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WOODFORD v. COMMUNITY ACTION OF GREENE COUNTY

February 3, 2000

IVA WOODFORD, PLAINTIFF,
V.
COMMUNITY ACTION OF GREENE COUNTY, INC.; BOARD OF DIRECTORS OF COMMUNITY ACTION OF GREENE COUNTY, INC.; EDWARD J. DALY; ROSEMARY BLOIS; ROBERT C. SCHROCK; ANNE YON; WILLIAM REICH; RUDOLPH MONTELEONE; LAURETTE SUDDS; THOMAS YANDEAU; PENNY FRIEDRICH; ELEANOR VAN SCHAACK; DONNA RUMMO-FAULKNER; KARLENE SCHNUR; ANDREW DRESSER; ELAINE FARLEY, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Kahn, District Judge.

MEMORANDUM — DECISION AND ORDER

The Court must here determine whether Plaintiff Ms. Iva Woodford was an eligible employee for purposes of the Family and Medical Leave Act. This requires an assessment of the relevance of Plaintiff's time sheets to the question of whether she worked the minimum number of hours required to qualify under the act. The Court must also determine whether Defendants may have improperly interfered with Plaintiff's rights when they suspended her from work, and whether they provided her with timely notice, when she sought leave, that they might not restore her to her job at the end of her leave. Finally, the Court must determine whether Plaintiff may be liable to Defendants for any false or defamatory statements she has made in prosecuting this action.

I. Background

Plaintiff in this action claims that Defendants violated her rights under the Family and Medical Leave Act ("FMLA"), 29 U.S.C. § 2601 to 2654, and also asserts a supplemental state law claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress, based on Defendants' conduct pursuant to their purported violations of the FMLA. Defendants have made a counterclaim for defamation in the form of libel, alleging false and defamatory statements made in connection with this action.

Plaintiff Ms Woodford was employed by Defendant Community Action of Greene County, Inc. ("CAGC") from March 1985 to 15 January 1998. She was a teacher until 1987, and then was promoted to day care Director. She was promoted to Head Start Director in 1988, and held that job until her employment with CAGC ended. The individual Defendants are or were members of the CAGC Board of Directors.

Disputes related to the present action arose in 1996. Plaintiff alleged improper conduct on the part of one the Defendants; Defendants instituted disciplinary actions against Plaintiff. Plaintiff claims that stress arising from these incidents led to extreme mental and physical problems, and on that basis she sought leave under the FMLA in November 1997. Defendants initially rejected her application for leave, and required that she return to work. Defendants subsequently granted leave, but told her she had no right under the FMLA to be restored to her position once her leave ended. As the dispute over Plaintiff's application for FMLA leave continued, and Plaintiff remained away from work, Defendants hired an interim Head Start Director. Eventually, in January 1998, Defendants denied Plaintiff's request to be restored to her position as Director pursuant to the FMLA.

Plaintiff filed this action 9 February 1998. The Court has jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1331. Plaintiff seeks damages, punitive damages, and such other relief as the Court may deem just and proper. Defendants in their counterclaim seek damages and such other relief as the Court may deem just and proper.

II. Motions

Now before the Court are Defendants' motions for summary judgment and Plaintiff's cross motion to dismiss Defendants' counterclaim.

A. Standards of Decision

1. Dismissal

A motion to dismiss pursuant to Fed. R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) for "failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted," must be denied "unless it appears beyond doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of his claim which would entitle him to relief." Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 45-46, 78 S.Ct. 99, 2 L.Ed.2d 80 (1957). (Black, J.) In assessing the sufficiency of a pleading, "all factual allegations in the complaint must be taken as true," LaBounty v. Adler, 933 F.2d 121, 123 (2d Cir. 1991), and all reasonable inferences must be construed in favor of the plaintiff. Scheuer v. Rhodes, 416 U.S. 232, 236, 94 S.Ct. 1683, 40 L.Ed.2d 90 (1974); see also Bankers Trust Co. v. Rhoades, 859 F.2d 1096, 1099 (2d Cir. 1988), (applying the principle of construing inferences in favor of plaintiff) cert. denied sub nom. Soifer v. Bankers Trust Co., 490 U.S. 1007, 109 S.Ct. 1642, 104 L.Ed.2d 158 (1989).

[C]onsideration is limited to the factual allegations in [the] complaint, which are accepted as true, to documents attached to the complaint as an exhibit or incorporated in it by reference, to matters of which judicial notice may be taken, or to documents either in plaintiffs' ...

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