United States District Court, W.D. Oklahoma
KENNETH D. PETERSON, Plaintiff,
WHB TRANSPORTATION, L.L.C. and WH BRAUM, INC., Defendants.
TIMOTHY D. DeGIUSTI, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Kenneth Peterson (“Peterson”) contends Defendants
violated the Family Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”),
29 U.S.C. § 2601 et seq., by interfering with
his right to take medical leave and retaliating against him
for taking said leave. Before the Court is Defendants'
Motion for Summary Judgment [Doc. No. 37]. Plaintiff filed
his response in opposition [Doc. No. 39] and Defendants
replied [Doc. No. 42]. Later, upon leave from the Court,
Plaintiff filed a surreply [Doc. No. 49] to which Defendants
filed their response [Doc. No. 53]. The matter is fully
briefed and at issue.
following material facts are either uncontroverted, deemed
admitted, or, where disputed, viewed in the light most
favorable to Peterson. Immaterial facts, facts not properly
supported by the record, and legal arguments or conclusions
about March 3, 1992, Peterson was hired as a full-time
employee by Braum's Warehouse as a dockworker, where his
main duty was unloading trucks. His supervisor at the time
was Barry Templeman. Peterson resigned four years later, but
was rehired shortly thereafter, on July 9, 1997, to work on
the loading dock and in the warehouse. On May 8, 2003,
Peterson began employment with Braum's Trucking as a
truck driver, where his manager and supervisor was Scott
Depee. Peterson was designated as an “extra
board” driver for Braum's Trucking, which meant he
did not have a designated truck route and only filled in for
drivers that were absent from work. Peterson would later
became a full-time driver for Braum's Trucking.
safety reasons, Peterson was subjected to routine medical
examinations by the Oklahoma Department of Transportation
(“ODOT”). In 2011, Peterson informed the ODOT
medical examiner that he suffered from
depression. Faced with this knowledge, Depee was
nevertheless unconcerned about Peterson's ability to
drive and Peterson, indeed, continued to drive trucks for
6, 2013, Peterson admitted himself to the hospital because he
was experiencing, in his words, “mental issues”
that included road rage and depression. Peterson stated he
was also having suicidal and homicidal thoughts of driving
his truck into oncoming traffic. Peterson was discharged from
the hospital on July 12, 2013, but did not immediately return
to work because he did not feel safe driving. On July 29,
2013, Peterson experienced recurring depression and suicidal
thoughts and readmitted himself to the hospital; he was
discharged on August 9, 2013. Again, Peterson did not
immediately return to work following his discharge because he
was (1) fearful of driving a truck; (2) unsure if he could
return to truck driving; (3) apprehensive about finding a new
line of work; and (4) burned out on truck driving.
result of his hospitalizations, Peterson submitted a request
for FMLA leave, citing “major depression” as the
reason for the request. Peterson also told Depee he was
experiencing “mental issues.” After returning
from leave, Peterson asked Depee to be reassigned to the
warehouse so he could adjust to his medications and Depee
granted the request. However, transfers within Braum's
departments are permanent, and Peterson's transfer
resulted in him receiving less pay. Depee, however, did not
inform Peterson of either consequences beforehand. Peterson
also asked Templeman if he could return to truck driving, but
Templeman said Peterson was not ready. Later, Peterson asked
Depee one time if he could drive again, but Depee was
noncommittal. Neither party requested a medical examination
to determine if Peterson was medically fit to operate a truck
resigned two years later, on July 31, 2015. He testified he
had already secured other employment at the time of his
resignation and would have continued to work in the warehouse
if his current employer had not hired him. To date, he does
not know why he was not reinstated as a truck driver.
judgment is proper if, viewing the evidence in the light most
favorable to the non-moving party, there is no genuine
dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to
judgment as a matter of law.” Patel v. Hall,
849 F.3d 970, 978 (10th Cir. 2017) (citing Peterson v.
Martinez, 707 F.3d 1197, 1207 (10th Cir. 2013)). The
substantive law will identify which facts are material; only
disputes over facts that might affect the outcome of the suit
under the governing law will properly preclude the entry of
summary judgment. Equal Employment Opportunity Comm'n
v. BNSF Railway Co., 853 F.3d 1150, 1155 (10th Cir.
Court's function at the summary judgment stage is not to
weigh the evidence and determine the truth of the matter
asserted, but to determine whether there is a genuine issue
for trial. Birch v. Polaris Indus., Inc., 812 F.3d
1238, 1251 (10th Cir. 2015); In re Convergent Tech. Sec.
Litig., 948 F.2d 507, 512 (9th Cir. 1991) (“A
motion for summary judgment is not meant to precipitate a
mini-trial before the real trial begins. However, summary
judgment may be granted ‘unless there is sufficient
evidence favoring the non-moving party for a jury to return a
verdict for that party.'”) (quoting Anderson v.
Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 249 (1986)). An issue
is “genuine” if there is sufficient evidence on
each side so that a rational trier of fact could resolve the
issue either way. Adler v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.,
144 F.3d 664, 670 (10th Cir. 1998). An issue of fact is
“material” if under the substantive law it is
essential to the proper disposition of the claim.
the moving party has met its burden, the burden shifts to the
nonmoving party to present sufficient evidence in specific,
factual form to establish a genuine factual dispute.
Bacchus Indus., Inc. v. Arvin Indus., Inc., 939 F.2d
887, 891 (10th Cir. 1991). The nonmoving party may not rest
upon the mere allegations or denials of its pleadings.
Rather, it must go beyond the pleadings and establish,
through admissible evidence, that there is a genuine issue ...