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Craig v. University of Connecticut Health Center

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

August 30, 2016




         Plaintiff, Raschinna Craig, has brought this lawsuit against her former employer, University of Connecticut Health Center (“UCH”), arising out of her treatment by UCH during her pregnancy. The Court dismissed all but one of her claims in its ruling on UCH's Motion to Dismiss. Ruling on Mot. to Dismiss, ECF No. 16. Ms. Craig's sole remaining claim is that UCH violated the Federal Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”), 29 U.S.C. § 2601 et seq., by terminating her before she could take maternity leave. Compl. at Count One, ECF No. 1. She seeks damages, costs, attorney's fees, and restoration to her previous position or an equivalent. Id. at Count One and Prayer for Relief.

         UCH now moves for summary judgment on this claim. Mot. for Summ. J., ECF No. 46. For the reasons that follow, the motion is GRANTED.

         I. Statement of Facts

         Plaintiff did not file a Local Rule 56(a)2 Statement as required by this Court's Local Rule 56(a)2. In absence of a Local Rule 56(a)2 Statement, “all material facts” set forth in the Local Rule 56(a)1 Statement that are supported by evidence in the record are admitted. See D. Conn. L. Civ. R. 56(a)1 (“all material facts set forth in [the movant's Local Rule 56(a)1 Statement] will be deemed admitted unless controverted by the statement required to be filed and served by the opposing party in accordance with Local Rule 56(a)2.”); see also e.g., Cashman v. Ricigliano, No. Civ. 3:02CV1423(MRK), 2004 WL 1920798, at *1 n.2 (D. Conn. Aug. 25, 2004) (deeming facts in a Local Rule 56(a)1 Statement admitted because the opposing party did not file a Local Rule 56(a)2 Statement); August v. Dep't of Corrections, 424 F.Supp.2d 363, 365 n.2 (D. Conn. 2006) (same); see also Vt. Teddy Bear Co. v. 1-800 BEARGRAM Co., 373 F.3d 241, 244 (2d Cir. 2004) (in adjudicating motions for summary judgment, courts “must be satisfied that the citation to evidence in the record supports the assertion”). Accordingly, the following facts are taken from UCH's Local Rule 56(a)1 Statement, as supported by the evidence submitted by the parties.

         Ms. Craig began working for UCH in November 2001 and was promoted to various positions during her tenure there. Def.'s Local Rule 56(a)1 Stmt. ¶¶1-2, ECF No. 50. Ms. Craig also gave birth to one child in September 2009 and another in December 2010. Id. ¶¶ 15, 87.

         On January 7, 2009, Ms. Craig's supervisor e-mailed her information about FMLA leave. Id. ¶10. Ms. Craig responded that she had doctor's appointments coming up to address her “chronic back pain” and “chronic headaches” and that she wished she had known she was eligible for FMLA leave “awhile ago.” Id. ¶11.

         In the months leading up to the birth of her child in September 2009, Ms. Craig worked fewer hours than she had in the past and took ten sick days and twenty-four unpaid sick days. Id. ¶¶ 17-18. On August 18, 2009, she began a maternity leave under the Federal FMLA, because she was experiencing breathing complications, chest pain, and extreme fatigue related to the pregnancy. Id. ¶¶ 14, 16, 20. In support of this maternity leave, she submitted all of the forms UCH required, including a medical certificate from her doctor. Id. ¶¶ 27-28, 33.

         Ms. Craig returned to work from this maternity leave on January 8, 2010, having exhausted her Federal FMLA leave for the year. Id. ¶ 21.[1] Shortly after returning to work, Ms. Craig became pregnant again and gave birth to another child in December 2010. Id. ¶ 82.

         She testified that, in April 2010, she discussed the pregnancy and her interest in FMLA leave in the future with Joann LaMere, who was responsible for approving FMLA leaves at UCH. Def.'s Ex. A, Craig Dep. 42:2-43:-2, ECF No. 51-2. LaMere has not confirmed this conversation took place anywhere in the record. Ms. Craig also testified that she did not tell anyone else at UCH about her pregnancy and possible need for leave in the future. Id. at 102:2-5. There is no other evidence in the record indicating that she told anyone she was pregnant until October 2010.

         Upon her return from her initial maternity leave, Ms. Craig was scheduled to work 30 hours a week, six hours per workday. Def.'s Local Rule 56(a)1 Stmt. ¶ 39, ECF No. 50. Ms. Craig testified that she arranged a reduced work schedule with UCH so that she could parent her children. Pl.'s Ex. 4, Craig Decl. ¶¶ 1-4, ECF No. 56.

         Ms. Craig's time records reveal, that after returning from maternity leave, except for one week in February 2010, she worked less than the 30 hours per week that UCH expected until August 2010. Def.'s Local Rule 56(a)1 Stmt. ¶ 40, ECF No. 50. In April 2010, Ms. Craig's supervisor held a meeting with her and “several others” to address concerns about her time and attendance at work. Id. ¶ 43. She was told that her attendance needed to improve immediately and that she could contact LaMere to determine whether she qualified for additional FMLA leave. Id. ¶¶ 44-45.

         On May 12, 2010, Ms. Craig's supervisor followed up with Ms. Craig in a memorandum, indicating that her attendance had not improved and reminding her that she needed to provide a medical certificate for any absence related to illness. Id. ¶¶46-47. The memorandum also indicated that “[u]nauthorized days without pay are grounds for dismissal from employment.” Id. ¶47.

         On October 20, 2010, Ms. Craig e-mailed Joann LaMere to ask about her eligibility for leave under the Federal FMLA. Id. ¶ 48. LaMere responded that she was ineligible for Federal FMLA leave at the time, because she had not worked more than 1, 250 hours during the year preceding the request. Id. ¶ 49. LaMere also explained that, under Connecticut's FMLA, Ms. Craig was entitled to four more weeks of leave until August 18, 2011. Id. Ms. Craig asked LaMere for the required forms to apply for FMLA leave, which she provided to her. Id. ¶¶ 50-51. These forms were similar to the ones Ms. Craig had filled out for her maternity leave the previous year. Id. ΒΆ 51. LaMere also reiterated that Ms. Craig was only entitled to four weeks of leave under the ...

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