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Anusie-Howard v. Todd

United States District Court, D. Maryland, Northern Division

February 26, 2015

TANYA ANUSIE-HOWARD, Plaintiff,
v.
WILLIAM TODD, et al., Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

WILLIAM D. QUARLES, Jr., District Judge.

Tanya Anusie-Howard sued William Todd, Michael Baker, Mike Eppig, Anthony Lee, and the Baltimore County Board of Education (collectively the "Defendants") for violating the Family Medical Leave Act ("FMLA").[1] Pending is the Defendants' motion for summary judgment. ECF No. 38. No hearing is necessary. Local Rule 105.6 (D. Md. 2014). For the following reasons, the Defendants' motion will be granted.

I. Background[2]

Anusie-Howard is a building service worker at Millbrook Elementary School ("Millbrook"). ECF Nos. 38-3 at 2; 38-4 at 2-3.[3] Todd is a Buildings Operations Supervisor, Baker a Field Representative, Eppig a Senior Operations Supervisor, and Lee an employee[4] of Baltimore County Public Schools (BCPS). ECF No. 24 ¶¶ 3-5. Todd, Baker, and Eppig supervise Anusie-Howard. Id. ¶ 6; ECF Nos. 38-1 at 1-2, 7; 38-2 at 2. In 2007, Anusie-Howard's Husband became disabled, and Anusie-Howard had to take time off from work to care for him. ECF No. 43-1 at 1.

On August 13, 2009, Anusie-Howard requested FMLA leave to care for her husband, who had a hernia. ECF No. 43-2 at 1 at 2. Anusie-Howard requested two weeks leave from August 29, 2009 to September 14, 2009, and intermittent leave (three days off per week), thereafter, until November 30, 2009. Id. at 1, 4. On August 24, 2009, Anusie-Howard's leave request - construed as a request to convert personal illness leave to family illness leave - was approved. ECF No. 38-5 at 2.[5] The conversion allowed Anusie-Howard "to be absent from work, with pay, for up to [eight] weeks"; if necessary, Anusie-Howard could take "[a]n additional four (4) weeks [leave]... without pay, " under the FMLA. Id. [6]

Because of "the denial of FMLA benefits, " on October 19, 2009, Anusie-Howard switched to a part-time position at Millbrook Elementary school. ECF No. 43-1 at 1; see also ECF No. 38-4.[7] Despite being a part-time employee, Anusie-Howard swore that the Defendants assigned her eight hours of work each day, "comparable to that of full-time employees." ECF No. 43-1 at 1.[8]

On March 18, 2010, Anusie-Howard called in sick with a viral infection. ECF No. 43-1 at 1. Baker told her: "You need to bring your tail to work because you're being vindictive towards Pat."[9] Id. He then "threaten[ed]" Anusie-Howard "by indicating that he was aware of unidentified items in her personnel file that reflected negatively upon her" including "[her] use of FMLA benefits." Id. [10]

On April 14, 2010, Anusie-Howard filed a grievance report complaining that, on April 8, 2010, she had met with Kevin Roberts, another supervisor, when "she was out due to illness." ECF No. 43-5 at 1. Although Anusie-Howard had followed "proper call-in procedures, " she was told to return to work. Id. Anusie-Howard further complained that an evaluation covering October 19, 2009 to March 5, 2010 had been changed. Id. [11]

On April 19, 2010, Anusie-Howard met with Roberts, Todd, and Lora Williams, a union representative to discuss her cleaning schedule. ECF No. 38-10 at 2. An April 28, 2010 letter summarizing the meeting stated that Anusie-Howard had expressed concern about Baker's March 18, 2010 call; however, Roberts had asked Baker to call Anusie-Howard to see if she was returning to work. Id. The letter further stated that Anusie-Howard's cleaning schedule required her to clean eight classrooms, at 20 minutes per classroom. Id. When other workers were off, Anusie-Howard had to "prioritize [her] workload: dumping the trash in each room, sweeping the big pieces of paper up off the floors, cleaning all bathrooms assigned, and sweeping the halls." Id.

On August 11, 2011, Anusie-Howard filed another grievance report complaining that her supervisors continued to assign her a full-time work schedule. ECF Nos. 24 at 7; 38-13 at 2.[12] Anusie-Howard requested a schedule adjustment whereby she would be assigned to eight classrooms in each four-hour shift. ECF No. 38-13 at 2.

In a January 6, 2012 letter addressing Anusie-Howard's grievance reports, Wingerd told Anusie-Howard that he believed that Roberts had adequately "identified the issues and taken steps to resolve the issues" noted in the April 14, 2010 report. ECF No. 38-13 at 3. Wingerd also stated that he had conferred with Eppig in connection with her August 11, 2011 report, and determined that her work-load was appropriate for a part-time employee. Id. Wingerd "disagree[d] with [Anusie-Howard's] assessment that [she had] been given a full time schedule." Id. at 3.

On September 1, 2011, Anusie-Howard filed a charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") stating that the Defendants and others had retaliated against her by giving her an excessive workload and falsifying her attendance records in retaliation for her use of her sick time. See ECF No. 15-1 (charge). On September 13, 2011, the EEOC sent Anusie-Howard a right to sue letter. ECF Nos. 24 at 8, 15-2.

On December 13, 2011, Anusie-Howard sued the Defendants in the Circuit Court for Baltimore County, Maryland for punitive and compensatory damages for (1) retaliation for filing for FMLA benefits (the "retaliation claim"), and (2) violation of the FMLA (the "interference claim").[13] ECF No. 2. On January 20, 2012, the Defendants removed to this Court. ECF No. 1.

On May 30, 2012, the Court granted the Defendants' motion to dismiss, but granted Anusie-Howard leave to amend her complaint. ECF Nos. 13, 14. On June 8, 2012, Anusie-Howard filed an amended complaint, alleging more information about her eligibility for benefits under the FMLA. ECF No. 15. On January 29, 2013, the Court granted in part and denied in part the Defendants' motion to dismiss the amended complaint, [14] and granted Anusie-Howard leave to amend her complaint to plead a prima facie case of retaliation. ECF Nos. 22, 23. On February 20, 2013, Anusie-Howard filed a second amended complaint. ECF No. 24. On November ...


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