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Owen v. GE Aviation

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

January 14, 2020

SHELIA OWEN PLAINTIFF
v.
GE AVIATION DEFENDANT

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          Joseph H. McKinley Jr., Senior Judge

         This matter is before the Court on Defendant GE Aviation's Motion for Summary Judgment. [DN 23]. Fully briefed, this matter is ripe for decision. For the following reasons, GE's Motion for Summary Judgment is GRANTED.

         I. Background

         Plaintiff Shelia Owen was employed by GE when they implemented a new attendance policy. [DN 1 at 2-3, DN 22-2 at 8]. The new policy is as follows:

• Excessive Absence Notice (EAN) issued when an employee accumulates five unexcused absences in a calendar year;
• Warning Notice #1 issued when an employee accumulates six unexcused absences in a calendar year and has been issued an EAN;
• Warning Notice #2 issued when an employee accumulates four additional unexcused absences with 365 active days of receiving Warning Notice #1;
• Warning Notice #3 (Disciplinary Time Off) issued when an employee accumulates two additional unexcused absences within 365 active days of receiving Warning Notice #2;
• Warning Notice #4 (Discharge) occurs when an employee accumulates two additional unexcused absences within 365 active days of receiving Warning Notice #3.

[DN 22-2 at 9].

         The policy detailed that absences that would not be charged to an employee included paid absences under the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA). [Id. at 10]. The CBA provides for paid absences for the death of certain family members such as siblings. [Id. at 7]. GE provided Owen with a notice of the new policy and she understood it. [DN 22 Pl. Dep. 55:2-6, 57:24-58:2].

         Within in a month of the new attendance policy being in effect, Owen received an EAN. [DN 22-2 at 14]. Owen later received a Warning Notice #1, Warning Notice #2, and Warning Notice #3. [Id. at 15-17]. Owen served a five-day suspension March 21-25, 2016 for the Warning Notice #3. [Id. at 17]. Owen does not dispute any of the unexcused absences that she received that led to receiving the EAN or the Warning Notices. [DN 22 Pl. Dep. 58:22-61:3].

         Owen was absent from work March 28-30, 2016 because of the death of a family member. [DN 22 Pl. Dep. 63:18-64:10]. The funeral was March 23, 2016, while she was suspended from work. [DN 22-2 at 36]. When GE began investigating Owen's three-day bereavement leave, Owen initially claimed that the family member was her adopted brother. [DN 22-2 at 30]. But GE learned and Owen later testified that the family member was actually her cousin. [DN 22 Pl. Dep. 64:21-73:20]. The CBA does not provide bereavement leave for the death of a cousin. [DN 22-2 at 7]. So, GE terminated Owen per the new attendance policy. [Id. at 37].

         Owen sued GE alleging race and age discrimination. [DN 1]. GE now ...


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