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Oberst v. Quantum Health Care, Inc.

United States District Court, W.D. Oklahoma

February 13, 2018

STEPHANIE OBERST, Plaintiff,
v.
QUANTUM HEALTH CARE, INC., a domestic, for-profit business corporation, Defendant.

          ORDER

          VICKI MILES-LAGRANGE, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Before the Court is defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment, filed August 1, 2017. On January 8, 2018, plaintiff filed her response, and on January 16, 2018, defendant filed its reply. Based upon the parties' submissions, the Court makes its determination.

         I. Introduction

         Defendant provides services to home health patients. Plaintiff was hired by defendant in December 2014 as an RN Case Manager. In late March or early April 2015, plaintiff advised defendant that she was seeking to become pregnant through in vitro fertilization (“IVF”). Between March and July, Kathy Graham, plaintiff's supervisor, learned that plaintiff had conceived, and plaintiff learned that Ms. Graham's daughter's IVF had failed. After these events, plaintiff alleges that Ms. Graham was treating her differently. Plaintiff was ultimately allowed to report to another RN Case Manager, rather than reporting to Ms. Graham.

         In September 2015, plaintiff was assigned to patient J.L. to perform skilled nursing services. Plaintiff reported that patient J.L. was not homebound and that if defendant continued to bill TRICARE for the patient's care, defendant would be committing fraud. Plaintiff also wrote in patient J.L's chart that he was not homebound. Plaintiff alleges that Ms. Graham threatened to fire her if she did not delete portions of her nursing note that stated her belief that patient J.L. was not homebound. Plaintiff, however, refused to alter the patient's chart.

         On October 12, 2015, defendant transferred plaintiff to solely working at the Chateau, an assisted living facility. Plaintiff asserts that the transfer to the Chateau added new duties to her job. On November 13, 2015, defendant terminated plaintiff.

         On July 22, 2016, plaintiff filed the instant action, alleging pregnancy discrimination and wrongful discharge in violation of Oklahoma's public policy. Defendant now moves for summary judgment as to both of plaintiff's claims.

         II. Summary Judgment Standard

         “Summary judgment is appropriate if the record shows that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. The moving party is entitled to summary judgment where the record taken as a whole could not lead a rational trier of fact to find for the non-moving party. When applying this standard, [the Court] examines the record and reasonable inferences drawn therefrom in the light most favorable to the non-moving party.” 19 Solid Waste Dep't Mechs. v. City of Albuquerque, 156 F.3d 1068, 1071-72 (10th Cir. 1998) (internal citations and quotations omitted).

         “Only disputes over facts that might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law will properly preclude the entry of summary judgment. Furthermore, the non-movant has a burden of doing more than simply showing there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts. Rather, the relevant inquiry is whether the evidence presents a sufficient disagreement to require submission to a jury or whether it is so one-sided that one party must prevail as a matter of law.” Neustrom v. Union Pac. R.R. Co., 156 F.3d 1057, 1066 (10th Cir. 1998) (internal citations and quotations omitted).

         III. Discussion

         A. Pregnancy discrimination

         The Tenth Circuit has held that “a pregnancy discrimination claim is analyzed the same as other Title VII claims.” Atchley v. Nordam Grp., Inc., 180 F.3d 1143, 1148 (10th Cir. 1999) (internal citation omitted). Thus, when reviewing a pregnancy discrimination claim, a court follows the three stage analysis outlined in McDonnell Douglas Corp. v. Green, 411 U.S. 792 (1973). “At the first stage, the plaintiff must prove a prima facie case of discrimination. She must show: (1) she is within the protected class; (2) she was doing satisfactory work; (3) she was discharged; and (4) her position remained open and was ultimately filled by a nonpregnant employee.” Id. (internal citations omitted). For purposes of its motion for summary judgment, defendant assumes that plaintiff can state a prima facie case of discrimination.

         If a plaintiff proves a prima facie case of discrimination, the burden of production moves to the defendant to articulate a legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason for its action. See Id. Having carefully reviewed the parties' submissions, the Court finds that defendant has satisfied its burden of production and has articulated a legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason for terminating plaintiff. Specifically, defendant asserts that it terminated plaintiff because she engaged in disruptive behavior including, but not limited to: (1) repetitively calling current employees to complain about working conditions; (2) general negativity; (3) employees reporting to management that plaintiff's constant negativity was draining them emotionally and they had begun to screen out ...


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