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Garcia v. Randolph-Brooks Federal Credit Union

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

April 16, 2019

JENNIFER GARCIA, Plaintiff,
v.
RANDOLPH-BROOKS FEDERAL CREDIT UNION, Defendant.

          Honorable Orlando L. Garcia Chief United States District Judge.

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION OF UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

          ELIZABETH S. ("BETSY") CHESTNEY, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         This Report and Recommendation concerns Defendant Randolph-Brooks Federal Credit Union's Rule 12(b)(6) Partial Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's First Amended Complaint [#14]. All pretrial matters in this case have been referred to the undersigned for disposition pursuant to Rules CV-72 and 1(c) of Appendix C of the Local Rules of the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas [#18]. The undersigned has authority to enter this recommendation pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B). In reviewing the motion, the undersigned has also considered Plaintiff's Response [#16] and Defendant's Reply [#17]. For the reasons set forth below, it is recommended that Defendant's Motion [#14] be GRANTED IN PART AND DENIED IN PART.

         I. Procedural and Factual Background

         Plaintiff Jennifer Garcia originally filed this case in the 408th Judicial District Court for Bexar County, Texas, on August 13, 2018, against her former employer Defendant Randolph Brooks Federal Credit Union (hereinafter “RBFCU”), alleging (1) interference and retaliation claims under the Family and Medical Leave Act, 29 U.S.C. § 2615 (“FMLA”), (2) employment discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e, et seq. (“Title VII”), and (3) intentional infliction of emotional distress under Texas law. RBFCU removed Garcia's Petition to federal court on September 19, 2018 on the basis of federal-question and supplemental jurisdiction. (Notice of Removal [#1].)

         Following removal, RBFCU promptly moved to dismiss Garcia's claims of FMLA interference and intentional infliction of emotional distress. (Def.'s Mot. to Dismiss [#2].) In response, Garcia moved to amend her Petition, and the Court granted the motion. (Order Granting Leave [#12].) Garcia's First Amended Complaint is the live pleading in this case and reasserts her claims of FMLA interference and retaliation, Title VII sex discrimination, and intentional infliction of emotional distress but also adds a claim of false imprisonment. (First Am. Compl. [#13] at ¶¶ 22-29.)

         According to Garcia's First Amended Complaint, she is a homosexual female, who suffered sex discrimination in the workplace due to her romantic relationship with a coworker. (First Am. Compl. [#13] at ¶ 11.) During her full-time employment with RBFCU, Garcia alleges she received verbal and written notice of RBFCU's policy of permitting romantic relationships among its employees, so long as the employees did not report to the same supervisor. (Id. at ¶ 11.) Garcia developed a friendship with another female employee, who ultimately requested a change in departments with a different supervisor than Garcia. (Id.) After the transfer, Garcia's relationship with the other employee became romantic. (Id.) Garcia alleges that as a result of this relationship, she was repeatedly harassed by upper management, specifically her supervisors Michael Guerra and Hector Hurtado, so much so that the harassment exacerbated her anxiety and depression. (Id. at ¶ 12.)

         Garcia applied for FMLA leave on August 16, 2017 through her primary care physician due to her emotional distress and mental symptoms. (Id. at ¶ 13.) Garcia claims that RBFCU made it difficult for her to apply for FMLA leave by twice asking her to “recertify” her request for leave through a third-party claims administrator, “Matrix Absence Management.” (Id.) During this time period, Garcia alleges she became the subject of “a multitude of trivial complaints” regarding her performance, resulting in a number of written disciplinary reports, which she maintains were groundless. (Id. at ¶ 14.) Garcia was ultimately told she was “unreliable” because she was on FMLA leave and was terminated on February 16, 2018. (Id. at ¶¶ 15-16.)

         On the date of her termination, Garcia claims her two managers (Guerra and Hurtado) had her meet them in a coaching room, where they asked for her badge and terminated her employment in front of three departments and at least 60 employees. (Id. at ¶ 16.) According to Garcia, Guerra and Hurtado then had an unarmed head of security and two armed and uniformed security guards escort her to the parking garage. (Id.) When Garcia attempted to get into her vehicle, she was blocked from doing so at the direction of the head of security, cornered in the garage, and told to “shut the fuck up.” (Id.) Garcia ultimately was able to escape and walk home on foot. (Id.) After her termination, Garcia claims she discovered that her primary care physician and his staff were interviewed by an employee of Matrix Absence Management and accused of fraud in Garcia's FMLA certification. (Id. at ¶ 18.)

         Prior to filing this lawsuit, Garcia timely exhausted her administrative remedies. (Id. at 21.) RBFCU now moves to dismiss Garcia's claims of FMLA interference, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and false imprisonment. The motion is ripe for this Court's review.

         II. Legal Standard

         “To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). “A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Id. “Although a complaint “does not need detailed factual allegations, ” the “allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. The allegations pleaded must show “more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678.

         In reviewing a motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), a court “accepts all well-pleaded facts as true, viewing them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff.” Martin K. Eby Const. Co. v. Dallas Area Rapid Transit, 369 F.3d 464, 467 (5th Cir. 2004) (internal quotation omitted). However, a Court need not credit conclusory allegations or allegations that merely restate the legal elements of a claim. Chhim v. Univ. of Tex. at Austin, 836 F.3d 467, 469 (5th Cir. 2016) (citing Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678). In short, a claim should not be dismissed unless the court determines that it is beyond doubt that the plaintiff cannot prove a plausible set of facts that support the claim and would justify relief. See Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570.

         III. ...


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