United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Richmond Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION (GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION
E. Hudson United States District Judge
Gregory Hughes ("Plaintiff) brings suit against his
former employers, Defendants Musselman Hotels Management, LLC
("Musselman") and Forest Avenue Associates, LLC
("Forest Avenue") (collectively "Westin")
for violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act
("ADA") and the Family and Medical Leave Act
("FMLA"). Plaintiff also alleges claims against
Mountjoy Chilton Medley LLP ("MCM"), a limited
liability partnership of Certified Public Accountants, for
interference and retaliation under the FMLA.
matter comes before the Court on MCM's Motion to Dismiss.
(ECF No. 9.) MCM seeks dismissal of Plaintiffs FMLA claims,
arguing that Plaintiff has failed to plead a plausible claim
that MCM is Plaintiffs employer within the meaning of the
statute. MCM also asserts that Plaintiff has failed to plead
an actionable claim of interference or retaliation as
contemplated by the FMLA. Each side has filed memoranda
supporting their respective positions. For the reasons set
forth below, the Court will grant Defendants' Motion.
required by Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure, the Court assumes Plaintiffs well-pleaded
allegations to be true, and views all facts in the light most
favorable to him. T.G. Slater & Son v. Donald P.
& Patricia A. Brennan, LLC, 385 F.3d 836, 841 (4th
Cir. 2004) (citing MylanLabs, Inc. v. Matkari, 7
F.3d 1130, 1134 (4th Cir. 1993)). At this stage, the
Court's analysis is both informed and constrained by the
four corners of Plaintiff s Complaint. Viewed through this
lens, the facts are as follows.
March 2010, Westin hired Plaintiff as a Front Desk Associate.
(Compl. ¶11, ECF No. 1.) Westin promoted Plaintiff to
Front Desk Supervisor in June 2010. (Id.) In October
2011, Westin again promoted Plaintiff, this time to the
position of Guest Services Manager. (Id.) During
this period, Plaintiff received generally positive
performance evaluations. (Id.)
many years, Plaintiff has suffered from an anxiety disorder
that requires continuing medical treatment. (Id.
¶ 7.) This disorder substantially affects Plaintiffs
cognitive function, thinking, and concentration, and can
significantly impair his ability to interact with others.
(Id.) On or about April 27, 2012, Plaintiff suffered
an anxiety attack while at work, an episode which required
medical attention and prescription medication. (Id.
¶ 12.) Thereafter, Plaintiff requested and received from
Westin one week of medical leave. (Id.) Thereafter,
Plaintiff controlled his anxiety using medication.
January 26, 2015, Plaintiff suffered another anxiety attack
at work. (Id. 115.) This time, Plaintiff went to the
front desk supervisor, Shonta Johnson ("Johnson"),
and reported that he was in terrible pain. (Id.)
Plaintiff requested that Johnson call an ambulance.
(Id.) As a result, emergency medical services,
accompanied by Henrico police responded to the hotel and
transported Plaintiff to the hospital. (Id.
¶15-16.) Plaintiff was treated and released that same
day, and the emergency room physician provided him with a
note stating that he could return to work without
restriction. (Id. ¶ 16.)
the hospital had released Plaintiff to return to work without
restriction, Plaintiffs supervisor Feliks Schwartz
("Schwartz") required Plaintiff to obtain a second
medical release from his primary care physician.
(Id. ¶ 18.) Schwartz also criticized Plaintiff
for requesting that Johnson call 911 and suggested that
Plaintiff had embarrassed the hotel. (Id. ¶
primary care physician released him to return to work on
January 30, 2015, but Schwartz refused to accept this
release. (Id. ¶ 18-19) Instead, Schwartz
directed Plaintiff to submit to psychological and personality
testing as a condition of returning to work. (Id.
¶ 20.) Following this testing, Plaintiff was again
released to work without restriction. (Id. ¶
February 11, 2015, Plaintiff alleges that Schwartz contacted
Tom Hillman ("Hillman"), Westin's Chief
Operating Officer, and formulated a plan to fire Plaintiff
because of his disability and because he took medical leave.
(Id. ¶ 24.) Schwartz and Hillman allegedly
conspired to create a pretext for Plaintiffs firing to avoid
liability under the ADA and FMLA. (Id.)
February 13, 2015, Plaintiff was demoted from Guest Services
Manager to Front Desk Associate. (Id. ¶ 25.) As
a result of this demotion, Plaintiffs compensation was
reduced from approximately $15.45 per hour to $11.00 per
hour. (Id.) In addition, Plaintiffs work hours were
reduced from forty hours per week to thirty hours per week.
(Id.) Collectively, these reductions decreased
Plaintiffs total compensation by approximately fifty percent.
(Id.) Furthermore, Schwartz informed Plaintiff that
as a condition of his continued employment, Plaintiff would
have to submit to regular psychotherapy sessions at his own
expense, as well as weekly progress meetings with Schwartz.
(Id. ¶ 27.) Schwartz presented Plaintiff with a
document, allegedly drafted by MCM, containing the above
terms and conditions. (Id. ¶ 29.) Plaintiff
contends that these conditions were intended to impose an
undue burden and thereby compel Plaintiff to quit. (Id.
addition, Schwartz instructed Plaintiff that he was forbidden
from discussing his medical condition with other employees
and was not permitted to inform his coworkers about the
mandatory psychotherapy sessions. (Id. ¶
32-33.) Schwartz also began subjecting Plaintiff to close and
harassing scrutiny in the workplace. (Id. ¶
about March 5, 2015, Schwartz sent emails to his superiors at
Westin and to MCM reporting a complaint made by one of
Plaintiff s coworkers that Plaintiff had made a racially
insensitive comment. (Id. ¶ 36.) Specifically,
Schwartz inquired of MCM whether or not this statement was
grounds for termination. (Id.) MCM responded by
directing Schwartz to solicit statements from other employees
who witnessed similar conduct. (Id. ¶ 37.)
Schwartz followed this advice and subsequently obtained a
statement from the hotel bookkeeper that Plaintiff had made
joking statements about a ...