Mcfadden v. Ballard, Spahr, Andrews & Ingersoll, Civil Case No. 05-2401 (RJL).

CourtUnited States District Courts. United States District Court (Columbia)
Writing for the CourtRichard J. Leon
Citation580 F.Supp.2d 99
Docket NumberCivil Case No. 05-2401 (RJL).
Decision Date30 September 2008
PartiesVanessa A. McFADDEN, Plaintiff, v. BALLARD, SPAHR, ANDREWS, & INGERSOLL, LLP, et al., Defendants.
580 F.Supp.2d 99
Vanessa A. McFADDEN, Plaintiff,
v.
BALLARD, SPAHR, ANDREWS, & INGERSOLL, LLP, et al., Defendants.
Civil Case No. 05-2401 (RJL).
United States District Court, District of Columbia.
September 30, 2008.

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Teresa White Murray, The Law Office of T.W. Murray, Silver Spring, MD, for Plaintiff.

Bernard J. Dimuro, Jonathan R. Mook, Dimuroginsberg, P.C., Alexandria, VA, Constantinos G. Panagopoulos, Ballard Spahr Andrews & Ingersoll, LLP, Washington, DC, for Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

RICHARD J. LEON, District Judge.


Plaintiff Vanessa McFadden ("McFadden" or "plaintiff") brings this action against Ballard Spahr Andrews & Ingersoll, LLP ("Ballard Spahr") and its Human Resources Manager, Margaret Riley-Jamison (collectively "defendants"), alleging (1) violations of the Family and Medical Leave Act, 29 U.S.C. §§ 2601 et seq., ("FMLA") and (2) discrimination and retaliation on account of race and disability under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e et seq., ("Title VII"), the Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 12101 et seq., ("ADA"), 42 U.S.C. § 1981 (" § 1981"), and the D.C. Human Rights Act, D.C.Code §§ 2-1402.11 et seq., ("DCHRA"). Before the Court is the defendants' motion for summary judgment. After careful consideration of the parties' pleadings, the relevant law, and the entire record herein, the Court GRANTS the defendants' motion and dismisses the case.

BACKGROUND

McFadden, an African-American female, began work as a full-time legal secretary at Ballard Spahr in 1989. (Compl. ¶ 12; Defs.' Statement of Undisputed Facts

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("Defs.' Stmt.") ¶ 1.) Beginning in October 2002 and continuing until her termination in May 2004, McFadden took various forms of leave in order to care for her husband and in connection with her own medical condition. (Defs.' Stmt. ¶¶ 6-8, 14, 18-25.) McFadden alleges that during this period defendants: (1) interfered with McFadden's FMLA leave entitlement; (2) discriminated against McFadden on account of her race; (3) illegally terminated McFadden on account of her disability; and (4) retaliated against McFadden for her use of FMLA leave to which she was entitled. (Pl.'s Opp'n Br. at 1-2.) The undisputed facts are as follows.

In October 2002, McFadden's husband was diagnosed with terminal cancer and scheduled for immediate surgery. (Compl. ¶ 17; Defs.' Stmt. ¶ 6.) McFadden requested time off from work in order to care for him during and after the surgery. (Defs.' Stmt. ¶ 7.) Later, she requested a reduced work schedule so that she could care for him during his chemotherapy. (Compl. ¶ 22.) Ballard Spahr responded by granting McFadden a combination of paid leave and unpaid FMLA leave and reducing her work schedule to three to four work days per week, on alternating weeks. (Defs.' Stmt. ¶¶ 8, 13; Pl.'s Stmt. ¶ 12.) The leave benefits memorandum Ballard Spahr provided McFadden stated that her FMLA coverage period was October 17, 2002 to January 8, 2003 (twelve weeks) and that the firm was advancing McFadden ten days of paid leave from 2003 to supplement the two remaining days of paid leave she had for 2002. (Defs.' Stmt. ¶ 13; Nov. 1, 2002 Memo., Ex. 8 to Defs.' Mem. in Supp. of Mot. for Summ. J.)

In early 2003, McFadden herself began to experience health problems and was subsequently diagnosed with Graves disease, fibromyalgia, and other serious medical conditions. (Compl. ¶ 36; Defs.' Stmt. ¶ 16.) By mid-October of that year she was no longer able to work in her position as a legal secretary and she left the firm on disability leave.1 (Compl. ¶ 39; Defs.' Stmt. ¶ 19.) McFadden's primary care physician stated that McFadden was "physically and mentally incapacitated" and "unable to perform any work," and her psychiatrist agreed that McFadden could not return to work "now or in the foreseeable future." (Defs.' Stmt. ¶¶ 66-67, 69.) Ballard Spahr thereafter provided McFadden with renewed FMLA leave benefits, paid disability leave from November 15, 2003 through January 15, 2004, and three months of non-FMLA leave commencing at the FMLA leave's expiration on February 4, 2004. (Defs.' Stmt. ¶¶ 21, 22-23, 48.) Ballard Spahr's insurance carrier, UnumProvident, took over the payments under the firm's disability insurance plan in January 2004, and McFadden was approved for Social Security Disability Insurance ("SSDI") in March 2004.2 (Defs.' Stmt. ¶¶ 49-55, 60.)

