United States District Court, D. New Hampshire
Rachael K. Brown
HCA Health Services of New Hampshire, Inc. Opinion No. 2016 DNH 010
ANDREA K. JOHNSTONE UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Rachael K. Brown (“plaintiff”) filed this action against her former employer, HCA Health Services of New Hampshire, Inc. (“HCA” or “defendant”), asserting various claims arising out of her termination by the defendant in July 2015. Before the court is the defendant’s partial motion to dismiss. Doc. no 4. For the reasons that follow, the defendant’s motion is granted in part and denied in part.
Accepting the factual allegations set forth in the plaintiff’s complaint as true, doc. no. 1, the relevant facts are as follows:
The defendant owns and operates the Portsmouth Regional Hospital (“Hospital”), located in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Compl. ¶ 2, Doc. No. 1. In 2005, the plaintiff was hired by the defendant. Id. ¶ 5. Throughout her employment, the plaintiff served as Executive Assistant to the Chief Executive Officer of the Hospital. Id.
The plaintiff suffers from various health conditions, including Graves’ disease, carpal tunnel syndrome, and degenerative rheumatoid arthritis. Id. ¶ 13. Despite these impairments, the plaintiff continued to perform the essential functions of her work. Id.
In the spring of 2015, the plaintiff was told that she would have to undergo surgery to treat the medical conditions affecting her right hand. Id. ¶ 14. After surgery, the plaintiff would need twelve weeks to recover. Id. In April 2015, the plaintiff informed the defendant she needed to take a leave of absence in the summer of 2015. Id.
In June 2015, just prior to the plaintiff applying for twelve weeks of leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”), the defendant notified her that it was terminating her employment effective July 2, 2015. Id. ¶ 15. Prior to the defendant’s notice, the plaintiff was not aware that her employment was in jeopardy. Id. ¶ 17. The plaintiff had never been previously disciplined, and, in fact, had received multiple positive performance reviews. Id.
Yet, relying on the advice of the Hospital’s CEO and Vice President of Human Resources, the plaintiff proceeded with her application for FMLA leave. Id. ¶ 18. The defendant’s short- term disability and leave administrator advised the plaintiff that if she qualified for FMLA leave, the defendant had to reinstate her “to the same or an equivalent job with the same pay, benefits and terms and condition of employment on [her] return from FMLA-protected leave.” Id. ¶ 19. Soon after, the plaintiff was informed that the defendant had “approved [her] leave under the [FMLA] from June 17, 2015, through September 8, 2015.” Id. ¶ 20.
However, contrary to the representations made by the defendant’s short-term disability and leave administrator, the plaintiff was still terminated on July 2, 2015. Id. ¶ 21.
On August 18, 2015, the plaintiff filed this action. Doc. no. 1. The complaint contains four counts against the defendant: (I) violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act; (II) interference of the plaintiff’s rights under the FMLA; (III) interference of the plaintiff’s rights under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (“ERISA”); and (IV) wrongful discharge. Id.
Standard of Review
Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), the court must accept the factual allegations in the complaint as true, construe reasonable inferences in the plaintiff’s favor, and “determine whether the factual allegations in the plaintiff’s complaint set forth a plausible claim upon which relief may be granted.” Foley v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., 772 F.3d 63, 71 (1st Cir. 2014) (citation and quotation marks omitted). A claim is facially plausible “when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, ...