United States District Court, D. Massachusetts
PAULA L. YOUNG, Plaintiff,
MEGAN J. BRENNAN, Postmaster General of the United States Postal Service, Defendant.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER ON MOTION TO DISMISS
Dennis Saylor IV United States District Judge.
a workplace discrimination action. Plaintiff Paula Young was
formerly employed with the United States Postal Service. In
the fall of 2010, Young was involved in a minor automobile
accident, after which she took leave from work for almost
eight weeks. The Postal Service did not approve that period
of leave, and subsequently declined to renew her temporary
appointment. She has brought this action against the
Postmaster General alleging that the Postal Service violated
the Family Medical Leave Act, unlawfully retaliated against
her for engaging in protected conduct, and discriminated
against her on the basis of race, sex, and disability.
has moved to dismiss the complaint for failure to state a
claim upon which relief can be granted under Fed.R.Civ.P.
12(b)(6). For the following reasons, the motion will be
granted in part and denied in part.
otherwise noted, the facts are set forth as alleged in the
Young is an African-American woman and a former Postal
Service employee. (Compl. at 1). Megan Brennan is the
Postmaster General of the United States Postal Service.
began working for the Postal Service in 2008. (Id.
at 2). She was employed as a “Transitional Employee,
” which was a temporary appointment subject to periodic
renewal. (Id. ¶ 49; EEOC Decision, Compl. App.
at 37). In March 2010, she was transferred to the Waltham
Annex Post Office (“the Post Office”).
(Compl. at 2).
October 8, 2010, while Young was driving a postal vehicle in
the course of her employment, a third party struck her
vehicle from behind. (Id. ¶ 1). Neither vehicle
was damaged in the accident. (Id. ¶ 2). She
called her manager, Chris Porfert, who arrived at the scene
with a mechanic. (Id.). Porfert asked Young if she
was okay, to which she responded that she “had a slight
headache” and “it was likely that [she] would not
feel any real pain until the next day.” (Id.).
that day, Young visited Salem Hospital and received a note
from a clinician stating that she should be out of work for
three days, until October 11. (Id. ¶ 3). The
hospital faxed that note to the Post Office. (Id.).
On October 9, Young called her weekend supervisor to request
the day off work due to pain resulting from the accident.
(Id. ¶ 4).
October 11, Young returned to work. (Id. ¶ 5).
When she inquired about the accident, Porfert told her that
he had not filed an accident claim because neither vehicle
had been damaged. (Id.).
October 17 and 18, Young again called in sick to work due to
pain from the accident. (Id. ¶ 8). On October
19, she visited Beth Israel Hospital and was prescribed
medication and physical therapy. (Id. ¶ 9). A
hospital clinician wrote a letter stating that Young should
be out of work until November 2. That letter was faxed to the
Post Office. (Id.). On November 1, Young visited
North Shore Rehabilitation, which provided her a note stating
that she should be out of work for an additional four weeks.
(Id. ¶ 11). That note was also faxed to the
Post Office. (Id.).
November 2, Young had a telephone conversation with Porfert
and two other employees concerning her absences.
(Id. ¶ 12). The complaint alleges that Porfert
stated that Young's injuries were not serious, and that
her pain may in fact be “due to childbirth.”
(Id.). Young disagreed, stating that her youngest
child is twelve years old and it was therefore impossible for
her pain to be attributable to child birth. (Id.).
Porfert further stated that he would permit Young to take
leave to “deal with some persona[l] matters.”
(Id.). She responded that she was on leave due to
pain, and not to deal with personal problems. (Id.).
According to the complaint, Porfert then stated that if Young
reported the accident, she “would not like the outcome
of it.” (Id.).
was scheduled to visit the Post Office on November 5, to fill
out an accident report. (Id. ¶¶ 13-14).
She called Porfert to reschedule the meeting and to request
that a union representative be present. (Id. ¶
14). According to the complaint, Porfert “got
furious” and asked whether she was in the union, to
which she responded “no”; however, Porfert agreed
to allow a union representative to attend. (Id.).
eventually went to the Post Office on November 23.
(Id. ¶ 15). When she arrived, Porfert allegedly
told her to resign from her position so that her resume would
not reflect that she had been terminated. (Id.). He
also allegedly told her that he did not believe that her
injuries were caused by the accident, and were due to a
different, unspecified injury. (Id.). Following that
conversation, she was given paperwork to file an accident
report concerning the October 8 incident. (Id.). She
later submitted the paperwork with an application for
workers' compensation. (Id. ¶ 27; U.S.
Dep't of Labor Letter, Compl. App. at 1).
November 29, Young again visited North Shore Rehabilitation.
(Id. ¶ 16). She was given a note clearing her
to return to work on December 8, subject to a light-duty
restriction, which was faxed to the Post Office.
(Id.). On December 6 and 7, Young called her
supervisors to ask when they would place her on the schedule,
but she was not provided with an answer. (Id.
¶¶ 17-18). On December 13, a clinician advised her
that she could return to work with no restrictions.
(Id. ¶ 20).
December 23, Young received a letter from a Postal Service
Human Resources Manager stating that she had been terminated
on October 18, 2010. (Id. ¶ 22). Upon receiving
that letter, she called a union representative who, in turn,
called Porfert. (Id.). Porfert informed the union
representative that the termination letter had been sent by
mistake and that she would be reinstated. (Id.).
December 29, Young received a letter from Porfert stating
that she had failed to provide accurate documentation
concerning her absences, and therefore had been placed on
“absent without official leave” or
“AWOL” status. (Id. ¶ 23). Porfert
asked her to contact him by telephone on January 3, 2011, for
a pre-disciplinary conference. Young, however, failed to do
so. (Id.). One week later, on January 10, she mailed
him a letter explaining that she had missed the