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Flynn v. Fidelity National Management Services, LLC

United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Orlando Division

March 28, 2017

HEATHER FLYNN, Plaintiff,
v.
FIDELITY NATIONAL MANAGEMENT SERVICES, LLC, Defendant.

          ORDER

          PAUL G. BYRON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This cause comes before the Court on Defendant Fidelity National Management Services, LLC's Motion for Summary Judgment and Memorandum of Law in Support Thereof (Doc. 23), filed February 1, 2017. The parties have completed their briefing and the Court is otherwise fully advised on the premises. Upon consideration and review of the record, including all pleadings, deposition transcripts, affidavits, exhibits, and the parties' respective legal memoranda, the Court will deny Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff, Heather Flynn (“Flynn”), began working for Defendant, Fidelity National Management Services, LLC (“Fidelity”), in November 1998. During the time period at issue in this case, Flynn held a position in Agency Client Services. (Flynn Aff. ¶ 10). On August 28, 2013, Flynn filed a request with Fidelity for intermittent leave pursuant to the Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”), 29 U.S.C. §§ 2601-2654, due to her own serious health condition. (Flynn Dep. Ex. 37). Although there were initial issues with Flynn's supporting paperwork, Fidelity ultimately granted Flynn's request on October 28, 2013, and retroactively approved Flynn to take intermittent FMLA leave between August 26, 2013 and February 24, 2014. (Flynn Dep. 131:10-25, 133:13-136:5; Sealed Doc. 34-3).

         Beginning near Flynn's period of intermittent FMLA leave, Fidelity asserts that Flynn's performance at work began to suffer. (Dunleavy Aff. ¶ 20). Consequently, Fidelity moved Flynn from her position in Agency Client Services to a position as an Agency Sales Assistant.[1] Despite her transition to Agency Sales Assistant, however, Fidelity says that Flynn's work performance continued to deteriorate. Fidelity states that Flynn violated a number of company policies, including wearing unprofessional attire at work, using her company email for personal business, allowing her daughter to use her company-issued laptop, failing to communicate and adhere to an appropriate work schedule, and failing to complete tasks in a satisfactory and timely manner. (Id. ¶¶ 21-26). According to Fidelity, Flynn was also the subject of numerous complaints. (Id. ¶ 22).

         As a result, on November 21, 2013, one of Flynn's supervisors, Jason Somers, and Fidelity's human resources representative, Becky Adair, met with Flynn to discuss her shortcomings and to express Fidelity's expectations of Flynn moving forward. (Flynn Dep. 112:3-113:25, 115:4-9). Notwithstanding, Fidelity issued a Notice of Performance Counseling to Flynn on December 13, 2013, citing that Flynn had again violated certain company policies. (Doc. 31-5). In the Notice of Performance Counseling, Fidelity informed Flynn that a follow-up review would be conducted on January 3, 2014, and warned that “failure to improve by this date may result in further disciplinary action up to and including demotion, and/or termination.” (Id.).

         Around the same time, in late November and early December 2013, Flynn began emailing Ms. Adair and another of her supervisors at Fidelity, Mary Pat Dunleavy, to request that she be allowed to switch from intermittent to continuous FMLA leave in order to address her worsening health condition. (Flynn Aff. ¶ 15). However, Flynn states that Ms. Adair and Ms. Dunleavy ignored her requests. (Flynn Aff. ¶¶ 15, 17). Flynn asked Ms. Adair about switching to continuous FMLA leave again on January 21 and 22, 2014. (Dunleavy Aff. Ex. 3). Ms. Adair responded that she would look into what options were available and would set up a time for Flynn to meet with her and Mr. Somers to discuss the situation. (Id.). Fidelity terminated Flynn five days later. (Doc. 31-6).

         On January 20, 2016, Flynn initiated this lawsuit against Fidelity to vindicate her rights under the FMLA. Flynn accuses Fidelity of interfering with and retaliating against her exercise of FMLA leave. Fidelity now moves for summary judgment

         II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         “The court shall grant summary judgment if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). The party moving for summary judgment must “cit[e] to particular parts of materials in the record, including depositions, documents, electronically stored information, affidavits or declarations, stipulations . . ., admissions, interrogatory answers, or other materials” to support its position that it is entitled to summary judgment. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1)(A). “The court need consider only the cited materials, ” but may also consider any other material in the record. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(3).

         A factual dispute is “genuine” only if “a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). A fact is “material” if the fact could affect the outcome of the lawsuit under the governing law. Id. The moving party bears the initial burden of identifying those portions of the record demonstrating a lack of a genuine factual dispute. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986); Hickson Corp. v. N. Crossarm Co., 357 F.3d 1256, 1260 (11th Cir. 2004). If the movant shows that there is no evidence to support the non-moving party's case, the burden then shifts to the non-moving party to demonstrate that there are, in fact, genuine factual disputes which preclude judgment as a matter of law. Porter v. Ray, 461 F.3d 1315, 1320 (11th Cir. 2006).

         To satisfy its burden, the non-moving party “must do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts.” Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986). Rather, the non-movant must go beyond the pleadings and “identify affirmative evidence” which creates a genuine dispute of material fact. Crawford-El v. Britton, 523 U.S. 574, 600 (1998). In determining whether a genuine dispute of material fact exists, the court must read the evidence and draw all factual inferences therefrom in the light most favorable to the non-moving party and must resolve any reasonable doubts in the non-movant's favor. Skop v. City of Atlanta, 485 F.3d 1130, 1136 (11th Cir. 2007). Summary judgment should only be granted “[w]here the record taken as a whole could not lead a rational trier of fact to find for the non-moving party.” Matsushita, 475 U.S. at 587.

         III. DISCUSSION

         Under the FMLA, eligible employees are entitled to twelve workweeks of leave during any twelve-month period to address or care for certain enumerated family- and healthcare-related needs. See 29 U.S.C. § 2612(a)(1). Relevant to the parties' dispute here, an eligible employee is entitled to such leave in order to care for “a serious health condition that makes the employee unable to perform [her job-related functions].” Id. § 2612(a)(1)(D). Subject to certain limitations not applicable to this case, the employee may take her leave continuously or may take intermittent leave as her serious health condition permits. See Id. § 2612(b)(1). It is illegal for an employer to interfere with or retaliate against an employee who exercises or attempts to exercise her rights under the FMLA. Id. § 2615(a)(1). An employer who violates an employee's FMLA rights is liable to the employee for damages, including a potential award of liquidated damages, and equitable relief. See Id. § 2617(a)(1).

         Fidelity moves for summary judgment on the ground that Flynn cannot prove her FMLA interference and retaliation claims as a matter of ...


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