O'Hara v. Mt. Vernon Bd. of Educ., No. C2-95-554.

CourtUnited States District Courts. 6th Circuit. United States District Courts. 6th Circuit. Southern District of Ohio
Writing for the CourtHolschuh
Citation16 F.Supp.2d 868
PartiesMelanie A. O'HARA, et al., Plaintiffs, v. MT. VERNON BOARD OF EDUCATION, et al., Defendants.
Decision Date26 August 1998
Docket NumberNo. C2-95-554.
16 F.Supp.2d 868
Melanie A. O'HARA, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
MT. VERNON BOARD OF EDUCATION, et al., Defendants.
No. C2-95-554.
United States District Court, S.D. Ohio, Eastern Division.
August 26, 1998.

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D. Wesley Newhouse, II, Lane Alton & Horst, Columbus, OH, for Plaintiffs.

John Curtis Albert, Crabbe Brown Jones Potts & Schmidt, Columbus, OH, George E. Roberts, III, Ennis Roberts & Fischer, Cincinnati, OH, for Defendants.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

HOLSCHUH, District Judge.


This matter is before this Court on a motion for summary judgment filed by the defendants (Record at 29), plaintiff's memorandum in response (Record at 61), and the defendants' reply memorandum. (Record at 67.) The motion has been fully briefed and is ready for decision.

I. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

The plaintiff1 is a school teacher with the responsibility of educating and guiding students with various developmental disabilities. The plaintiff is employed by the defendant, the Mt. Vernon Board of Education, as a teacher at the Dan Emmett Elementary School, Mount Vernon, Ohio. Named defendants also include K. Lee Rhoades, Principal of the Dan Emmett Elementary School, and Jeffrey R. Sittason, the Superintendent of Schools; both are employees of the Mt. Vernon Board of Education.

This lawsuit stems from a series of communications and events pertaining to the plaintiff's request for pregnancy and parental leave. On January 28, 1994, the plaintiff sent a letter to Dr. Robert Truman, Director of Instructions, requesting sick leave and also parental leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). The plaintiff stated that she would be on sick leave through February 2, 1994 and requested that her FMLA leave begin on February 2, 1994 and last until released from her doctor's care or no later than May 12, 1994. (Plaintiff's Exhibit 37.) The plaintiff also inquired about insurance coverage during her parental leave. (Id.) On February 17, 1994, Director Truman responded to the plaintiff, stating that she had previously used 5.1 weeks of sick leave which would be deducted from the 12 weeks granted by the FMLA and would result in the FMLA leave expiring on March 18, 1994. The letter further advised plaintiff that thereafter she would be responsible for the total insurance premiums under the school district's insurance program. (Plaintiff's Exhibit 4.) On February 27, 1994, the plaintiff's child was born. On March 1, 1994, Director Truman wrote to congratulate the plaintiff, to inform her that she obviously could request parental leave, and to inform her that if the first day of leave is after January 1 in any school year, the leave shall be for the remainder of the school year or at a time otherwise mutually agreed to pursuant to the parental leave provision of the Master Contract, a collective bargaining agreement2

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(CBA). (Plaintiff's Exhibit 42.) On March 16, 1994, Director Truman wrote to the plaintiff indicating that parental leave must begin on the date of her child's birth. In the March 16 letter, Director Truman also indicated that this would require the plaintiff to take leave until the end of the school year. Furthermore, according to the letter, plaintiff was required to begin making monthly payments of $546.12 for medical insurance as of March 31, 1994. (Defendants' Exhibit K.) Simultaneously, on March 16, 1994, the plaintiff wrote to Superintendent Sittason informing him that she would be able to return to work on April 26, 1994. (Plaintiff's Exhibit 44 and Defendants' Exhibit M.) In response, on March 18, 1994, Superintendent Sittason denied the plaintiff's request to return on April 26, 1994, citing the CBA requirement that parental leave "granted after January 1 of a given year shall be for the remainder of that school year, unless it is otherwise mutually agreed to." Superintendent Sittason expressed his feeling that it would be in the best interest of the children that plaintiff's parental leave continue for the remainder of the school year and that therefore "we do not mutually agree to your returning April 26." (Plaintiff's Exhibit 36).

