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.

Mayo v. St. Mary's Medical Center, Inc.

Supreme Court of West Virginia

April 7, 2017

Joseph H. Mayo, Plaintiff Below, Petitioner
v.
St. Mary's Medical Center, Inc., Defendant Below, Respondent

         (Cabell County 15-C-302)

          MEMORANDUM DECISION

         Petitioner Joseph H. Mayo, by counsel Hoyt Glazer, appeals the February 17, 2016, order of the Circuit Court of Cabell County granting respondent's motion for summary judgment as to petitioner's Family Medical Leave Act [1] (FMLA) interference and retaliation claims and petitioner's claims for gender and disability discrimination under the West Virginia Human Rights Act (WVHRA). Respondent St. Mary's Medical Center (SMMC), by counsel Ancil G. Ramey, filed a response in support of the circuit court's order. Petitioner filed a reply.

         This Court has considered the parties' briefs and the record on appeal. The facts and legal arguments are adequately presented, and the decisional process would not be significantly aided by oral argument. Upon consideration of the standard of review, the briefs, and the record presented, we find that the circuit court did not err with respect to its award of summary judgment to respondent as to petitioner's claims for interference and retaliation under the FMLA and gender and disability discrimination under the WVHRA. For these reasons, a memorandum decision affirming the circuit court's order is appropriate under Rule 21 of the Rules of Appellate Procedure.

         On December 12, 2005, petitioner was hired by respondent as a patient-billing clerk.[2]Petitioner worked in that capacity for nine years, until his employment was terminated in 2014. When he was hired, petitioner received a copy of respondent's Handbook and Standards of Behavior.[3] Respondent's Standards of Behavior caution employees to "avoid offensive language or tone . . . understand that body language and actions speak louder than words . . . that "[a]ll communications should be courteous and respectful" and that employees were to "[p]rovide a work environment free of harassment, offensive language, intimidation and hostility."

          Over the course of his employment with respondent, petitioner was the subject of several disciplinary actions. In October of 2008, petitioner was given a verbal warning regarding his absenteeism.[4] Petitioner was warned that if he "violate[d] any other Hospital policy, rules and or regulations" that he would be "subject to appropriate disciplinary action up to and including discharge."

         Several months later in March of 2009, petitioner was again disciplined after a number of his co-workers complained of his "inappropriate conduct and behavior."[5] Petitioner received a written warning and was suspended (unpaid) for one day.[6] The written warning advised petitioner that his conduct and behavior reflected "a lack of good judgment" and were "a violation of [respondent's] Standard[s] of Behavior." As a result of petitioner's conduct he, and his entire department, received disciplinary counseling and training.

         In December of 2010, respondent observed a "decrease in [p]etitioner's productivity, " and as a result began to monitor his job performance, which included an audit of his work emails. Respondent observed that, in five workdays between December 23, 2010, and December 30, 2010, petitioner sent 862 non-business related e-mails to a male co-worker, "some of which were sexually charged." Both petitioner and his co-worker were suspended (unpaid) for three days for the "excessive and sexually charged e-mails [exchanged] during work hours." By letter dated January 7, 2011, petitioner was advised that this disciplinary action was his final warning and that he would be immediately terminated if his inappropriate behavior continued. Further, petitioner was advised that the "gravity of [his] misconduct [wa]s sufficient to warrant discharge from employment." Respondent was especially critical of petitioner's sexually charged comments because they occurred after petitioner received counseling and training in a previous disciplinary action.

         On September 24, 2012, petitioner was given a second verbal warning regarding excessive absenteeism. Again, petitioner was advised that if he "violate[d] any other Hospital policy, rules and or regulations" he would be "subject to appropriate disciplinary action up to and including discharge."

         On August 6, 2014, petitioner was again the subject of a disciplinary action when one of his male co-workers made a verbal complaint regarding petitioner's inappropriate behavior.[7] On August 12, 2014, petitioner's co-worker submitted a formal letter of complaint in which he chronicled more than twenty instances of harassment perpetuated by petitioner and threats which became "more aggressive" over time.[8]

         On August 9, 2014, petitioner checked himself into HCA Riverpark Hospital, in an effort to seek treatment for depression, and was hospitalized for five days.[9] When petitioner retuned to work on August 18, 2014, he was presented with the written summary of allegations against him and placed on unpaid suspension. Petitioner was provided the opportunity to respond to the written allegations.

         On August 25, 2014, petitioner's employment with respondent was terminated. Petitioner was advised, by letter, that his conduct and behavior created an "uncomfortable, unproductive work environment." In this letter, petitioner's prior disciplinary actions were referenced and characterized by respondent as a "pattern of conduct that is unacceptable, and in violation of [respondent's] policies and Standard[s] of Behavior."

         In May of 2015, petitioner filed the underlying case against respondent. In his complaint, petitioner alleged that: (1) respondent "wrongfully interfered" in the exercise of petitioner's rights under the FMLA;[10] (2) respondent "retaliated" against petitioner for exercising his FMLA rights; (3) respondent violated the West Virginia Human Rights Act; (4) respondent's discharge of petitioner was "discriminatorily based upon gender;" (5) respondent's discharge of petitioner was "discriminatorily based upon race;"[11] (6) respondent's conduct "constituted the negligent infliction of emotion distress; and (7) respondent's conduct "constituted the intentional infliction of emotion distress." At the conclusion of discovery, petitioner filed a motion for summary judgment on his FMLA interference claim and respondent filed a similar motion for summary judgment on each of petitioner's claims.

         In support of his FMLA claim, petitioner argued that between 2006 and 2014, he availed himself of respondent's Employment Assistance Program ("EAP") based on his "subjective reports of depression and anxiety."[12] Respondent countered by citing the deposition testimony of its Human Resources Director who testified that he "had no knowledge of the reasons for [p]etitioner's hospitalization, and that [p]etitioner's depression was irrelevant to the decision to discharge him, which was based upon conduct wholly unrelated to depression." Respondent notes that petitioner was not discharged from his employment until he returned to work after being released by his physician. Further, the parties do not dispute that petitioner never asserted any FMLA rights.

         On February 6, 2016, the circuit court heard arguments on the parties' motions and, on February 17, 2016, entered its order denying petitioner's motion for summary judgment and granting respondent's motion for summary judgment. The circuit court found that petitioner did not comply with respondent's notice procedures for making FMLA claims and that his termination was not in any way related to FMLA or missing work while he was hospitalized from August 9 - 13, 2014. Further, the circuit court found that petitioner "testified that he had no evidence to substantiate" his other claims and that "there was no genuine issue of material fact regarding them." As such, the circuit court granted summary judgment on behalf of respondent. It is from the circuit court's February 17, 2016, order that petition now appeals.

         In his appeal, petitioner asserts five assignments of error, each relating to the circuit court's ruling on the parties' motions for summary judgment. We have long held that "[a] circuit court's entry of summary judgment is reviewed de novo." Syl. Pt. 1, Painter v. Peavy, 192 W.Va. 189, 451 S.E.2d 755 (1994). Likewise, we have held that "[t]his Court reviews de novo the denial of a motion for summary judgment, where such a ruling is properly reviewable by this Court." Syl. Pt. 1, Findley v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co., 213 W.Va. 80, 576 S.E.2d 807 (2002). Under Rule 56(c) of the West Virginia Rules of Civil Procedure, summary judgment is only appropriate when "there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and . . . the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law."

         In Knotts v. Grafton City Hospital, 237 W.Va. 169, 174, 786 S.E.2d ...


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.