HUNTINGTON – Holzer Clinic of West Virginia has been awarded summary judgment in a lawsuit brought by a former employee who claimed violations of the Family Medical Leave Act and age discrimination.
On April 11, U.S. District Judge Robert C. Chambers, of the Southern District of West Virginia, granted Holzer Clinic’s request for summary judgment in Beth Robinson’s lawsuit, which was originally brought in Putnam County Circuit Court in December 2012.
Robinson claimed she was fired while performing restricted work duties, which resulted from elbow surgery.
“The only evidence Plaintiff sets forth in support of her claim is her own testimony,” Chambers wrote.
“Plaintiff states in her response to Defendant’s motion that [i]t is believed some employees who were allowed to work from home were younger than the Plaintiff, but as discovery has not been completed, the Plaintiff cannot state this as factual.’”
All discovery requests were to be completed by Sept. 6, but Robinson made two five days after the deadline. They were denied by Magistrate Judge Dwane Tinsely.
“As a result, Plaintiff has no evidence, aside from her own suppositions, to support her claim. Plaintiff’s conjecture about what evidence may exist is simply insufficient to survive a motion for summary judgment,” Chambers wrote.
Robinson claimed in September 2011, she had required surgery on her elbow by the defendant and following the surgery, she contracted Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy, also known as Complex Regional Pain Syndrome.
On Sept. 8, 2011, Robinson applied for and was granted Family Medical Leave Act absence, which expired on Nov. 8, 2011, according to the suit.
Robinson claims she requested and was granted a leave of absence due to her Long Term Disability designation placed by her, which expired on Feb. 6, 2012.
On Feb. 28, 2012, Robinson’s physician sent a recommendation to the defendant outlining work restrictions for March and April 2012 and for her to work from home during those months with a maximum of 20 hours per week, according to the suit.
Robinson claimed while she was working from home, the defendant hired a former employee for 20 hours per week in the Marketing Department who was younger than her.
On July 10, 2012, Robinson received a letter stating that since her physician had not released her to return to work, it was no longer possible for her to remain an active full-time employee and she would be removed from payroll, according to the suit.
Chambers also wrote that the plaintiff did not establish a causal nexus between Robinson taking FMLA time off and her termination.
“Moreover, Defendant articulated ‘a legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason for’ her termination, that is, she was never released by her doctor to return to full-time employment,” Chambers wrote.
Robinson’s injury that caused the surgery was not work-related. She also lost her claim that she was not paid final wages within 72 hours of her termination.
Robinson was represented by Fred F. Holroyd. Holzer was represented by Michael R. Dockery.