On March 24, 1994, the plaintiff wrote to Superintendent Sittason to express her disagreement with the position that she could not return to work during the remainder of the school year and her belief that it was the school district's obligation to pay for her insurance in April "since I will be working in the month of April." (Plaintiff's Exhibit 45.) The plaintiff's letter generated this response from Director Truman on March 25, 1994:

Your parental leave will be granted from February 2, 1994, the date you requested in your letter of January 28, 1994. It will be for the balance of the 1993-94 school year. In accordance with the Master Contract, you have the option of returning for the 1994-1995 school year.

You will need to contact Nancy Sinclair regarding payment of whatever insurances you wish to carry before March 31, 1994. You absolutely need to pay your insurance premium responsibility, otherwise you do not have coverage for April 1994.

(Defendants' Exhibit N.)

Section 705(1) of the CBA provides:

Upon written notice to the superintendent a teacher shall be granted a parental leave of absence without pay. If the first day of the leave is prior to January 1, the leave granted shall be for the remainder of the school year or at a time otherwise mutually agreed to. If the first day of the leave is after January 1 in any school year, the leave shall be for the remainder of the school year or at a time otherwise mutually agreed to and at the employee's option provided the Board is notified prior to July 10 of that year, it shall be for all of the succeeding school year.

On April 4, 1994, Superintendent Sittason wrote to the plaintiff to explain that the FMLA mandates payment of her insurance coverage from February 5, 1994 until April 30, 1994; however, after the date of April 30, 1994, the plaintiff would have to make monthly payments to maintain her insurance.

Specifically, he wrote:

It is the Administration's understanding that the Family Medical Leave Act in your case began on February 5, 1994. The 12 weeks of the act would mandate payment by the Board of Education of its share of medical, dental and life insurance benefits through April 30, 1994. Your obligation will be $26.50 per month for medical and dental benefits and $3.92 per month for life insurance benefits. After the date of April 30, 1994, to maintain medical, dental and life insurance benefits will require monthly payments $546.12 for medical and dental benefits and $3.92 for life insurance. You will remain eligible to be on Board insurance throughout the remainder of your parental leave by paying to the Board of Education the established rate for medical, dental and life insurance and any increases in premiums as they become due. Payment for the insurance is due by the first

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day of each month. Therefore, we are returning your check of $550.04 dated March 31, 1994. Please remit payment of $26.50 and $3.92 for April coverage.

(Plaintiff's Exhibit 48.)

The plaintiff maintains that her performance evaluations deteriorated following her request for FMLA leave time. According to the plaintiff, in March 1990, Principal Rhoades ranked the plaintiff as excellent, outstanding or very good in all of the available categories; and wrote "you are doing a fine job and fitting in well with the rest of the staff." (Plaintiff's Exhibit 22.) In the winter of 1993-94, the tone of the evaluations changed and the plaintiff received several negative evaluations. For example, during her pregnancy, Principal Rhoades prepared an observation report that was generally positive, while containing some criticism of the plaintiff's work with a particular student. (Plaintiff's Exhibit 49.) On March 2, 1994, during the plaintiff's parental leave, Principal Rhoades issued an evaluation of the plaintiff, outlining necessary improvements and providing her with a one-year probationary contract. On March 16, 1994, the plaintiff responded to the negative points, disputing a December 16, 1993 teacher observation report. (Defendants' Exhibit J.)

The plaintiff filed a charge of discrimination with the Ohio Civil Rights Commission on March 30, 1994. On April 14, 1994, Principal Rhoades issued a second evaluation letter containing additional negative comments pertaining to the plaintiff's job performance. (Plaintiff's Exhibit 9.) Ultimately, a one year probationary contract was offered to the plaintiff, which is permitted by the CBA after a teacher has been given a multi-year contract for "reasons that have been identified in the evaluation process." (Plaintiff's Exhibit 3.) Plaintiff returned to her former teaching position at the beginning of the 1994-1995 school year. (Defendants' Exhibit AA at p. 75.) After a plan had been developed in response to the evaluations, plaintiff was subsequently awarded a three year contract. (Defendants' Exhibit AA at pp. 76-77; 86-87.)

Plaintiff's action in this Court is based upon claims of (1) a violation of 42 U.S.C. § 2000e (Title VII) and O.R.C. § 4112.02, due to alleged sex discrimination and alleged retaliation; (2) a violation of the FMLA, 29 U.S.C. § 2601, et seq.; (3) a violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (§ 1983); and (4) intentional inflection of emotional distress under Ohio law.

Defendants have moved for summary judgment on all of plaintiff's claims.

