Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Miles v. American Red Cross

United States District Court, N.D. Oklahoma

November 15, 2017

ASHAWNA D. MILES, Plaintiff,
v.
AMERICAN RED CROSS, also known as AMERICAN RED CROSS SOUTHWEST BLOOD SERVICES REGION, Defendant.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          GREGGRY K. FRIZZELL, CHIEF JUDGE. UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT

         This matter comes before the court on the Motion to Dismiss the Amended Complaint or Alternatively for Summary Judgment [Doc. #20] filed by defendant American Red Cross. In her Amended Complaint, plaintiff Ashawna D. Miles asserts interference and retaliation claims under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). In response to the present motion, Miles argues the Amended Complaint also articulates theories of recovery for promissory estoppel and breach of contract. The Red Cross seeks dismissal of Miles's Amended Complaint pursuant to Fed R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. In the alternative, it seeks summary judgment on Miles's claims and has presented matters outside the pleadings.

         The court declines to consider matters outside of the pleadings, and will treat the Red Cross's motion as a motion to dismiss pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). For the reasons set forth below, the motion is denied in part, and granted in part.

         I. Legal Standard

         In considering a motion to dismiss under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), a court must determine whether the plaintiff has stated a claim upon which relief can be granted. A complaint must contain “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). The plausibility requirement “does not impose a probability requirement at the pleading stage; it simply calls for enough fact to raise a reasonable expectation that discovery will reveal evidence” of the conduct necessary to make out the claim. Id. at 556. “[A] plaintiff's obligation to provide the grounds of his entitlement to relief requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.” Id. at 555 (quotations omitted). The court “must determine whether the complaint sufficiently alleges facts supporting all the elements necessary to establish an entitlement to relief under the legal theory proposed.” Lane v. Simon, 495 F.3d 1182, 1186 (10th Cir. 2007) (quoting Forest Guardians v. Forsgren, 478 F.3d 1149, 1160 (10th Cir. 2007)).

         II. Analysis

         a. Interference Based on Work Performed While on Leave

         Miles alleges she was employed by the Red Cross in 2014 when she suffered an injury to her left arm and shoulder. She further alleges the Red Cross interfered with FMLA medical leave she took from September 3, 2014 to mid-December 2014 by having her continue to work and perform more than de minimis tasks and assignments. [Doc. #19, p. 9]. The Red Cross argues this claim is time barred.

         The FMLA provides two limitations periods. In general, an action may be brought not later than two years after the date of the last event constituting the alleged violation for which the action is brought. 29 U.S.C. § 2617(c)(1). However, an action for a willful violation may be brought within three years of the date of the last event constituting the alleged violation. 29 U.S.C. § 2617(c)(2). This three-year limitations period applies when the employer knew or showed reckless disregard for whether its conduct was prohibited by the FMLA. Bass v. Potter, 522 F.3d 1098, 1104 (10th Cir. 2008) (quoting McLaughlin v. Richland Shoe Co., 486 U.S. 128, 133 (1988)).

         Miles allegedly performed work while on FMLA leave more than two years-but less than three years-before she filed this action on January 11, 2017.

         The Red Cross contends Miles's claim is time barred because she has not adequately alleged a willful violation. However, Miles alleges that the Red Cross-through its Oklahoma Collections Manager, Oklahoma H.R. Representative, and other supervisors-knew Miles continued to perform her job during her FMLA leave. Miles further alleges the Red Cross knew, or acted with reckless disregard for whether, its conduct would violate the FMLA by interfering with her FMLA leave by virtue of the Collection Manager and H.R. Representative's experience and education. [Doc. #19, pp. 8-9 ¶ 26].

         The court concludes Miles has sufficiently alleged that the Red Cross knew or showed reckless disregard for whether its alleged interference was prohibited by the FMLA, a willful violation to which the three-year limitations period applies. Thus, Miles has adequately pled willful FMLA interference based on the work the Red Cross allegedly had Miles perform while on FMLA leave from September 3, 2014 to mid-December 2014.

         b. Interference Based on Designation of Leave

         Miles also alleges that, from September 3, 2014 to mid-December 2014, the Red Cross designated her medical leave as FMLA leave in order to preclude Miles from subsequently taking FMLA leave from mid-December 2014 to March 1, 2015. The court construes these allegations as an involuntary leave FMLA interference claim.[1]

         “The Tenth Circuit has not formally adopted an ‘involuntary leave' type of interference claim.” Jackson v. J.R. Simplot Co., No. 15-CV-0112-NDF, 2016 WL 9108040, at *8 (D. Wyo. Apr. 21, 2016). However, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals has recognized that an involuntary leave FMLA interference claim may exist “when an employer forces an employee to take FMLA leave when the employee does not have a ‘serious health condition' that precludes her from working.” Wysong v. Dow Chem. Co., 503 F.3d 441, 449 (6th Cir. 2007). An involuntary leave FMLA interference claim “ripens only when and if the employee seeks FMLA leave at a later date, and such leave is not available because the employee was wrongfully forced to use FMLA leave in the past.” Id. (emphasis added). See also Huffman v. Speedway LLC, 621 Fed.Appx. 792, 797 (6th Cir. 2015) (“An employer who forces an employee who does not have a job-restricting serious health condition-i.e., an employee who remains capable of performing all essential job duties- to take FMLA leave may improperly exhaust the twelve weeks of leave to which the employee is statutorily entitled each year.”).

         The court need not decide whether the Tenth Circuit would adopt an “involuntary leave” FMLA interference claim because the court finds that the facts alleged in the Amended Complaint do not implicate the “involuntary leave” FMLA interference framework. Miles does not allege that she did not have a “serious health condition” during the period designated as FMLA leave from ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.