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CAPASSO v. METROPOLITAN TRANSPORTATION AUTHORITY

April 12, 2002

KARN CAPASSO, PLAINTIFF
V.
METROPOLITAN TRANSPORTATION AUTHORITY OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, METRO-NORTH COMMUTER RAILROAD, JAMES O'DONNELL, IN HIS CAPACITY AS CHIEF OF POLICE OF THE MTA, AND INDIVIDUALLY, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: William C. Conner, U.S. District Judge

    OPINION AND ORDER

Plaintiff Karen Capasso brings the instant action against defendants Metropolitan Transportation Authority of the State of New York ("MTA"), Metro North Commuter Railroad ("Metro North") and James O'Donnell, individually and as Chief of Police of the MTA, pursuant to the Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA"), 29 U.S.C. § 201 et seq., 42 U.S.C. § 1983, the New York State Human Rights Law ("NYSHRL"), N.Y. Exec. Law § 296 et seq., and the Federal Employers Liability Act ("FELA"), 45 U.S.C. § 51 et seq. Plaintiff alleges that she was improperly denied overtime pay and "no-work" status for time spent confined to her home after she suffered a work-related injury. Defendants now move for summary judgment pursuant to FED.R.CIV.P. 56(b). For the reasons set forth below, defendants' motion is granted in part and denied in part.

BACKGROUND

The following facts are undisputed unless otherwise indicated.*fn1 Plaintiff was employed by Metro North as a member of the Metro North Police Department from July 1, 1992 until December 31, 1997, and has been employed as a member of the MTA Police Department ("MTAPD") since January 1, 1998. (Defs. Rule 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 5.) On December 13, 1998, plaintiff suffered a work-related injury. She has been on sick leave and has not performed her regular duties since that date. (Id. ¶ 6.) Pursuant to the MTA's generous sick leave policy, plaintiff has continued to receive her full salary, including pay raises, from the date of her injury. (Id; ¶ 7.)

In order to prevent malingering and to curb abuse of the sick leave policy, the MTA places restrictions on police officers out on sick leave. (Corcoran Dep. at 33.) On March 31, 1999, the MTAPD issued Interim Order #99-02 ("Order 99-02"). Order 99-02 provided, in relevant part, that:

All members of the Department shall report sick when suffering from illness or injury which would prevent the proper performance of duty. He/She shall telephone their respective Communications Desk Supervisor at least one (1) hour before the start of his/her scheduled tour. . . .
A member of the Department on the sick list shall be available daily . . . for sick investigation between the hours of 9:00 AM to 8:00 PM. . . .
Permission to temporarily leave his/her sick location for nonemergency medical attention or other necessities must be obtained in advance from the respective Region's Communication Desk Supervisor prior to departure. . . .
If a member is out of his/her sick location for more than three (3) hours, that member will again call the Desk Supervisor and make notification as to his/her present location and how much longer he/she will be out. . . .

(Galler Decl., Ex. F.) On October 21, 1999, the MTAPD issued Interim Order #99-06 ("Order 99-06"), a much more detailed regulation governing sick and injured leave, to replace Order 99-02. Order 99-06 provides, in relevant part:

1. Reporting Sick

a. A member of the Department shall report sick only when suffering from an illness or injury, which would prevent the proper performance of duty. . . .

2. Reporting Sick While Off Duty

When it is necessary for a member of the Department to report sick while off duty, the member shall:
a. Telephone the Communications Desk Supervisor at least one (1) hour before the start of his/her scheduled tour. . . .
b. Remain at reported sick location, except in extreme medical emergency, or when permission to leave has been granted by competent authority.

c. Provide Desk supervisor with the following information:

3. Present sick location, house number. . . . If other than his/her residence, member will supply the identity of the person/part(sic) he or she will be staying with.

5. Leaving Sick Location — Sick Investigation

a. A member of the Department on the Department sick list, shall be available for sick investigation between the hours of 9:00 AM and 8:00 PM to a Department supervisor, a Department physician, the MTA Medical Department, in person, or via phone at his/her reported location, unless otherwise directed.
c. Permission to temporarily leave his/her sick location for non-emergency medical attention or other necessities must be obtained in advance from the Communications Desk Supervisor prior to such departure. The member will state the reason for leaving, name of destination, the address, telephone number, and how long he/she will be out.
d. If a member is out of his/her sick location for more than three (3) hours, member will again call the Communications Desk Supervisor and make notification as to his/her present location ...

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