Heard: March 1, 2018.
action commenced in the Superior Court Department on March
19, 2015. The case was heard by Robert L. Ullmann, J., on a
motion for summary judgment.
C. Gladstone for the plaintiff.
Jessica L. Shaffer, Assistant Attorney General, for the
Present: Trainor, Kinder, & Henry, JJ.
plaintiff, Teresa Krupien, an employee of the Chelsea
Soldiers' Home (the home), brought this action in
Superior Court against the home's chief operating officer
and acting superintendent, Elizabeth Anne Ritcey; and the
home's human resources liaison, Faith M. Kirkland
(collectively, defendants). Krupien alleges that Kirkland and
Ritcey substantially burdened her right to the free exercise
of her religion in violation of the Massachusetts Civil
Rights Act, G. L. c. 12, §§ 11H and 111 (the MCRA).
Ritcey and Kirkland barred Krupien from the home's
campus, which includes Krupien's church, during an
investigation of a claim by another employee that Krupien
injured that employee's wrist while transferring a
patient from a bed to a wheelchair. The stay-away directive,
until subsequently modified, prohibited
Krupien from attending her church for thirty-seven days,
including Christmas. The sole issue before this court is
whether the defendants, State actors, are entitled to
qualified immunity. We conclude that they are not.
reviewing a grant of summary judgment, we view the evidence
in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party.
Curtis v. School Comm. of
Falmouth, 420 Mass. 749, 753 (1995) .
began working at the home, a Commonwealth facility, in 1994.
The home's campus includes the Quigley building, from
which the home operates. Also on the campus are the St.
Michael's Chapel (chapel) and several other buildings.
The chapel serves both patients from the home and outside
persons. The buildings are distinct and not connected above
ground; they are connected through an underground tunnel.
December 21, 2013, a coworker of Krupien's, Marlene
Ravanis, alleged that Krupien injured Ravanis's wrist
while they were moving a patient into a wheelchair. Shortly
after the alleged incident, Ravanis reported the allegation
to the charge nurse, Beth Moon, and to the nurse supervisor,
Michele Nickerson. Nickerson interviewed Ravanis and
asked her if she felt uncomfortable working with Krupien.
Ravanis replied, "No," and declined Nickerson's
offer to move to a different part of the home. Although
Ravanis repeatedly asserted that her wrist was bruised,
Nickerson did not observe bruising on Ravanis's wrist on
December 21, 2013, nor the following day. Ravanis and Krupien
worked together uneventfully for the remainder of the shift,
including when Ravanis again asked Krupien to help her move a
patient, which they accomplished without incident.
December 23, 2013, Kirkland learned of the alleged incident
between Ravanis and Krupien when Ravanis gave her a medical
record indicating "possible tendinitis" and
recommending that Ravanis remain out of work for ten days.
Kirkland reviewed written statements, interviewed Ravanis and
Martin, and discussed this medical record with Ritcey.
Kirkland did not know or ask Ravanis if Ravanis had a
work-related need to enter the chapel, if she took patients
from the home to the chapel, or if she herself attended the
chapel. Kirkland did not review Krupien's personnel
advised Ritcey what should be done -- that Krupien should be
given a stay-away directive. As a result of her discussion
with Kirkland, Ritcey suspended Krupien with pay and signed a
letter that stated:
"I am ordering you to refrain from entering the property
of the Chelsea Soldier[s'] Home and from contacting any
of its employees. Failure to heed my directive will result in
contacting appropriate law enforcement ...