On May 14, 2004, shortly after her non-FMLA leave expired, McFadden contacted Ballard Spahr to inquire about her leave status. (Defs.' Stmt. ¶¶ 25-26.) Due to her medical condition, McFadden was unable to return to the firm as a legal secretary.

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(Defs.' Stmt. ¶ 29.) Ballard Spahr offered McFadden a position in the administrative department ("ARC"), which McFadden declined because she could not perform word processing. (Defs.' Stmt. ¶¶ 29-30.) McFadden then asked if she could return to the firm in the receptionist position. (Defs.' Stmt. ¶ 31.) Ballard Spahr denied McFadden's request because the receptionist position was being held open for another employee who was out on medical leave at the time. (Defs.' Stmt. ¶ 31.) Ballard Spahr's director of human resources then terminated McFadden later that same day. (Defs.' Stmt. ¶ 33.)

McFadden subsequently filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which issued McFadden a Dismissal and Notice of Rights on September 14, 2005. (Compl., App. A) McFadden filed this lawsuit on December 14, 2005.

LEGAL STANDARD

Summary judgment should be rendered if the pleadings and the record, including any affidavits, "show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). The burden of establishing that there is no genuine issue of material fact is on the moving party. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986). Material facts are those "that might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986). The Court must view the facts in the light most favorable to the nonmovant, giving the nonmovant the benefit of all justifiable inferences derived from the evidence. Id. at 255, 106 S.Ct. 2505. The nonmovant, however, may not rely merely on allegations, conclusory statements, or denials in its own pleading, but must set out specific facts showing a genuine issue for trial. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e); see Greene v. Dalton, 164 F.3d 671, 675 (D.C.Cir.1999). For the following reasons, the Court finds that the defendants have met their burden and are entitled to judgment as a matter of law.

ANALYSIS

I. McFadden's FMLA Interference Claim

It is "unlawful for any employer to interfere with, restrain, or deny the exercise of or the attempt to exercise, any right provided" by the FMLA. 29 U.S.C. § 2615(a)(1).3 In order to succeed on an FMLA interference claim, a plaintiff must prove both that the employer interfered with the plaintiffs exercise of FMLA rights and that the interference caused prejudice. Ragsdale v. Wolverine World Wide, Inc., 535 U.S. 81, 89, 122 S.Ct. 1155, 152 L.Ed.2d 167 (2002). "Prejudice exists where an employee loses compensation or benefits `by reason of the violation,' ... sustains other monetary losses

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`as a direct result of the violation,' ... or suffers some loss in employment status remediable through `appropriate' equitable relief." Reed v. Buckeye Fire Equip., 241 Fed.Appx. 917, 924 (4th Cir.2007) (quoting 29 U.S.C. § 2617(a)(1)). Here, McFadden alleges that Ballard Spahr and Riley-Jamison interfered with and/or denied McFadden use of her FMLA entitlement in multiple ways, as described below. Ballard Spahr contends that even assuming the truth of McFadden's allegations, which Ballard Spahr disputes, McFadden has failed to present evidence sufficient for a reasonable jury to find that she was prejudiced as a result. I agree.

McFadden alleges three FMLA interference violations. First, she contends that Ballard Spahr and Riley-Jamison willfully misinformed McFadden in October 2002 about the amount of FMLA leave to which she was entitled, representing that McFadden was entitled only to twelve weeks of unpaid leave, rather than sixteen, as provided under the D.C. Family and Medical Leave Act, and that McFadden was required to take her leave within the specified twelve-week "coverage period." (Compl. ¶ 23; Pl.'s Opp'n Br. at 18.) Second, McFadden contends that Ballard Spahr improperly counted against her 2002 FMLA leave two days that she took off from work for her own pre-scheduled medical appointments. (Pl.'s Opp'n Br. at 18.) And third, McFadden contends that Riley-Jamison "harassed" her about her modified work schedule and FMLA leave entitlement, which made McFadden feel "badgered" into forgoing her FMLA leave. (Pl.'s Stmt. ¶ 42; Pl.'s Opp'n Br. at 18.)4

Even if the Court assumes that these incidents amount to an actionable "interference" under the FMLA, McFadden fails to demonstrate that such interference caused her prejudice. To prove prejudice, McFadden must show that the violations either (1) caused a monetary loss or (2) are remediable through equitable relief. See Ragsdale, 535 U.S. at 89, 122 S.Ct. 1155. McFadden provides insufficient evidence to support either. First, although McFadden contends that she was "entitled ... to four additional weeks of unpaid leave that she never received" (Pl.'s Stmt. ¶ 12.), critically, she does not dispute that Ballard Spahr ever denied her leave when she requested it.5

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(Defs.' Stmt. ¶ 21); Rodgers v. City of Des Moines, 435 F.3d 904, 909 (8th Cir. 2006) (plaintiff suffered no prejudice where undisputed evidence showed plaintiff received her requested FMLA leave). Second, McFadden contends that "Riley-Jamison's pressured [sic] caused [her]...