II. SUMMARY JUDGMENT

Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c) provides:

[Summary judgment] ... shall be rendered forthwith if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show 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.

"[T]his standard provides that the mere...

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27 practice notes
  • Burns v. Jacor Broadcasting Corp., No. C-1-99-469.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 6th Circuit. United States District Courts. 6th Circuit. Southern District of Ohio
    • January 19, 2001
    ...723, 728 (6th Cir.1999); Kirkland v. St. Elizabeth Hosp., 120 F.Supp.2d 660, 665-66 (N.D.Ohio 2000); O'Hara v. Mt. Vernon Bd. of Educ., 16 F.Supp.2d 868, 886 n. 16 (S.D.Ohio 1998). In order to prove the fourth element, a plaintiff must produce evidence that the "relevant other employee......
  • Davison v. Roadway Exp., Inc., No. 3:07 CV 424.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 6th Circuit. United States District Court of Northern District of Ohio
    • June 26, 2008
    ...Case No. 5:03-CV-108, 2004 WL 3457633, 2004 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 28332 (W.D.Mich. Oct. 6, 2004); O'Hara v. Mt. Vernon Board of Education, 16 F.Supp.2d 868 (S.D.Ohio The Sixth Circuit has ruled that a district court can hear an employment discrimination case brought by an employee covered by a c......
  • Lucht v. Encompass Corp., No. 4:06-CV-00562-JEG.
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Southern District of Iowa
    • June 18, 2007
    ...remedies set forth in § 2617 be the exclusive remedies available for a violation of the FMLA." O'Hara v. Mt. Vernon Bd. of Educ., 16 F.Supp.2d 868, 894 (S.D.Ohio 1998); Cisneros v. Colorado, No. Civ. A.03CV02122, 2005 WL 1719755 at *11 (D.Colo. July 22, 2005) (finding that section 1983......
  • Buser v. Southern Food Service, Inc., No. 1:98-CV00657.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. Middle District of North Carolina
    • August 11, 1999
    ...held that plaintiffs' FMLA cause of action precluded their Massachusetts Civil Rights Act claim); O'Hara v. Mt. Vernon Bd. of Educ., 16 F.Supp.2d 868 (S.D.Ohio) (granting summary judgment as to plaintiff's state claim of intentional infliction of emotional distress — as a result of factual ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
27 cases
  • Burns v. Jacor Broadcasting Corp., No. C-1-99-469.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 6th Circuit. United States District Courts. 6th Circuit. Southern District of Ohio
    • January 19, 2001
    ...723, 728 (6th Cir.1999); Kirkland v. St. Elizabeth Hosp., 120 F.Supp.2d 660, 665-66 (N.D.Ohio 2000); O'Hara v. Mt. Vernon Bd. of Educ., 16 F.Supp.2d 868, 886 n. 16 (S.D.Ohio 1998). In order to prove the fourth element, a plaintiff must produce evidence that the "relevant other employees are......
  • Davison v. Roadway Exp., Inc., No. 3:07 CV 424.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 6th Circuit. United States District Court of Northern District of Ohio
    • June 26, 2008
    ...Case No. 5:03-CV-108, 2004 WL 3457633, 2004 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 28332 (W.D.Mich. Oct. 6, 2004); O'Hara v. Mt. Vernon Board of Education, 16 F.Supp.2d 868 (S.D.Ohio The Sixth Circuit has ruled that a district court can hear an employment discrimination case brought by an employee covered by a c......
  • Lucht v. Encompass Corp., No. 4:06-CV-00562-JEG.
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Southern District of Iowa
    • June 18, 2007
    ...remedies set forth in § 2617 be the exclusive remedies available for a violation of the FMLA." O'Hara v. Mt. Vernon Bd. of Educ., 16 F.Supp.2d 868, 894 (S.D.Ohio 1998); Cisneros v. Colorado, No. Civ. A.03CV02122, 2005 WL 1719755 at *11 (D.Colo. July 22, 2005) (finding that section 1983 clai......
  • Buser v. Southern Food Service, Inc., No. 1:98-CV00657.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. Middle District of North Carolina
    • August 11, 1999
    ...held that plaintiffs' FMLA cause of action precluded their Massachusetts Civil Rights Act claim); O'Hara v. Mt. Vernon Bd. of Educ., 16 F.Supp.2d 868 (S.D.Ohio) (granting summary judgment as to plaintiff's state claim of intentional infliction of emotional distress — as a result of factual ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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