United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Fort Myers Division
OPINION AND ORDER 
POLSTER CHAPPELL UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
the Court is Defendant Naples Community Hospital,
Inc.’s (“NCH”) Dispositive Motion for
Summary Judgment (Doc. 42) and Plaintiff Wilner
Jean-Pierre’s response in opposition (Doc. 52). For the
reasons below, the Court grants the motion.
a religious discrimination suit. NCH hired Jean-Pierre to be
a clinician technician (“CT”) in its 4-South
Oncology Department and then in its Outpatient Infusion
Services Department (“OPIS”). As a CT,
Jean-Pierre provided direct patient care under a nurse. His
job duties included taking vital signs, administering EKGs,
and running samples to laboratories. Both jobs required
weekend shifts, and Jean-Pierre acknowledged so. (Doc. 48-4
at 3; Doc. 48-5; Doc. 48-8). Jean-Pierre worked at NCH for
about five years until he was fired on November 7,
2012. (Doc. 48-15).
the start of his employment, Jean-Pierre told NCH he was a
Seven-Day Adventist who could not work sundown Friday to
sundown Saturday-his Sabbath. And NCH accommodated his
religious beliefs for almost all his tenure with creative
scheduling and allowing him to work only Sundays. (Doc. 42
¶¶ 2, 4, 7; Doc. 52 ¶¶ 2, 4, 7; Pl. Dep.
118:13-15). That scheduling accommodation changed in October
time, Jean-Pierre had been working in the OPIS unit for about
two years. OPIS provides antibiotic and chemotherapy
infusions to patients. Because OPIS treats outpatients only,
it sees about seventy-five patients per day. This patient
flow is higher than other NCH departments. (Doc. 42 ¶ 5;
Doc. 52 ¶ 5). OPIS is open seven days per week. The CTs
typically work eight-hour shifts, Monday through Friday and
every other weekend. For Saturday shifts, OPIS preferred to
schedule two CTs because it was the busiest day. But, based
on anticipated patient needs and to accommodate Jean-Pierre,
it sometimes scheduled only one CT.
started 2012 with four CTs. It lost one in April and another
in October. The latter resignation, given on October 5 and
effective one week later, left OPIS with only two CTs to
cover the weekend shifts: Jean-Pierre and Vanie Cineus. NCH
advertised for the open CT position within a few weeks and
filled it in early November. (Doc. 43-20).
October 8, supervisors met with Jean-Pierre to discuss him
having to work Saturdays because of the staffing shortage.
The supervisors were Dora Krauss, Director of Education and
then-Interim Director of OPIS, and Sheryl Voivedich, Nurse
Manager for OPIS. (Doc. 48-29 at 1; Doc. 49-1 at 1). They
told Jean-Pierre he would be scheduled to work every other
Saturday beginning October 20 as a matter of patient safety.
(Pl. Dep. 106:25-107:7). Up to the recent resignation, Krauss
explained that OPIS could work around Jean-Pierre’s
request but could no longer do so with only one other CT and
the busy season approaching. (Doc. 42 ¶ 13; Doc. 52
¶ 13). This proposed schedule, however, was not set in
stone. Krauss told Jean-Pierre he could switch shifts with
another CT to avoid working on Saturdays and referred him to
NCH’s Staffing Office to see if they could assist in
any way. (Doc. 42 ¶ 14; Doc. 52 ¶ 14; Pl. Dep.
responded that he would not work Saturdays because of his
religion. (Pl. Dep. 107:5-7). He also reminded his
supervisors about his longstanding agreement with NCH never
to work on the Sabbath. Jean-Pierre was then warned that,
absent alternative arrangements, he would be disciplined if
he did not show up for his scheduled Saturday shift.
Jean-Pierre responded he would accept any reprimand as he was
not working. (Pl. Dep. at 107:16-19). The meeting ended with
the supervisors telling Jean-Pierre that he need not decide
at that moment if he would work the scheduled Saturday. They
suggested he talk to someone at home or church before making
a final decision. A few days later, Jean-Pierre gave Krauss a
letter from his pastor that outlined his religious
October 20 came and went. Jean-Pierre never reported to work.
