United States District Court, D. Oregon
Benjamin Rosenthal, Of Attorneys for Plaintiff.
Christine Burns, BurnsBarton, LLP, 45 West Jefferson,
Elizabeth D. MacGregor, Lorber, Greenfield & Polito, LLP,
Rachel C. Nies, Lorber, Greenfield & Polito, Of Attorneys
OPINION AND ORDER
Michael H. Simon United States District Judge.
Loan Webb sues her former employer, Intel Corporation, for
interference with the exercise of her rights under the Family
and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”), 29 U.S.C.
§2611, et seq. Defendant moves to dismiss
Plaintiffs Complaint on the ground that it fails to state a
claim for relief. For the reasons discussed, Defendant's
amended motion to dismiss is denied.
motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim may be granted
only when there is no cognizable legal theory to support the
claim or when the complaint lacks sufficient factual
allegations to state a facially plausible claim for relief.
Shroyer v. New Cingular Wireless Servs., Inc., 622
F.3d 1035, 1041 (9th Cir. 2010). In evaluating the
sufficiency of a complaint's factual allegations, the
court must accept as true all well-pleaded material facts
alleged in the complaint and construe them in the light most
favorable to the non-moving party. Wilson v.
Hewlett-Packard Co., 668 F.3d 1136, 1140 (9th Cir.
2012); Daniels-Hall v. Nat'l Educ. Ass'n,
629 F.3d 992, 998 (9th Cir. 2010). To be entitled to a
presumption of truth, allegations in a complaint “may
not simply recite the elements of a cause of action, but must
contain sufficient allegations of underlying facts to give
fair notice and to enable the opposing party to defend itself
effectively.” Starr v. Baca, 652 F.3d 1202,
1216 (9th Cir. 2011). All reasonable inferences from the
factual allegations must be drawn in favor of the plaintiff.
Newcal Indus. v. Ikon Office Solution, 513 F.3d
1038, 1043 n.2 (9th Cir. 2008). The court need not, however,
credit the plaintiffs legal conclusions that are couched as
factual allegations. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S.
662, 678-79 (2009).
complaint must contain sufficient factual allegations to
“plausibly suggest an entitlement to relief, such that
it is not unfair to require the opposing party to be
subjected to the expense of discovery and continued
litigation.” Starr, 652 F.3d at 1216. “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.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (citing
Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 556
employed Plaintiff as a technical contract manager, or
project manager, between June 20, 2009 and July 24, 2015. ECF
1 ¶ 4. At some point before June 17, 2015, Plaintiff
received approval to take an eight-week
“sabbatical.” ECF 1 ¶ 10. Instead of taking
this sabbatical, however, Plaintiff applied and was approved
to take four weeks of FMLA leave for her depression,
beginning June 17, 2015 and ending July 17, 2015. ECF 1
¶ 9. Upon completion of her approved FMLA leave on July
17, Plaintiff did not return to work, intending to begin her
previously-approved eight-week sabbatical. ECF 1 ¶ 11.
Defendant terminated Plaintiffs employment on July 28, 2015,
with an effective date of July 23, 2015. ECF 1 ¶ 12.
alleges that her termination violated the FMLA because
Defendant interfered with and retaliated against Plaintiffs
exercise of FMLA rights. Plaintiff alleges that Defendant
interfered with her rights under the FMLA by: (1) failing to
notify Plaintiff in writing of the consequences of failing to
return from leave; (2) rescinding its approval of Plaintiff s
sabbatical; and (3) denying Plaintiffs attempts to return to
work and ultimately terminating her. Plaintiff also alleges
that, at all relevant times, Defendant knew or should have
known that Plaintiff was on leave due to her medical
condition and required additional FMLA leave. Plaintiff also
brings a claim for common law wrongful discharge under Oregon
law, alleging that Defendant terminated her for pursuing her
rights under the FMLA. Defendant moves to dismiss both
that “it is unfair for an employee to be terminated
when he or she is struck with a serious illness and is not
capable of working, ” Congress enacted the FMLA.
Bachelder v. Am. W. Airlines, Inc., 259 F.3d 1112,
1119 (9th Cir. 2001) (quoting S.Rep. No. 103-3 at 11, 103d
Cong., 2d Sess. (1993)). The FMLA provides that
“eligible employee[s]” are “entitled to a
total of 12 workweeks of leave during any 12-month
period” because of, among other things, a
“serious health condition that makes the employee
unable to perform the functions of [her] position.” 29
U.S.C. §§ 2611(2)(A)(i)-(ii) and 2612(a)(1)(D).
Employers covered by the FMLA must allow their employees to
take FMLA leave for qualifying conditions and may not
“interfere with, restrain, or deny the exercise of its
employees' FMLA rights. 29 U.S.C. § 2615(a)(1).
Employers are also proscribed from “discharging] or in
any other manner discriminating] against any individual for
opposing any practice made unlawful by [the FMLA.]”
§ 2615(a)(2) and (b). Defendant argues that Plaintiff
does not state a claim for retaliation under the FMLA, that
Plaintiff was not protected by the FMLA at the time of her
termination and thus also does not state an FMLA interference
claim, and that Plaintiff does not state a claim for wrongful
discharge under Oregon law.
FMLA Interference Claim
contends that Plaintiff has failed to allege sufficient facts
to state a claim for interference under the FMLA. Defendant
first argues that Plaintiffs claim that she was terminated
for reasons related to her use of FMLA leave does not state a
claim for retaliation under FMLA but rather falls
under Plaintiffs FMLA interference prong. The Ninth
Circuit has held that terminating an employee for the use of
FMLA leave constitutes interference. Bachelder v. Am. W.
Airlines, Inc.,259 F.3d 1112, 1124 (9th Cir. 2001).
“[W]here an employee is subjected to negative
consequences simply because [s]he has used FMLA leave, the
employer has interfered with the employee's FMLA
rights.” Xin Liu v. Amway Corp., 347 F.3d