United States District Court, D. Massachusetts
ORDER AND MEMORANDUM ON DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO
DISMISS (Docket No. 6)
TIMOTHY S. HILLMAN DISTRICT JUDGE.
Kleya (“Plaintiff”) filed this action against
Karl Storz Endovision, Inc. (“Karl Storz”) and
Jodi Peck (“Defendant Peck”) (collectively
“Defendants”) following her resignation from her
employment at Karl Storz. She claims violation of the Family
and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”) (Count I);
retaliation for use of the FMLA (Count II); violation of the
Americans with Disabilities Act (Counts III &
violation of Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 151B (Counts V, VI, VII,
& VIII); and violation of Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 152 (Count
IX). Defendants have moved to dismiss all claims for failure
to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. (Docket
No. 6). For the reasons stated below, Defendants' motion
is granted in part and
denied in part.
following facts are taken from Plaintiff's Complaint
(Docket No. 1) and assumed to be true at this stage in the
April 10, 2002 Plaintiff began working at Karl Storz as a
Stockroom Coordinator. From the start of her employment until
November 2017, Plaintiff had never been formally disciplined
and consistently received positive performance reviews.
was diagnosed with Scoliosis as a child and suffers from
degenerative disc disease. In 2017, she was also diagnosed
with anxiety and depression. In 2011, Plaintiff realized the
physical demands of her job aggravated her Scoliosis and
degenerative disc disease. Consequently, in December 2011,
Plaintiff “bid out” of the materials group into a
position as the Manufacturing Coordinator in the Video
Department. Most of her job duties in this new role were
performed seated at her workstation.
2017, Plaintiff applied and was approved for a leave under
the FMLA. On June 7, 2017, Plaintiff resumed work. Defendants
informed Plaintiff that upon her return, she would be
transferred to the “Manufacturing Coordinator II
position” in the Materials Group. This position was
more physically demanding and required Plaintiff to deliver
parts by pushing a cart over fifty pounds.
was also informed that, upon her return, Defendant Peck would
be her new supervisor. Plaintiff was the only Coordinator on
the day shift required to report to Defendant Peck although
Rob Grendell, one of Plaintiff's coworkers, also
volunteered to work with Defendant Peck. According to
Plaintiff, Defendant Peck was hostile towards her immediately
upon her return to work and engaged in a scheme to drive her
out of the company. For instance, Plaintiff alleges that
Defendant Peck gave her inconsistent instructions and
attempted to discipline her for only following one. In
addition, Defendant Peck ignored Plaintiff and compared her
unfavorably to Mr. Grendell.
September 2017, Plaintiff took another FMLA leave for
bronchitis. Upon her return, Plaintiff was required to stand
for her entire shift. Plaintiff made several requests for a
stool as most of her duties were at her workstation, but
Defendant Peck refused because her position did not require
her to sit. According to Plaintiff, she was the only
Coordinator forced to stand for her entire shift. Plaintiff
additionally requested a fatigue mat, which was eventually
provided after several months. In May 2017, Plaintiff again
applied for FMLA leave, which Karl Storz approved.
November 29, 2017, Plaintiff was injured while pushing the
cart. A Workers' Compensation doctor concluded that
Plaintiff should not push or pull the cart or lift more than
ten pounds. The doctor further recommended that she sit every
December 7, 2017, Plaintiff asked Jessica Barnes, who worked
in Human Resources, to file a grievance regarding
Defendants' conduct. Ms. Barnes refused to accept or
investigate the complaint and instructed Plaintiff to see
Defendant Peck about her concerns.
December 20, 2017, the Workers' Compensation doctor
placed Plaintiff on permanent modified duty which consisted
of no pushing or pulling, no reaching, and advised stretching
every hour. After her Workers' Compensation claim,
Plaintiff alleges that Defendants required her to use a
different entrance to the building because the door was too
heavy given her restriction. In addition, Defendants required
Plaintiff to use a different bathroom that was a long walk
away instead of the one in her work area.
January 2, 2018, Defendant Peck and Ms. Barnes issued a
Performance Improvement Plan (“PIP”) for
Plaintiff. The PIP noted that Plaintiff was not properly
executing standard work, communicating, or
“teaming.” Plaintiff contended that the PIP was
not reflective of her true performance and consequently
declined to sign it. The next day, when Defendants refused to
reconsider the PIP, Plaintiff felt she had no choice but to
resign from Karl Storz.
defendant may move to dismiss, based solely on the complaint,
for the plaintiff's “failure to state a claim upon
which relief can be granted.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). To
survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, a complaint must
allege “a plausible entitlement to relief.”
Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 559
(2007). Although detailed factual allegations are not
necessary to survive a motion to dismiss, the standard
“requires more than labels and conclusions, and a
formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action
will not do.” Id. at 555. “The relevant
inquiry focuses on the reasonableness of the inference of
liability that the plaintiff is asking the court to draw from
the facts alleged in the complaint.”
Ocasio-Hernandez v. Fortuno-Burset, 640 F.3d 1, 13
(1st Cir. 2011).
evaluating a motion to dismiss, the court must accept all
factual allegations in the complaint as true and draw all
reasonable inferences in the plaintiff's favor.
Langadinos v. American Airlines, Inc., 199 F.3d 68,
68 (1st Cir. 2000). It is a “context-specific
task” to determine “whether a complaint states a
plausible claim for relief, ” one that “requires
the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and
common sense.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S.
662, 679 (2009) (citations omitted). “[W]here the
well-pleaded facts do not permit the court to infer more than
the mere possibility of misconduct, the complaint has
alleged-but it has not ‘show[n]'-that the pleader
is entitled to relief.” Id. (quoting
Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2)). On the other hand, a court may not
disregard properly pled factual allegations, “even if
it strikes a savvy judge that actual proof of those facts is
improbable.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556.
Interference Claim (Count I)
FMLA makes it unlawful for “any employer to interfere
with, restrain, or deny the exercise of” any
FMLA-protected right. 29 U.S.C. § 2615(a)(1).
“Interfering with the exercise of an employee's
rights would include, for example, not only refusing to
authorize FMLA ...