FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF
MASSACHUSETTS Hon. Mark G. Mastroianni, U.S. District Judge.
F. Nuciforo, Jr. and Nuciforo Law Group LLC on brief for
Heather A. Valentine, Assistant Attorney General, Government
Bureau, and Maura Healey, Attorney General of Massachusetts,
on brief for appellees.
Howard, Chief Judge, Torruella and Kayatta, Circuit Judges.
KAYATTA, Circuit Judge.
Germanowski challenges the district court's order
dismissing claims that her former employer violated her
rights under the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993
("FMLA"), 29 U.S.C. §§ 2611-2654.
According to Germanowski, the facts pleaded in her complaint
plausibly allege that her supervisor fired her because she
sought leave protected by the FMLA. We disagree and thus
this appeal follows a dismissal pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of
the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, we accept as true all
well-pleaded facts in Germanowski's complaint and draw
all reasonable inferences in her favor. See
Carrero-Ojeda v. Autoridad de
Energía Eléctrica, 755 F.3d 711, 712 (1st
worked at the Berkshire Middle District Registry of Deeds for
more than a decade, ascending the ranks from Recording Clerk
to First Assistant Register. For much of her tenure,
Germanowski worked alongside Patricia Harris, a defendant in
this action. They enjoyed a strong friendship in addition to
a collegial working relationship. But sometime after Harris
became Germanowski's supervisor in January 2013, their
relationship began to deteriorate, culminating in
Germanowski's termination in February 2015.
to the complaint, the trouble started a little over a year
after Harris became Register. Germanowski, then serving as
First Assistant Register, began experiencing stress and
anxiety accompanied by fatigue, hair loss, aches, and
gastrointestinal pain. She sought medical attention, visiting
her primary care physician and other healthcare providers.
She kept Harris abreast of her symptoms and physician visits.
months later, in June 2014, Harris allegedly began pressuring
Germanowski to support William Galvin, the Secretary of the
Commonwealth of Massachusetts, in his upcoming bid for
reelection. Germanowski twice refused Harris's requests
to make financial contributions to Secretary Galvin's
campaign committee. Around the time of Germanowski's
second refusal, Harris reassigned certain tasks from
Germanowski to other employees and boxed her out of
management meetings and decisions. Harris also redoubled her
efforts to extract a financial contribution from Germanowski,
cautioning that "it would look bad" if she declined
to make a contribution and demanding that she defend her
decision. Fearing that her continued employment was
contingent upon making a contribution, Germanowski ultimately
caved to the pressure in August 2014 and contributed.
following month, Germanowski visited her gynecologist and
complained of uncontrollable crying, weight loss, anxiety,
and other symptoms of stress. The gynecologist diagnosed
Germanowski with anxiety disorder. Once again, Germanowski
apprised Harris that she was seeking medical care and
reported her symptoms.
after the diagnosis, in October 2014, Germanowski suffered a
nervous breakdown while working. Harris drove Germanowski
home, notwithstanding Germanowski's protests that Harris
was the cause of her stress and anxiety. Germanowski saw her
primary care physician, who prescribed medication and
instructed her to contact a therapist. Over the following
week, Germanowski tried to connect with Harris to discuss her
absence from work and arrange coverage of her
responsibilities. When they finally connected, "Harris
accused Germanowski of disloyalty, and . . . of
inappropriately informing staff members about
Germanowski's condition." According to the
complaint, these accusations worsened Germanowski's
physical and emotional state.
informed Harris that she had begun treatment with both a
psychiatrist and a therapist. She then tried to return to
work on October 20, two and a half weeks after her nervous
breakdown, but Harris suggested another week of rest. They
met at the conclusion of that week ...