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Green v. Woodhaven Country Club, Inc.

United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Louisville Division

June 10, 2015

BETHENY GREEN and RICHARD MICHAELS, Plaintiffs,
v.
WOODHAVEN COUNTRY CLUB, INC., Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

THOMAS B. RUSSELL, Senior District Judge.

This matter is before the Court on Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment. (Docket No. 23). The Plaintiffs have replied, (Docket No. 36), and the Defendants have responded, (Docket No. 35). This matter is now ripe for adjudication. For the following reasons, the Court will GRANT in part and DENY in part the Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiffs Betheny Green ("Green") and Richard Michaels ("Michaels") bring this lawsuit against Woodhaven Country Club, Inc. Their remaining claims are for discrimination and retaliation under 29 U.S.C. § 2601, the Family Medical Leave Act ("FMLA"), and discrimination under KRS 344.010, the Kentucky Civil Rights Act.

Green began work for Woodhaven on April 15, 2011 and was responsible for marketing. She alleges that she was unlawfully terminated on August 7, 2015. Michaels began working for Woodhaven on April 8, 2009 as the manager for the bar and social events. Michaels alleges that he was unlawfully terminated on March 12, 2012. Both allege that they suffer from a physical impairment and are "qualified individuals" as defined by 42 U.S.C. §12101 et seq. and KRS 344.010 et seq.

Plaintiff Green

Green alleges that she suffers from "debilitating endometriosis which [has] required at least 12 prior gynecological surgeries in the last 17 years." (Docket No. 1). Around July of 2012, she was informed that she would need to undergo a hysterectomy, which was scheduled for August 9, 2012. Green states that she met with Shelly Shumate ("Shumate") "to discuss the requisite paperwork for FMLA leave." Id. Green alleges that Shumate informed Green that "no paperwork would be needed due to the fact that the surgery would be covered by Ms. Green's husband's medical insurance policy." Id.

Via e-mail, Green informed Woodhaven's management team that she would be unable to work for two weeks of recovery time, then she would work from home for four more weeks. (Docket No. 23-4). Green alleges that immediately her manager, Chance Maguire, ("Maguire") began treating her differently and more negatively, and discontinued their weekly meetings. (Docket No. 1). Green alleges that around August 7, 2012, Maguire informed Green that he was terminating her employment. Maguire stated that Green's performance was consistently poor, and that she was fired due her poor performance, and because she refused to cooperate in providing passwords to company databases, social media cites, and other job cycle information when requested. (Docket No. 23).

Plaintiff Michaels

Michaels alleges that he "previously sustained a knee injury which has resulted in multiple surgical procedures and has limited his ability to walk." Id. He alleges that in early 2012, he informed Maguire that he needed to have orthopedic surgery to address an ongoing knee injury. The surgery was scheduled and performed on March 1, 2012, and afterwards Michaels alleges that he was unable to walk. He alleges that a few days into his recovery, he began to receive phone calls regarding escalating problems as a result of his absence. On March 12, 2012, Michaels alleged that Maguire informed Michaels "that, while he would consider giving him some bartending shifts after he recovered, Woodhaven was moving forward with hiring a new manager to replace Plaintiff Michaels." Id.

STANDARD

Summary judgment is appropriate where "the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). In determining whether summary judgment is appropriate, a court must resolve all ambiguities and draw all reasonable inferences against the moving party. See Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986).

"[N]ot every issue of fact or conflicting inference presents a genuine issue of material fact." Street v. J. C. Bradford & Co., 886 F.2d 1472, 1477 (6th Cir. 1989). The test is whether the party bearing the burden of proof has presented a jury question as to each element in the case. Hartsel v. Keys, 87 F.3d 795, 799 (6th Cir. 1996). The plaintiff must present more than a mere scintilla of evidence in support of his position; the plaintiff must present evidence on which the trier of fact could reasonably find for the plaintiff. See id. (citing Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 252 (1986)). Mere speculation will not suffice to defeat a motion for summary judgment: "the mere existence of a colorable factual dispute will not defeat a properly supported motion for summary judgment. A genuine dispute between the parties on an issue of material fact must exist to render summary judgment inappropriate." Moinette v. Elec. Data Sys. Corp., 90 F.3d 1173, 1177 (6th Cir. 1996).

DISCUSSION

FMLA Claims

Woodhaven argues that the FMLA claims cannot move forward because neither plaintiff requested FMLA leave, and both were being paid to work from home during their recovery period. (Docket No 23). The Plaintiffs respond that they did request FMLA leave, and that "whether an employee is being paid while on leave or is going to work at home during their recovery is wholly immaterial to FMLA. Rather, this statute simply provides that an employee must be ...


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