United States District Court, M.D. Tennessee, Nashville Division
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
WAVERLY D. CRENSHAW, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
West filed this lawsuit in state court against his former
employer, CSX Transportation, Inc. (“CSXT”),
alleging violations of the Family Medical and Leave Act
(“FMLA”), 29 U.S.C. § 2601, et
seq., arising from the termination of his employment.
(Doc. No. 1-1.) CSXT removed the case to this Court, pursuant
to 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a), because the Court has federal
question jurisdiction over the case under 28 U.S.C. §
1331. (Doc. No. 1.) Before the Court is CSXT's Motion to
Dismiss. (Doc. No. 6.) For the following reasons, CSXT's
motion is GRANTED.
a former conductor for CSXT. (Doc. No. 1-1 at 4.) On February
11, 2014, CSXT approved West for intermittent leave under the
FMLA for his mental health condition. (Id. at 4,
about September 27, 2014, West called his dispatch office and
requested that it place him on FMLA leave for his next work
day, September 29, 2014, for a scheduled doctor's
appointment. (Id.) However, later on September 27,
West had an episode related to his mental health condition
that led to his arrest. (Id.) West was unable to
make bond from that arrest, and missed his doctor's
September 30, 2016, Wayne Sisco of the United Transportation
Union (the “Union”) submitted a request that CSXT
give West a thirty day leave of absence starting on September
29. (Id. at 4-5.) On October 8, 2014, CSXT opened a
disciplinary case concerning West's misuse of FMLA leave.
(Id. at 5.) CSXT's charge letter informed West
that it is investigating whether he misused FMLA leave on
September 27, 28, 29, 30, and October 1, 2, and 3.
(Id. at 26.) On October 14, CSXT denied the
Union's request for West's leave of absence because
West had an open disciplinary case. (Id. at 5.) The
Union representatives protested CSXT's refusal to grant
the leave of absence because, they claimed, had CSXT granted
the leave of absence in a timely fashion, the disciplinary
charges would have been avoided. (Id.) CSXT held a
hearing on the disciplinary charges. (Id.) Following
the hearing, CSXT terminated West's employment.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
purposes of a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), the
Court must take all the factual allegations in the complaint
as true. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 677
(2009). To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must
contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state
a claim for relief that is plausible on its face.
Id. 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. Threadbare recitals
of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere
conclusory statements, do not suffice. Id. When
there are well-pleaded factual allegations, a court should
assume their veracity and then determine whether they
plausibly give rise to an entitlement to relief. Id.
at 679. A legal conclusion couched as a factual allegation
need not be accepted as true on a motion to dismiss, nor are
recitations of the elements of a cause of action sufficient.
Fritz v. Charter Township of Comstock, 592 F.3d 718,
722 (6th Cir. 2010).
brings two independent claims under the FMLA: (1) FMLA
interference and (2) a declaration of the rights and
obligations of the parties under the FMLA. (Doc. No. 1-1 at
6-7.) CSXT argues that the FMLA does not provide a cause of
action for his second claim. (Doc. No. 7 at 4.) West does not
respond to this argument in his response. (Doc. No. 7.) Under
the Court's Local Rules, when a party fails to respond to
an argument, it concedes that argument. LR 7.01(b). The Court
agrees that 29 U.S.C. § 2617(a) does not provide for a
declaratory judgment, and grants the motion to dismiss
West's second claim.
argues that West received all FMLA benefits to which he was
entitled. (Doc. No. 7 at 3.) It further asserts that West did
not take his FMLA leave on September 29 for its intended
purpose, and therefore was not entitled to reinstatement.
(Doc. No. 7 at 4.) West argues that he was incarcerated for
the medical condition that allowed him to received FMLA
leave, and therefore his incarceration should be covered
under the FMLA. (Doc. No. 14 at 3.)
December 1, 2016, the Court ordered further briefing on the
issue of whether West was entitled to use FMLA leave while
incarcerated. (Doc. No. 18.) In his supplemental brief, West
reasserts that his absence “was the result of his
chronic serious health condition, ” and therefore
“incarceration does not negate his entitlement to FMLA
leave.” (Doc. No. 19 at 3.) CSXT asserts that West
did not miss work because of his serious health condition,
but instead that he could not make bond, which is fatal to
West's claim. (Doc. No. 20 at 2.)
establish a prima facie case of FMLA interference, an
employee must show that “(1) he was an eligible
employee; (2) the defendant was a covered employer under the
FMLA; (3) he was entitled to take leave under the FMLA; (4)
he notified his employer of his intent to take leave; and (5)
the employer denied him benefits or rights to which he was
entitled under the FMLA.” Demyanovich v. Cadon
Plating & Coatings, L.L.C., 747 F.3d 419, 427 (6th
Cir. 2014) (citing Edgar v. JAC Products, Inc., 443
F.3d 501, 507 (6th Cir. 2006)).
West does not allege that CSXT denied him any benefits or
rights to which he was entitled under the FMLA. The only
benefit or right to which West claims entitlement is
reinstatement. However, the right to reinstatement only
applies to an “eligible employee who takes [FMLA leave]
for the intended purpose of the leave.” 29 U.S.C.
§ 2614(a)(1) (2008). Here, West does not allege that he
used his FMLA leave on September 29, 2014, for the intended
purpose of attending his doctor's appointment, so he has
no right to reinstatement. Further, West does not allege that
he would have been reinstated had he not taken leave. 29
U.S.C. § 2614(a)(3)(B). Rather, he still would have been
absent without leave for multiple days while incarcerated,
which is a legitimate reason for CSXT to fire him. See
Bryson v. Regis Corp., 498 F.3d 561, ...