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Bishop v. New Process Gear

November 18, 2009

ROBERT H. BISHOP, PLAINTIFF,
v.
NEW PROCESS GEAR, INC., DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hon. Glenn T. Suddaby, United States District Judge

MEMORANDUM DECISION and ORDER

Currently before the Court in this employment discrimination action filed by Robert H. Bishop ("Plaintiff") is a motion for summary judgment filed by New Process Gear, Inc. ("Defendant"). (Dkt. No. 21.) For the reasons set forth below, Defendant's motion is granted, and Plaintiff's Complaint is dismissed.

I. RELEVANT BACKGROUND

A. Plaintiff's Complaint

Liberally construed, Plaintiff's Complaint generally alleges that Defendant violated Plaintiff's rights under the Family and Medical Leave Act, 29 U.S.C. §§ 2601-2654 ("FMLA"), and 29 C.F.R. Part 825 ("Regulations"), by terminating his employment on March 1, 2006, for missing work because of a serious medical condition on February 21, 2006, without first granting him 12 weeks of paid medical leave. (Dkt. No. 1, Part 1, at 7-13 [Plf.'s Verified Petition].)

B. Undisputed Material Facts

Unless otherwise noted, the following recitation of undisputed material facts derives from a comparison of Defendant's evidence-supported factual assertions in its Statement of Material Facts ("Rule 7.1 Statement") and Plaintiff's response thereto ("Rule 7.1 Response"). (Compare Dkt. No. 21, Part 4 [containing Def.'s Rule 7.1 Statement] with Dkt. No. 24 [Plf.'s Rule 7.1 Response].)

On February 7, 2005, Plaintiff received a formal written warning from his employer, Defendant. On April 1, 2005, Plaintiff was subjected to a ten-day disciplinary layoff. On October 21, 2005, Plaintiff was issued a "Final Chance Warning." On January 6, 2006, Plaintiff was discharged by Defendant.

On February 10, 2006, Plaintiff and Defendant signed a "Last Chance Settlement Agreement" (the "Agreement"), which reinstated Plaintiff's employment as of February 13, 2006, through a grievance procedure, subject to certain the terms and conditions. Among other things, the Agreement provided,

You are expected to be at work on time everyday. If you are unavoidably absent or tardy, you must notify the plant at least one hour prior to your scheduled start time by calling your supervisor . . . . Any failure to notify your supervisor prior to an absence or tardiness will be grounds for discharge. . . .*fn1

On February 21, 2006, Plaintiff's scheduled start time was 6:30 a.m.*fn2 At 5:50 a.m., he knew that he would not be reporting to work that day due to a hemorrhoid condition.*fn3 However, it was not until 6:35 a.m. that he left a voicemail message with his supervisor indicating that he would not be reporting to work that day due to a hemorrhoid condition.*fn4

On March 1, 2006, Plaintiff was discharged by Defendant. The stated reason for the discharge was Plaintiff's "failure to abide by the terms and conditions of [his] last chance letter [of February 10, 2006]."*fn5

C. Defendant's Motion

Generally, in support of its motion for summary judgment, Defendant essentially advances the following argument: (1) even assuming that Plaintiff's hemorrhoid condition was FMLA-eligible, under the relevant provisions of the FMLA, Plaintiff had to give Defendant notice of his need for leave as soon as practicable under the facts and circumstances of his particular case; (2) here, Plaintiff did not do so in that he knew at 5:50 a.m. that he would not go into work on February 21, 2006, but did not give Defendant notice of that fact until 6:35 a.m. (five minutes after his shift started); and (3) the unreasonableness of Plaintiff's notice is further demonstrated by the fact that it violated his Last Chance Settlement Agreement with Defendant. (Dkt. No. 21, Part 5, at 8-12 [attaching pages "5" through "9" of Def.'s Memo. of Law].)

In Plaintiff's response to Defendant's motion for summary judgment, he essentially argues that it was impracticable for Plaintiff, before 6:35 a.m., to give notice of his need for leave under the FMLA, because his anal pain was excruciating and unbearable. (Dkt. No. 23, at 8-10 [attaching pages "5" through "7" of Plf.'s Memo. of Law].)

II. GOVERNING LEGAL STANDARDS

A. Legal Standard Governing Motions for Summary Judgment

For the sake of brevity, and because the parties to this action have demonstrated an accurate understanding of the legal standard governing motions for summary judgment, the Court will not recite that well-known legal standard in this Decision and Order, but will direct the reader to the Court's recent decision in Pitts v. Onondaga County Sheriff's Dep't, 04-CV-0828, 2009 WL ...


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