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Workneh v. Super Shuttle International, Inc.

United States District Court, S.D. New York

December 27, 2017

ELIAS A. WORKNEH, Plaintiff,


          Edgardo Ramos, U.S.D.J. United States District Judge

         Pro se plaintiff Elias A. Workneh brings this suit against defendants Super Shuttle International, Inc. (“Super Shuttle”), Veolia Transport (“Veolia”), and New York City Airporter (“Airporter, ” and collectively “Defendants”), alleging employment discrimination on the basis of his race, color, and national origin, and retaliation for complaining about said discrimination, all in violation of the New York State Human Rights Law (“NYSHRL”) and the New York City Human Rights Law (“NYCHRL”), and violations of the Family Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”). Pending before the Court is Defendants' motion to dismiss Plaintiff's FMLA claim, as plead in his Third Amended Complaint (“TAC”). Doc. 99. For the reasons set forth below, Defendants' motion to dismiss Plaintiff's FMLA claim is GRANTED. Plaintiff will not be given another opportunity to replead his FMLA claim.

         I. Background

         The Court presumes familiarity with its Opinion and Order filed on September 30, 2016 (the “September 30 Order”), Doc. 68, and its Opinion and Order filed on March 28, 2017 (the “March 28 Order”), Doc. 88, which detail the facts and procedural history of this case, and discusses here only those facts necessary for its disposition of the instant motion.[1]

         Plaintiff asserts that Defendants violated the FMLA on three occasions from January through July 2013 by directing him to report to work while he was sick. TA C a t 2 0 -22.[2] First, he alleges that in January 2013, he requested sick leave via text message, but was scheduled to work and did report to work while taking over-the-counter medications. Id. at 20.

         Second, Plaintiff alleges that in February 2013, he spent one night at the hospital “with a serious health condition” and the doctor ordered him to stay home for more than two weeks to recover.[3] Id. at 20, 23. According to Plaintiff, he requested time off, but was nonetheless directed to report to work. Id. at 20. When he reported to work, he provided his supervisors with a doctor's note and a copy of medications he was prescribed to show that “he was in serious health condition.” Id. However, while he was on leave, he was directed late one evening to open the facility at 4:30 a.m. Id. He called his supervisors to remind them of his status but did not receive a call back, so he reported at 4:30 a.m. to open the facility, and then called to have another supervisor replace him because he was on medication. Id. at 21. He left that day at 8:00 a.m. Id.

         Third, Plaintiff alleges that in July 2013, he was asked if he could postpone his vacation by one week. Id. He said that he could not because his vacation coincided with his “post-surgery appointment.” Id. It was during that vacation that he was terminated. Id.

         II. Procedural History

         Plaintiff filed his initial Complaint on April 24, 2015 (“Compl.”). Doc. 2. It alleged that Defendants discriminated against him on the basis of his race, color, and national origin by (1) failing to promote him; (2) retaliating against him; (3) terminating him; and (4) creating a hostile work environment, all in violation of Title VII and the New York City Human Rights Law (“NYCHRL”). Compl. at 1-3. He also alleged a violation of the FMLA. Id. at 3. The Complaint only named Super Shuttle and Airporter as defendants, and did not request a trial by jury. Id. at 1. On June 19, 2015, prior to Defendants being served, Plaintiff filed a “Notice of Motion to Amendment, ” seeking leave to amend the Complaint to add Veolia as a defendant, to request a trial by jury, and to allege a violation of the New York State Human Rights Law (“NYSHRL”). Doc. 9. The Court granted the motion at a hearing on December 8, 2015, and the Amended Complaint was docketed on December 11, 2015. Doc. 28.

         Defendant Super Shuttle moved to dismiss the Amended Complaint on January 12, 2016, Doc. 31, and Defendants Veolia and Airporter moved to dismiss on August 15, 2016. Doc. 61. In its September 30 Order, the Court dismissed Plaintiff's Title VII discrimination claims against defendant Super Shuttle with prejudice because Plaintiff failed to bring suit within 90 days of the issuance of the right to sue letter by the EEOC. See Doc. 68, at 10-11. The Court also determined that Plaintiff had adequately pleaded his retaliation claim, but dismissed the NYSHRL, NYCHRL, and FMLA claims without prejudice. Id. at 19-20.

         Plaintiff filed a Second Amended Complaint (“SAC”) on November 4, 2016, and Defendants moved to dismiss Plaintiff's NYSHRL, NYCHRL, and FMLA claims. Doc. 74. In its March 28 Order, the Court determined that Plaintiff had met the “exceedingly low” bar of demonstrating a plausible minimal inference of discrimination based on race, color, and national origin, and denied Defendants' motion to dismiss the discrimination claims. Doc. 88. at 7. However, the Court dismissed Plaintiff's FMLA claim because Plaintiff failed to provide any information concerning the condition that he suffered from, much less that it was a “serious medical condition” as required by the FMLA. Doc. 88 at 12-13. Plaintiff repleaded his FMLA claim in a Third Amended Complaint (“TAC”) filed on May 30, 2017, Doc. 93, and Defendants moved to dismiss on July 12, 2017. Doc. 99.[4]

         III. Legal Standard

         When ruling on a motion to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), the court must accept all factual allegations in the complaint as true and draw all reasonable inferences in the plaintiff's favor. Nielsen v. Rabin, 746 F.3d 58, 62 (2d Cir. 2014). The court is not required to credit “mere conclusory statements” or “threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citing Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)); see also Id. at 681 (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 551). “To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter . . . to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'” Id. at 678 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570). A claim is facially plausible “when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Id. (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). More specifically, the plaintiff must allege sufficient facts to show “more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully.” Id. If the plaintiff has not “nudged [his] claims across the line from conceivable to plausible, [the] complaint must be dismissed.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570; Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 680.

         The question in a Rule 12 motion to dismiss “is not whether a plaintiff will ultimately prevail but whether the claimant is entitled to offer evidence to support the claims.” Sikhs for Justice v. Nath, 893 F.Supp.2d 598, 615 (S.D.N.Y. 2012) (quoting Villager Pond, Inc. v. Town of Darien, 56 F.3d 375, 278 (2d Cir. 1995)) (internal quotation marks omitted). β€œ[T]he purpose of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) β€˜is to test, in a streamlined fashion, the formal sufficiency of the plaintiff's statement of a claim for relief without resolving a contest regarding its substantive merits, '” and without regard for the weight of the evidence that might be offered ...

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