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Boyne v. Town and Country Pediatrics and Family Medicine

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

February 7, 2017



          Michael P. Shea, U.S.D.J.

         Plaintiff Michelle Boyne filed a two-count Second Amended Complaint against her former employer, Town and Country Pediatrics and Family Medicine, alleging violations of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e, et seq. (Count One) and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. §12101, et seq. (“ADA”) (Count Two). Defendant moves to dismiss Plaintiff's Second Amended Complaint (“SAC”). (ECF No. 28.) For the reasons stated below, the Court DENIES Defendant's Motion to Dismiss. (ECF No. 31.)

         I. BACKGROUND

         A. Factual Background

         The following factual allegations are taken from the SAC. Plaintiff is a resident of the City of Bristol, Connecticut. (SAC, ECF No. 28 ¶ 2.) Defendant is a Connecticut corporation that administers medical services. (Id. at ¶ 3.) Plaintiff began her employment with Defendant as a full time medical assistant in November 2010. (Id. at ¶ 6.) She was initially employed through Jackie Matchett Personnel Service, and was officially hired by Defendant on March 14, 2011. (Id. at ¶ 6-7.)

         In December 2011, Plaintiff had pregnancy complications and was placed on light work duty. (Id. at ¶ 8.) At that time, she was diagnosed with HELLP Syndrome, “a life-threatening pregnancy condition and disability that is a permanent diagnosis.” (Id. at ¶ 9.) Due to HELLP Syndrome, during pregnancy the Plaintiff suffers from severe abdominal pain, a swollen liver, headaches, tiredness, nausea, and ulcers. (Id. at ¶ 11.) In December 2011, the Plaintiff informed the Defendant about her diagnosis with HELLP Syndrome and how it would affect her pregnancy and future pregnancies. (Id. at ¶ 12.) On December 31, 2011, the Plaintiff gave birth to a severely premature son due to HELLP Syndrome. (Id. at ¶ 13.) Her son did not survive birth. (Id. at ¶ 14.) Plaintiff returned to work and was placed on “light duty work with intermittent leave, ” which the Defendant accommodated. (Id. at ¶ 15-16.) Plaintiff was able to perform the essential functions of her job while on light duty. (Id. at ¶17.)

         Plaintiff discovered that she was pregnant again in September 2013. (Id. at ¶ 18.) She was “nervous” to tell Defendant because of her ongoing HELLP Syndrome, and she feared that missing work could result in losing her job. (Id. at ¶ 19.) She informed Defendant of her pregnancy in January 2014. (Id. at ¶ 20.) As of January 2014, Plaintiff was working 39.5 hours per week for the Defendant. (Id. at ¶ 21.) 26 of those hours were spent performing receptionist duties and 13.5 were spent performing medical assistant duties. (Id. at ¶ 22.)

         On January 31, 2014, Plaintiff had to leave work due to severe stomach pains related to her pregnancy. (Id. at ¶ 23.) Her obstetrician and gynecologist (“OBGYN”) excused her from work from January 31 to February 5, 2014, due to medical issues from her pregnancy and HELLP Syndrome. (Id. at ¶ 23-24.) Plaintiff's OBGYN also required her to be on light duty for the remainder of her pregnancy, meaning that she could not bend or lift anything because it would aggravate her liver function and cause her pain. (Id. at ¶ 25, 27.) She called Malkie Scher (“Scher”), the Defendant's office manager, to inform her of these restrictions. (Id. at ¶ 26.) Plaintiff's OBGYN provided Defendant with out of work notes and light duty restrictions. (Id. at ¶ 28.) Plaintiff was able to perform the essential functions of her job while on light duty and with a reasonable accommodation. (Id. at ¶ 30.)

