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THOMAS RICE v. WAYNE COUNTY

November 30, 2010

THOMAS RICE, PLAINTIFF,
v.
WAYNE COUNTY, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Michael A. Telesca United States District Judge Rochester, New York

DECISION and ORDER

Introduction

The original Complaint in this action named the Wayne Behavioral Health Network as a defendant. However, by Decision and Order dated March 3, 2010, I granted defendant Wayne Behavioral Health Network's motion to dismiss this case on grounds that it was an entity of a county government that lacked the capacity to be sued. I further held that plaintiff's Complaint failed to adequately allege a cause of action under the Family and Medical Leave Act ("FMLA"); and failed to allege a cause of action under the New York Human Rights Law, because the allegations set forth alleging a violation of that law were directed towards the federal Americans with Disabilities Act, and not New York State law. The Complaint was dismissed without prejudice to allow the plaintiff to name the correct defendant, and to cure the pleading deficiencies.

At the time I granted defendant's motion to dismiss portions of the Complaint, I granted, in-part, Plaintiff's motion to Amend his Complaint to comport with the law. I held that while plaintiff was free to amend his Complaint, he could not file the proposed Amended Complaint because it contained several of the same critical deficiencies as the original Complaint. Thereafter, the plaintiff filed an Amended Complaint. On July 27, 2010, I also denied plaintiff's motion requesting that my March 3, 2010 Decision and Order be corrected.

The defendant now moves to dismiss three of the four counts of of plaintiff's Amended Complaint on grounds that each cause fails to state claims upon which relief can be granted. Specifically, the defendant moves to dismiss plaintiff's claims under the New York State Human Rights Law, and claims for interference and retaliation under the FMLA. For the reasons set forth below, I grant defendant's motion to dismiss plaintiff's New York State Human Rights Law claims and claims for interference under the FMLA, but deny defendant's motion to dismiss plaintiff's claim for retaliation under the FMLA.

Background

The following facts were set forth in my July 27, 2010 Decision and Order. Plaintiff began his employment with the Wayne Behavioral Health Network as a Network Specialist in April 1997. Rice claims that his employer was aware that he suffered from a heart condition and bi-polar disorder. Sometime in mid-April, 2007, plaintiff claims that he took a leave of absence (for an unspecified period of time) from his employment due to his bi-polar disorder. He claims that when he returned to work, he was treated differently, and was considered suicidal by his supervisors. He claims that as a result of their misperception of his condition, he was relieved of most of his job responsibilities, was not allowed to work with his door closed, and was forced to undergo a psychiatric evaluation. Rice claims that as a result of the stress caused by the defendant's actions, he took another leave of absence, this time pursuant to the FMLA, on October 17, 2007. According to the defendant, he returned to work on or about January 2, 2008.

Upon plaintiff's return to work, he claims that he was given an ultimatum to either resign or be fired. On January 9, 2008, plaintiff resigned from his employment. In his resignation letter, plaintiff indicated that the resignation was on amicable terms. One week later, however, plaintiff wrote a follow-up letter indicating that he believed he had been constructively discharged. He now seeks damages for discrimination against him under the ADA, FMLA, and the New York Human Rights law.

Discussion

I. Standard for Motion to Dismiss In reviewing a motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, the Court must "accept...all factual allegations in the complaint and draw...all reasonable inferences in the plaintiff's favor." See Ruotolo v. City of New York, 514 F.3d 184, 188 (2d Cir.2008) (internal quotation marks omitted). In order to withstand dismissal, the complaint must plead "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." See Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 1974 (2007) (disavowing the oft-quoted statement from Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41 (1957), that "a complaint should not be dismissed for failure to state a claim 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").

"While a complaint attacked by a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss does not need detailed factual allegations, a plaintiff's obligation to provide the grounds of his entitlement to relief requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do." See id. at 1965 (internal quotation marks omitted). Thus, "at a bare minimum, the operative standard requires the 'plaintiff [to] provide the grounds upon which his claim rests through factual allegations sufficient to raise a right to relief above the speculative level.'" See Goldstein v. Pataki, 516 F.3d 50, 56-57 (2d Cir.2008) (quoting Twombly, 127 S.Ct. at 1974).

II. FMLA Claims

The Family Medical Leave Act, codified at 29 U.S.C. §§ 2601, et seq., entitles eligible employees to a total of 12 workweeks of leave during any 12-month period due to, inter alia, a serious health condition which interferes with the employee's ability to perform his job. 29 U.S.C. § 2612(a). The FMLA further prohibits employers from discriminating against employees on the basis of their exercising their rights under the FMLA. Rice claims that the defendant both interfered with his attempts to ...


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