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Brady v. Bath Iron Works Corp.

United States District Court, D. Maine

May 25, 2016

DAVID BRADY, Plaintiff,
v.
BATH IRON WORKS CORPORATION, Defendant.

          ORDER ON MOTION TO DISMISS

          Nancy Torresen United States Chief District Judge

         Before the Court is the Defendant’s motion to dismiss the Plaintiff’s Complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted (ECF No. 7). For the reasons stated below, the motion is DENIED.

         BACKGROUND

         The Plaintiff in this case is David Brady, a carpenter who worked for Defendant Bath Iron Works for nearly 26 years. Compl. ¶ 5 (ECF No. 1). Bath Iron Works is primarily located in Bath, Maine and has more than 500 employees; it is a wholly-owned subsidiary of General Dynamics Corporation. Compl. ¶ 7. This case arises out of a dispute between Brady and his employer over his use of leave time pursuant to the Family and Medical Leave Act, 29 U.S.C. §§ 2601-2654 (the “FMLA”) and the Maine Family Medical Leave Act, 26 M.R.S.A. §§ 843-848 (the “MFMLA”).

         Brady started working for Bath Iron Works in 1989. Compl. ¶ 8. Towards the end of 2014, he began to suffer from “chronic, serious mental health conditions, including depression and anxiety.” Compl. ¶ 9. Brady sought medical treatment for these health conditions, and sometime in 2014 Bath Iron Works certified his request for intermittent leave pursuant to the FMLA and MFMLA. Compl. ¶¶ 10-11.[1]

         On June 23, 2015, Brady again requested certification for intermittent FMLA[2]leave for his health condition. Compl. ¶ 12. Specifically, he completed the Bath Iron Works “Medical Certification Form” in cooperation with Dr. Alice Franklin, his primary care physician. Compl. ¶ 13. On this form, Dr. Franklin noted that Brady “suffered from depression and anxiety, that these conditions were partially related to work, that he had been prescribed a regimen of continuing treatment, that he would need leave for exacerbation of his condition as well as for ongoing treatment, and that he took prescription medication to manage his condition.” Compl. ¶ 14. Dr. Franklin further noted that Brady’s condition is “chronic and indefinite[, ]” and she estimated that he would need 3 days (24 hours) per month of leave, taken either as partial or full days, depending on his symptoms. Compl. ¶¶ 15-16. Bath Iron Works notifies employees requesting leave that it “may ask for a second or third opinion at BIW’s expense if it questions the medical certification[, ]” but it did not do so in Brady’s case. Compl. ¶ 18.

         On June 26, 2015, Brady started his regular 7 a.m. shift at the Bath work site. Compl. ¶ 19. Later that morning, “he began to experience debilitating and incapacitating exacerbation of his stress and anxiety.” Compl. ¶ 19. Brady went to Bath Iron Works’s FMLA office and confirmed that his intermittent FMLA leave paperwork had been processed and that he was authorized to take leave. Compl. ¶ 20. At around 11 a.m., Brady determined that his condition warranted using his FMLA leave. Compl. ¶ 21. Brady informed his “lead man” and supervisor that he would be taking FMLA leave for the rest of the day; neither objected. Compl. ¶ 22. Before he left, Brady loaded his car with scrap wood that Bath Iron Works makes available to employees. Compl. ¶ 23. Brady next proceeded to Bath Iron Works’s “clock out” house, where he ran into a coworker who was also leaving work. Compl. ¶ 24. They decided to go get lunch together. Compl. ¶ 24.

