United States District Court, W.D. Virginia, Abingdon Division
E. Strelka, L. Leigh R. Strelka, and N. Winston West, IV,
Strelka Law Office, PC, Roanoke, Virginia, for Plaintiff;
M. Lawson, Elliott Lawson & Minor, P.C., Bristol,
Virginia, for Defendant.
OPINION AND ORDER
P. Jones United States District Judge
Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) case, the defendant
employer has moved to dismiss the First Amended Complaint for
failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.
For the reasons that follow, I will deny the Motion to
First Amended Complaint alleges the following facts, which I
must accept as true for the purpose of deciding the Motion to
plaintiff, Mr. Trail, worked for the defendant, Utility
Trailer Manufacturing Company (UTMC), as a welder at its
Smyth County, Virginia, plant. UTMC manufactures vehicles and
parts in the automotive trucking industry.
March 8, 2018, Trail's wife called UTMC and spoke with a
human resources representative. She stated that both of
Trail's sons were very ill and would be transported to
the emergency room for medical care. When Trail learned of
this news, he discussed it with a human resources
representative and his supervisor. He asked to be allowed to
leave work pursuant to the FMLA. UTMC approved his leave
request and he left work.
has an attendance policy in which employees are assigned
points when they are absent. The policy requires termination
upon the accrual of 15 points within a year. Prior to leaving
work on March 8, 2018, Trail had fewer than 15 points.
March 12, 2018, Bill Weaver of UTMC Human Resources met with
Trail and foreman Jake Dickinson. Weaver informed Trail that
UTMC would assign points for his March 8 absence and that due
to excessive points, Trail was immediately terminated. Weaver
stated that FMLA would not apply to the March 8 absence. A
note written by Weaver memorializing the meeting states that
Trail “hoped FML would cover absence & it would
not, so Bill Weaver told Taylor Trail that he was being let
go for excessive absenteeism.” First Am.
Compl. Ex. A. The note does not explain why Weaver concluded
that the absence was not protected under the FMLA, nor does
it indicate that UTMC asked Trail to provide documentation
related to the absence or gave him an opportunity to cure any
perceived deficiency in his request for FMLA leave.
earlier, on March 1, 2018, Trail had applied for intermittent
FMLA leave due to his son's cerebral palsy. A human
resources representative gave Trail forms to have his
son's physician complete. UTMC has stated that Trail did
not complete the paperwork necessary for approval of
intermittent leave. However, according to Trail, the leave
requested on March 8 was unrelated to his son's cerebral
palsy and the intermittent leave he had previously requested.
Trail alleges that he provided sufficient information to
human resources on March 8 to inform UTMC that his sons'
trip to the emergency room would qualify for FMLA
on these facts, Trail asserts two claims. Count I alleges
discrimination and retaliation in violation of the FMLA.
Count II alleges interference with FMLA rights. UTMC has
moved to dismiss both counts pursuant to Federal Rule of
Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). The Motion to Dismiss has been
fully briefed and is now ripe for decision.
pleading standards require that a complaint contain a
“short and plain statement of the claim showing that
the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P.
8(a)(2). A Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss tests the legal
sufficiency of a complaint to determine whether the plaintiff
has properly stated a claim. See Edwards v. City of
Goldsboro, 178 F.3d 231, 243 (4th Cir. 1999). In order
to survive a motion to dismiss, the plaintiff must
“state a plausible claim for relief” that
“permit[s] the court to infer more than the mere
possibility of misconduct” based upon its
“judicial experience and common sense.”
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 679 (2009). In
evaluating a pleading, the court accepts as true all
well-pled facts. Id. A complaint does not need