
Hospital Organization, Inc. d/b/a Peoples Health Network.
Jones alleges that Peoples Health terminated his employment
in retaliation for making an FLSA complaint.
case was tried to the Court sitting without a jury on October
15-16, 2019, as to the issue of liability only. Having
considered the testimony and evidence at trial, the
depositions submitted in lieu of live testimony, the
arguments of counsel, and applicable law, the Court now
enters the following Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law
in accordance with Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 52(a). To
the extent that any finding of fact may be construed as a
conclusion of law, the Court hereby adopts it as such. To the
extent that any conclusion of law constitutes a finding of
fact, the Court adopts it as such.
FINDINGS OF FACT
Health is an enterprise engaged in commerce that at all times
relevant had annual gross sales of at least $500, 000.00.
Jones started working for Peoples Health in March 2013 as a
Contracting Specialist in its Network Development Department.
Peoples Heath's Network Development Department is
responsible for establishing and maintaining a network of
health care providers who are willing and able to provide
services to its plan members. As a Contracting Specialist,
Jones's job duties included contacting health care
providers to attempt to recruit them to join the Peoples
Health's network, facilitating having those who were
interested join the network, and maintaining a relationship
with the providers who elected to and were approved to join
April 2015, Hunt Graham became Jones's immediate
supervisor. Graham reported to Anthony Bonck, an assistant
vice president with Peoples Health.
had a history of performance problems at Peoples Heath that
pre-dated the incidents that led to Jones's termination.
(Exhibits 1 - 13). These performance issues were not
17, 2016, Bonck and Graham met with Jones about those
problems. Ann Wolff from Human Resources was also present.
The meeting did not go well. Jones left work abruptly on May
18, 2016 without telling anyone and did not return for four
months. Peoples Health later discovered that on the day that
Jones walked out his voicemail box was full and contained 95
unreviewed messages. (Exhibit 13). The work files that Jones
left had little or no information in them. Jones used FMLA
leave from May 19, 2016 until September 2016, when he finally
returned to work.
Health was willing to continue with Jones's employment
and give him a “fresh start” going forward.
(Exhibit 17). Jones therefore avoided having to account for
the performance problems that had preceded his sudden,
unannounced departure. Graham was less sanguine about the
likelihood that Jones's performance problems would
improve once he returned to work. (Id.). In October
2016 Graham gave Jones a below average employee performance
review. (Exhibit 20).
never believed that his performance appraisals accurately
reflected his successes.
March 10, 2017, Jones's father suffered a stroke. As of
that time, Jones had exhausted his Family Medical Leave Act
time and all of his paid time off. On March 22, 2017, Jones
requested to work remotely 3-5 days per week during certain
weeks so that he could care for his father and continue to be
March 28, 2017, Bonck emailed Jones to confirm that Peoples
Health would allow him to work remotely and to outline
Peoples Health's expectations relating to the approved
remote work arrangement. (Exhibit 33 at 124). The specific
requirements for the remote work arrangement were drafted by
Anne Wolff with Human Resources. On April 23, 2017, Jones
confirmed his agreement to comply with Peoples Health's
expectations for the remote work arrangement. (Exhibit 24).