Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Epperson v. Evonik Corp.

United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Southern Division

July 10, 2019

RAY EPPERSON, Plaintiff,
v.
EVONIK CORPORATION, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          KARON OWEN BOWDRE, CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This Family and Medical Leave Act matter comes before the court on Defendant Evonik Corporation's “Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings as to the Amended Complaint and Incorporated Memorandum of Law.” (Doc. 26).

         Plaintiff Ray Epperson alleges that he requested medical leave under the FMLA from his employer, Evonik, and then took what he thought was his FMLA leave. But after Mr. Epperson took several days off, Evonik terminated his employment. Mr. Epperson contends that, by doing so, Evonik interfered with his FMLA rights and retaliated against him for engaging in activity protected by the FMLA.

         Evonik moves the court to enter judgment in its favor on Mr. Epperson's claims under Rule 12(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure because, according to Evonik, the pleadings show that Mr. Epperson did not provide medical certification from his doctor to support his application for FMLA leave. So Evonik asserts that Mr. Epperson was not entitled to FMLA protections and thus cannot state any claim for relief under the FMLA.

         As further explained below, Mr. Epperson was not entitled to FMLA leave so the court will dismiss his interference claim. But the court will not dismiss his retaliation claim because he has sufficiently alleged that he engaged in statutorily protected activity, that a causal connection between the activity and his termination exists, and that Evonik's reason for terminating him is pretext for retaliation.

         I. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         The court reviews a Rule 12(c) motion for judgment on the pleadings under the same standard as a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss. Carbone v. Cable News Network, Inc., 910 F.3d 1345, 1350 (11th Cir. 2018) (citing Hawthorne v. Mac Adjustment, Inc., 140 F.3d 1367, 1370 (11th Cir. 1998)). Under Rule 12(b)(6), a defendant may move to dismiss a complaint for “failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.” To survive a motion to dismiss, the complaint must allege “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). To be plausible on its face, the complaint must contain enough “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, 678 (2009). And on a motion to dismiss, the court accepts as true the factual allegations in the complaint and construes them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Id.

         But not all allegations can defeat a motion to dismiss. “[L]abels and conclusions . . . will not do, ” and “[f]actual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. If the court determines that the well-pled facts in the complaint, accepted as true, do not state a plausible claim to relief, the court must dismiss the claim. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678.

         II. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

         Mr. Epperson worked as a chemical operator for Evonik in Birmingham, Alabama. In November 2017, a physician diagnosed Mr. Epperson with an atrial flutter and pneumonia. While in the hospital receiving treatment for his health issues, Mr. Epperson “called his supervisor multiple times to inform him that he was suffering from severe health complications and would not be returning to work until he fully recovered.” (Doc. 23 at ¶ 11).

         On November 17, 2017, Mr. Epperson requested FMLA leave from Evonik because he needed treatment for his medical conditions. Evonik notified Mr. Epperson that he had to complete the necessary FMLA application and “obtain a medical certification from his doctor.” (Doc. 23 at ¶ 14).

         Mr. Epperson collected the necessary FMLA paperwork from Evonik and delivered the medical certification form to his doctor. Mr. Epperson “was told that the doctor would send it to [Evonik], ” but he does not allege who told him that information. (Doc. 23 at ¶ 16).

         Mr. Epperson asserts that he took the same steps-i.e., he gave the medical certification form to his doctor and “believed that the doctor would send the certification directly to [Evonik]”-when he had successfully applied for FMLA leave from Evonik in 2014. (Doc. 23 at ¶ 18).

         Evonik never received Mr. Epperson's medical certification form. Regardless, from November 17 to December 7, 2017, Mr. Epperson took several days off ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.