         Shortly after he left, employees in Bath Iron Works’s labor relations department learned that Brady may be at a local restaurant. Compl. ¶ 25. Bath Iron Works ordered a labor relations specialist and a labor relations legal specialist to go to the restaurant to see if Brady was there. Compl. ¶ 25. The Bath Iron Works labor relations employees found Brady at the restaurant shortly after noon and observed him from a distance. Compl. ¶¶ 26-28. Neither spoke to Brady or got within earshot of him. Compl. ¶ 28. Once at the restaurant, Brady decided not to eat because of his stress and anxiety, though the Bath Iron Works labor relations employees alleged that he drank a beer. Compl. ¶¶ 29-30. As part of their surveillance, the labor relations employees took photographs of Brady’s car and of the spot in the restaurant where he and his coworker sat. Compl. ¶ 31.

         Later that same day, Bath Iron Works Industrial Physician, Dr. Nia Foderingham, faxed a letter to Brady’s primary care physician “seeking clarification” of her “intent with respect to” Brady’s intermittent leave and accusing Brady of “utilizing his FMLA for the purpose of spending time at the local bar.” Compl. ¶¶ 33-34. Dr. Franklin (Brady’s primary care physician) responded to Bath Iron Works’s inquiry on June 30, 2015, and explained that stress at work aggravates Brady’s condition. Compl. ¶ 35.

         Brady reported to work on Saturday, June 27, 2015, the day after he took FMLA leave. Compl. ¶ 36. When he tried to enter the work site, he discovered that his badge had been deactivated. Compl. ¶ 36. He went to security to try and figure out what the problem was, but they did not know either, and said they could not allow him on the premises. Compl. ¶ 37. On Monday, June 29, 2015, Brady met with members of Bath Iron Works’s labor relations management team to discuss his use of intermittent FMLA leave on June 26th. Compl. ¶ 39. Brady’s union representatives were also present. Compl. ¶ 39. Brady answered questions from Bath Iron Works personnel about how he used his leave time on the 26th. Compl. ¶ 40. He was not asked about his mental health condition or how it related to his need for FMLA leave. Compl. ¶ 42. At the conclusion of the meeting, Bath Iron Works suspended Brady “pending investigation for possible FMLA fraud.” Compl. ¶ 41. At this point, Bath Iron Works had not yet received a response from Brady’s primary care physician about how his use of leave was related to his medical condition. Compl. ¶ 35.

         On July 8, 2015, a week and a half after the June 29th meeting, Dr. Foderingham sent the Bath Iron Works labor relations department an email “concluding that Mr. Brady’s use of FMLA was not consistent with the temporary approval granted by the BIW office.” Compl. ¶ 43. Dr. Foderingham reached this conclusion without speaking to Brady or his primary care physician about his use of leave time. Compl. ¶ 44. That same day, Bath Iron Works terminated Brady’s employment. Compl. ¶ 45.

         LEGAL STANDARD

         Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), a complaint may be dismissed for “failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.” In order to state a claim, a plaintiff must satisfy Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)’s limited notice pleading standard that requires “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” While a complaint need not set forth “detailed factual allegations, ” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007), “it must nonetheless ‘contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.’ ” SEC v. Tambone, 597 F.3d 436, 422 (1st Cir. 2010) (en banc) (quoting Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009)). Applying this standard requires two steps: first, “ ‘isolate and ignore statements in the complaint that simply offer legal labels and conclusions or merely rehash cause-of-action elements[, ]’ ” and second, “take the facts of the complaint as true, ‘drawing all reasonable inferences in [plaintiff’s] favor, and see if they plausibly narrate a claim for relief.’ ” Carrero-Ojeda v. Autoridad de Energía Eléctrica, 755 F.3d 711, 717 (1st Cir. 2014) (quoting Schatzv. Republican State Leadership Comm., 669 F.3d 50, 55 (1st Cir. 2012)). In evaluating plausibility, particularly in the employment discrimination context, courts should be mindful of the facts the plaintiff is likely to know, versus the facts that are likely out of the plaintiff’s reach at the pleading stage. See Khalik v. United Air Lines, 671 F.3d 1188, 1193-94 (10th Cir. 2012) (noting that employment discrimination plaintiffs are likely to know, for example, when they requested leave and for what ...


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