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Myles v. The University of Texas Health Center At San Antonio

United States District Court, W.D. Texas, San Antonio Division

January 11, 2018

LORETTA MARIE MYLES, Plaintiff,
v.
THE UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS HEALTH CENTER AT SAN ANTONIO; MISTY ANN GAEKE, INDIVIDUALLY; and HEATHER AMY KOBBE, INDIVIDUALLY, Defendants.

          ORDER

          XAVIER RODRIGUEZ UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         On this date, the Court considered the status of the above-captioned case. After careful consideration, the Court GRANTS IN PART AND DENIES IN PART Defendants Misty Ann Gaeke and Heather Amy Kobbe's Motion to Dismiss. Docket no. 7.

         BACKGROUND

         On July 31, 2017, Plaintiff Loretta Marie Myles brought this action in the County Court at Law Number Three, Bexar County, Texas, bringing claims for wrongful termination under the Family Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”) and age discrimination under the Texas Labor Code. Docket no. 1-5. On September 8, 2017, Defendants removed this action to this Court. Docket no. 1.

         On January 14, 1998, Defendant The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio (“UTHSCSA”) hired Plaintiff as a Human Resource Administrative Clerk. Docket no. 1-5 at 4. Plaintiff states she resigned on May 14, 2003, “under good terms and was eligible for rehire, ” and on September 8, 2005, Plaintiff was rehired as a Human Resource Technical Support Specialist. Id. Plaintiff was promoted over the next several years, including to Human Resource Advisor on March 1, 2006, Human Resource Supervisor on May 1, 2007, and Manger of Benefits and Records on September 1, 2009, all of which came with a pay increase. Id. Plaintiff alleges she was “reclassified” to Benefit Program Administrative-Lead on November 1, 2010, with a pay decrease. Id.

         Plaintiff alleges that on February 1, 2011, she requested a constructive demotion “because then Director of Human Resources Mary Mahar had created an objectively hostile and retaliatory environment that [Plaintiff] could not endure.” Id. Plaintiff alleges she lost $13, 000.00 in annual compensation. Id. Plaintiff alleges that she possessed “the requisite skill, experience, education and other job-related requirements for the positions she held.” Id.

         Plaintiff states that Defendant Gaeke was the Senior Director, Total Rewards, and HRIS of the Human Resources Department for UTHSCSA and exercised supervisory authority over Plaintiff. Id. Plaintiff states that Defendant Kobbe was the Senior Director, Talent Management, of the Human Resources Department for UTHSCSA and exercised supervisory authority over Plaintiff. Id. at 5.

         On December 21, 2015, Plaintiff alleges that she requested and received an FMLA benefits packet to nurse and care for her husband, who suffered from prostate cancer. Id. Plaintiff alleges that she called Gaeke on December 23, 2015, and told Gaeke she received the packet and wanted to apply for FMLA benefits to care for her husband. Id. Plaintiff alleges that Gaeke instructed Plaintiff “not to complete the FMLA packet and not to pursue any FMLA benefits.” Id. Plaintiff alleges she was entitled to up to twelve weeks of leave, but that Gaeke “restrained, interfered with, and otherwise denied [Plaintiff] the right to her full FMLA benefits.” Id.

         Plaintiff alleges her husband was released from the hospital on January 6, 2016, but he was physically unable to care for himself. Id. Plaintiff states she was overwhelmed with the responsibility of caring for her husband and attending to her work responsibilities. Id. Plaintiff alleges that on January 27, 2016, Gaeke walked into Plaintiff's office and “told her point-blank that she needed to update her résumé and start looking for another job.” Id. Plaintiff alleges she felt threatened and the target of retaliation “because she sought benefits under the FMLA.” Id. Plaintiff alleges that, feeling that Gaeke would again interfere with and otherwise restrain her from accessing FMLA leave, she initiated “FMLA leave under the guise of taking time off for the stress and anxiety she suffered as a result of the hostile work environment and to take a break from Gaeke's harassment.” Id. at 6. Plaintiff alleges this leave period went from January 28, 2015, to April 1, 2016. Id.

         Plaintiff alleges that on April 4, 2016, her first day back from leave, Gaeke “ambushed [Plaintiff] with a document entitled ‘Notification of Intent to Terminate Employment.'” Id. Plaintiff alleges that, in this document, Gaeke falsely accused Plaintiff of entering an incorrect date of birth on May 13, 2015, and failing to process a life insurance claim properly on January 12, 2016. Id. Gaeke allegedly gave Plaintiff twenty-four hours to respond. Id. Plaintiff states that on April 7, 2016, Gaeke formally discharged Plaintiff “for pretextual reasons and in retaliation for [Plaintiff's] request for FMLA leave to care for her critically ill husband.” Id. Plaintiff alleges that Gaeke terminated Plaintiff “because she wished to hire a younger employee to replace her, or otherwise treat her less favorably than younger employees, and because of age.” Id.

         Plaintiff brings a claim for violation of the Texas Labor Code against UTHSCSA. Id. Plaintiff also brings claims for violations of the FMLA against UTHSCA and Gaeke. Id. at 7. Plaintiff alleges that Gaeke interfered with, restrained, and denied Plaintiff's exercise of or the attempt to exercise her rights under the FMLA and discouraged her from seeking benefits with respect to the FMLA's family-care provision. Id. at 7-8. Plaintiff also alleges that Gaeke retaliated against Plaintiff because she exercised her rights with respect to the FMLA's self-care provision. Id. at 7. On November 17, 2017, individual Defendants Gaeke and Kobbe filed a Motion to Dismiss under Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6), now pending before the Court. Docket no. 7.

         DISCUSSION

         I. Legal Standard

         The Court must dismiss a cause for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction “when the court lacks the statutory or constitutional power to adjudicate the case.” See Home Builders Assn. of Mississippi, Inc. v. City of Madison, 143 F.3d 1006, 1010 (5th Cir. 1998). A motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction under 12(b)(1) may be decided on: (1) the complaint alone; (2) the complaint supplemented by undisputed facts evidenced in the record; or (3) the complaint supplemented by undisputed facts, plus the Court's resolution of disputed facts. Freeman v. United States, 556 F.3d 326, 334 (5th Cir. 2009). Unlike a 12(b)(6) motion, the district court is ...


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