Nor did he call NCH’s staffing center before his shift
to report his soon-to-be absence. Jean-Pierre’s no-show
left OPIS with no CT. But, according to Jean-Pierre,
“the RNs performed their own tech work, which did not
pose a problem.” (Doc. 52 ¶ 13). Jean-Pierre
received a three-point “reminder” under
NCH’s point-based progressive discipline policy for
skipping the scheduled shift. (Doc. 48-45 at 4-5).
point, background on NCH’s point-based progressive
discipline policy provides context. (Doc. 43-15). Violating
an NCH policy is a one-point reminder. A repeat infraction or
serious first-time infraction is three points, and a final
reminder for a repeat violation is five points. The policy
also gives examples of unsatisfactory behavior like
“[f]ailure to report to work as scheduled following
denial of request for time off” is a five-point
reminder. (Doc. 43-15 at 14). Twelve points in a rolling
twelve-month period makes an employee eligible for firing.
(Doc. 43-15 at 9). As of October 8, when his scheduled
changed, Jean-Pierre had four points. (Doc. 48-45 at 1-3).
October 22, Jean-Pierre received a memorandum outlining the
three-point reminder. It said
Wilner, while I understand that each absence may be
legitimate, a no call no show is a serious infraction. We
need to be able to count on you to come to work on a regular
basis. This 3-point corrective action prevents you from
applying for a transfer to six months. The next level of
corrective action for a second no-call no-show within the
next twelve month period is a 5-point reminder, which also
prevents you from eligibility for the next full pay increase
and/or bonus. Including this 3-point corrective action points
are 7. An accumulation of twelve or more points may result in
the termination of your employment.
(Doc. 48-45 at 4-5; Pl. Dep. 113:4-114:2). Jean-Pierre did
not sign the memorandum, and the employee comment section
said, “Employee stated he absolutely will not work on
Saturdays due to his religious beliefs. He will not change
that.” (Doc. 48-45 at 4-5). Jean-Pierre was also
reminded that, although NCH respected his religious beliefs,
OPIS counted on him to work his scheduled shifts. (Pl. Dep.
same day, Jean-Pierre learned he was scheduled to work
Saturday, November 3. He was reminded that not working the
shift would lead to a five-point reminder and make him
eligible for termination of employment. Jean-Pierre said he
understood the ramifications but still would not work the
weekend shift. (Pl. Dep. 13:21).
before Jean-Pierre’s November 3 shift, he met with
Michelle Zech, a manager in NCH’s Human Resources
Department. (Doc. 48-41). Knowing Jean-Pierre’s
religious observance, Zech discussed Jean-Pierre applying to
transfer to a per diem position or different
full-time position with hours that could better accommodate
him. (Doc. 48-41; Pl. Dep. 117:15-23, 120:15-19). Zech
suggested a per diem position because those employees set the
days they can work, meaning Jean-Pierre could control not
working on Saturdays. Zech also showed Jean-Pierre how to
find open positions on NCH’s intranet. Jean-Pierre,
however, was not interested in any available job. (Doc. 42
¶ 17; Doc. 52 ¶ 17).
November 3 came, and Jean-Pierre did not show for work. As
warned, his absence led to the following five-point reminder:
As of Saturday, November 3, 2012, your attendance record is
unacceptable. My previous meetings with you to resolve the
situation have not been successful. . . This 5-point reminder
prevents you from applying for a transfer outside of your
department for six months, and makes you ineligible for the
next full pay increase and/or bonus. Including this 5-point
reminder, your accumulated points are 12. An accumulation of
twelve or more points during the past twelve months may
result in termination of your employment.
(Doc. 48-45 at 6-7; Doc. 42 ¶ 20; Doc. 52 ¶ 20).
Having accumulated twelve points, NCH decided to fire