         On February 4, 2014, Plaintiff received a call from Scher who told her that Dr. Ephraim P. Bartfeld, a doctor for the Defendant, would not allow Plaintiff to return to work until her light duty restrictions were lifted. (Id. at ¶ 29.) Plaintiff requested that she be allowed to work the 26 hours per week of her schedule as a receptionist, as that did not require any bending or lifting. (Id. at ¶ 31.) Her request was denied, and Defendant did not allow her to return to work at all, because Scher stated that the Defendant did not want to “risk it.” (Id. at ¶ 33-34.)

         On March 10, 2014, Plaintiff gave birth to a premature daughter, who contracted necrotizing enterocolitis (“NEC”) and passed away on March 27, 2014. (Id. at ¶ 35-36.) On April 18, 2014, Plaintiff's OBGYN released her back to work with the same light duty restrictions of no bending or lifting because of her recovery from HELLP Syndrome. (Id. at ¶ 37.) At that time, Plaintiff asked Scher if she could return to work for the 26 hours a week that she had performed receptionist duties. (Id. at ¶ 38-40.) Her request was again denied, and Scher informed Plaintiff that Defendant had hired a new receptionist. (Id. at ¶ 42.)

         Throughout April and May of 2014, Plaintiff remained in contact with Scher about her employment status. (Id. at ¶ 43.) On June 12, 2014, Plaintiff sent Scher a text message informing her that Plaintiff's OBGYN would lift her light duty restrictions on July 7, 2014, and that she could return to work on that date. (Id. at ¶ 44.) When Scher did not respond to the message, Plaintiff contacted Scher again on June 13 and June 16, 2014, to ask about her employment status. (Id. at ¶ 46.) On June 17, 2014, after Scher failed to respond, Plaintiff contacted Gabrielle Ministro (“Ministro”), an employee of Defendant, informed Ministro of her anticipated return to work date, and told her that Scher had not responded. (Id. at ¶ 48.) Ministro told the Plaintiff that she would inform the Defendant. (Id. at ¶ 49.) When Plaintiff contacted Ministro again on June 18, 2014, she was told that Dr. Bartfeld was handling her employment. (Id. at ¶ 50.) Plaintiff then contacted Dr. Bartfeld that same day. (Id. at ¶ 51.) Dr. Bartfeld informed Plaintiff that Defendant had filled her position. (Id. at ¶ 52.) He asked her to call back on June 20, 2014. (Id. at ¶ 52.) Plaintiff called back on June 20, 2014, and Dr. Bartfeld asked her to provide a doctor's note clearing her to return to her regular duties. (Id. at ¶ 53.) He also informed her that the only hours Defendant could provide her were on Sundays, meaning that Plaintiff's hours would decrease from 39.5 hours to six or seven hours a week. (Id. at ¶ 54.) On June 30, 2014, Plaintiff received a letter from Defendant stating that her employment with Defendant was terminated. (Id. at ¶ 55.) Defendant has hired two new receptionists and a new medical assistant. (Id. at ¶ 56.)

         B. Procedural History

         Plaintiff filed an administrative complaint with the Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities (“CHRO”) and Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) on July 18, 2014. (Id. at ¶ 5.) Plaintiff received a Dismissal and Notice of Rights letter dated August 17, 2015. (Id.) Plaintiff filed her original complaint on October 5, 2015. (ECF No. 1.) On January 13, 2016, Defendant filed a Motion for a More Definite Statement. (ECF No. 19.) The Court granted the motion and ordered the Plaintiff to “submit an amended complaint that sets forth clearly which causes of action she seeks to plead.” (ECF No. 20.) Plaintiff filed an amended complaint (ECF No. 21), and Defendant filed a Motion to Dismiss under Rules 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. (ECF No. 22.) Thereafter, the Court gave Plaintiff an opportunity to file an amended complaint “to address the alleged defects discussed in Defendants' memorandum of law” (ECF No. 24), and she did so on March 10, 2016. (SAC, ECF No. 28.) On March 24, 2016, the Defendant renewed its motion to dismiss the SAC and incorporated by reference its prior brief.[1](ECF No. 23.)

         II. ...

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