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14 practice notes
  • Franklin v. Potter, Civil Action No. 07-1205 (ESH).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. United States District Court (Columbia)
    • March 4, 2009
    ...Page 65 relevant aspects' of their employment situations are `nearly identical.'" McFadden v. Ballard, Spahr, Andrews & Ingersoll, LLP, 580 F.Supp.2d 99, 109 (D.D.C.2008) (quoting Neuren v. Adduci, Mastriani, Meeks, & Schill, 43 F.3d 1507, 1514 (D.C.Cir.1995)). "To make this determination, ......
  • Robertson v. Dodaro, Civil Action No.: 08–1944 (RMU).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. United States District Court (Columbia)
    • March 7, 2011
    ...that the plaintiff is not similarly situated to either Summers or Bauer, cf. McFadden v. Ballard, Spahr, Andrews and Ingersoll, LLP, 580 F.Supp.2d 99, 109–110 (D.D.C.2008) (observing that two individuals are properly compared because they were subject to the same standards and engaged in th......
  • Anyaso v. U.S. Capitol Police, Civil Action No. 12–1327 ESH
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. United States District Court (Columbia)
    • April 17, 2014
    ...that would distinguish their conduct or the employer's treatment of them for it.” McFadden v. Ballard, Spahr, Andrews & Ingersoll, LLP, 580 F.Supp.2d 99, 109–10 (D.D.C.2008) (internal citations and quotation marks omitted), aff'd in relevant part and rev'd on other grounds, 611 F.3d 1 (D.C.......
  • Anyaso v. U.S. Capitol Police, Civil Action No. 12–1327 (ESH)
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. United States District Court (Columbia)
    • April 17, 2014
    ...that would distinguish their conduct or the employer's treatment of them for it.” McFadden v. Ballard, Spahr, Andrews & Ingersoll, LLP, 580 F.Supp.2d 99, 109–10 (D.D.C.2008) (internal citations and quotation marks omitted), aff'd in relevant part and rev'd on other grounds, 611 F.3d 1 (D.C.......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
14 cases
  • Franklin v. Potter, Civil Action No. 07-1205 (ESH).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. United States District Court (Columbia)
    • March 4, 2009
    ...Page 65 relevant aspects' of their employment situations are `nearly identical.'" McFadden v. Ballard, Spahr, Andrews & Ingersoll, LLP, 580 F.Supp.2d 99, 109 (D.D.C.2008) (quoting Neuren v. Adduci, Mastriani, Meeks, & Schill, 43 F.3d 1507, 1514 (D.C.Cir.1995)). "To make this determination, ......
  • Robertson v. Dodaro, Civil Action No.: 08–1944 (RMU).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. United States District Court (Columbia)
    • March 7, 2011
    ...that the plaintiff is not similarly situated to either Summers or Bauer, cf. McFadden v. Ballard, Spahr, Andrews and Ingersoll, LLP, 580 F.Supp.2d 99, 109–110 (D.D.C.2008) (observing that two individuals are properly compared because they were subject to the same standards and engaged in th......
  • Anyaso v. U.S. Capitol Police, Civil Action No. 12–1327 ESH
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. United States District Court (Columbia)
    • April 17, 2014
    ...that would distinguish their conduct or the employer's treatment of them for it.” McFadden v. Ballard, Spahr, Andrews & Ingersoll, LLP, 580 F.Supp.2d 99, 109–10 (D.D.C.2008) (internal citations and quotation marks omitted), aff'd in relevant part and rev'd on other grounds, 611 F.3d 1 (D.C.......
  • Anyaso v. U.S. Capitol Police, Civil Action No. 12–1327 (ESH)
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. United States District Court (Columbia)
    • April 17, 2014
    ...that would distinguish their conduct or the employer's treatment of them for it.” McFadden v. Ballard, Spahr, Andrews & Ingersoll, LLP, 580 F.Supp.2d 99, 109–10 (D.D.C.2008) (internal citations and quotation marks omitted), aff'd in relevant part and rev'd on other grounds, 611 F.3d 1 (D.C.......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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