United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
L. WHITE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter is before the court on Defendant St. Luke's Motion
for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 34). This matter is fully
briefed and ready for disposition.
Karen Beckley ("Beckley") was hired in March of
1995 as a Surgical Technician in the Labor & Delivery
Department of St. Luke's Episcopal-Presbyterian Hospitals
d/b/a St. Luke's (herein, "St. Luke's" or
"Defendant"). (Defendant's Statement of
Uncontroverted Facts ("DSOF"), ECF No. 36,
¶l). A Surgical Technician is a non-licensed,
non-degreed support position with the principal job duty of
passing instruments in the operating room. (DSOF, ¶2).
In 2012, Beckley sought out a full-time position as a
Surgical Technician in the Operating Room Department
("ORD"). (DSOF, ¶5). Beckley obtained the
position as a Surgical Technician in the ORD and remained in
this position until her termination on March 20, 2015. (DSOF,
¶8). Ginny Babcock ("Babcock") promoted
Beckley to the ORD, making her a full-time employee, with the
full understanding that Beckley was already on
leave and would need to take additional FMLA leave in the
future. (DSOF, ¶47). Beckley's departmental change
was accompanied by a change in some of her job
responsibilities, including required "on-call"
shifts. (DSOF, ¶¶9-ll). As a condition of "on
call" shifts, Beckley was required to remain accessible
while off-duty during the shift. (DSOF, ¶I2).
Individuals scheduled for "on-call" shifts, had to
be able to report to work within approximately 30 minutes of
receiving a call in order to respond to an emergency
situation. (DSOF, ¶I4).
Beckley's first FMLA leave in the ORD, Babcock approved
another intermittent FMLA leave, running from February 2013
through August 2013. (DSOF, ¶48). Later, Beckley applied
for and was granted FMLA leave from April 2014 through April
2015. (DSOF, ¶49). Beckley notified her supervisor on
January 6, 2015 of her need to take FMLA leave from December
31, 2014 through January 29, 2015. (DSOF, ¶7l).
Beckley's employment was terminated on March 20, 2015.
was reprimanded on multiple occasions, each time by a
different Charge Nurse regarding her failure to respond
appropriately to emergency call requests. (DSOF, ¶I6).
Each time Beckley was reprimanded, she was counseled on the
appropriate on-call procedures and the department's
expectations. (DSOF, ¶I7). Beckley was informed further
work-related issues would lead to higher levels of
discipline, including possible termination. (DSOF, ¶I8).
Beckley received a level 1 warning in March of 2014 for
failing to respond to Charge Nurse Patty Cowee's
emergency call requests during her scheduled on-call service
period. (DSOF, ¶I9). Beckley admits that this discipline
was unrelated to her taking FMLA. (DSOF, ¶2O). Within 5
months of receiving this warning, Beckley received a Level 2
warning and then a Final Warning for again failing to respond
to on-call requests. (DSOF, ¶2l). Beckley acknowledged
that the underlying facts concerning her discipline were
correct as she failed to comply with the call-in policy.
(DSOF, ¶22). Each disciplinary action involved a
different Charge Nurse, none of whom had any role in
Beckley's termination. (DSOF, ¶23).
on March 13, 2014, Beckley was counseled for inattention to
details. (DSOF, ¶24). On another occasion, a student,
working under Beckley's supervision, provided a surgeon
with a syringe containing an anti-coagulant, instead of
saline water. (DSOF, ¶25). Beckley acknowledged that she
was ultimately responsible for the mistake, including the
mislabeled syringe. (DSOF, ¶26). Babcock did not
discipline Beckley for this event even though, in
Beckley's estimation, it was a "big deal".
(DSOF, ¶¶27-28). During an open patient gall
bladder surgery on March 9, 2015, Beckley (1) became
accidentally contaminated and failed to follow Hospital
sterility policy by walking into the sterile field twice, (2)
used poor judgment when counting surgical equipment during
surgery, and (3) left the surgical team in the middle of
surgery for an extended period. (DSOF, ¶34).
was informed of her termination on March 20, 2015. (DSOF,
¶43). The notice included her prior warnings,
discipline, and a summary of events in the gall bladder
surgery. (DSOF, ¶44). Both of Beckley's supervisors,
Susan Miller ("Miller") and Babcock, were
responsible for Beckley's termination. (DSOF, ¶45).
around March 20, 2017, Beckley filed an action in St. Louis
County, Missouri Circuit Court alleging claims for
Interference with FMLA Rights (Count I) and Retaliation in
Violation of FMLA (Count II). (ECF No. 4). On April 21, 2017,
Defendant removed this action to federal court, asserting
federal question jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C.
§§1331. (ECF No. 1). On July 20, 2017, this Court
dismissed Count I of Beckley's Complaint. (ECF No. 19,
20). On March 9, 2018, Defendant filed the instant Motion for
Summary Judgment as to Count II of her Complaint. (ECF No.
MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT
Standard of Review
Court may grant a motion for summary judgment if "the
pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and
admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any,
show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact
and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter
of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c); Celotex Corp. v.
Citrate, Ml U.S. 317, 322 (1986); Torgerson v. City
of Rochester, 643 F.3d 1031, 1042 (8th Cir. 2011). The
substantive law determines which facts are critical and which
are irrelevant. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., Ml
U.S. 242, 248 (1986). Only disputes over facts that might
affect the outcome will properly preclude summary judgment.
Id. Summary judgment is not proper if the evidence
is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the
nonmoving party. Id.
moving party always bears the burden of informing the Court
of the basis of its motion. Celotex Corp., Ml U.S.
at 323. Once the moving party discharges this burden, the
nonmoving party must set forth specific facts demonstrating
that there is a dispute as to a genuine issue of material
fact, not the "mere existence of some alleged factual
dispute." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e); Anderson, Ml ...