Argued: March 24, 2016
from the United States District Court for the Eastern
District of Virginia, at Richmond. John A. Gibney, Jr.,
District Judge. (3:13-cv-00797-JAG)
Ann Kelly, THE LAW OFFICES OF MARY ANN KELLY, Fairfax,
Virginia, for Appellant.
E. Nagle, JACKSON LEWIS PC, Richmond, Virginia, for Appellee.
Crystal L. Tyler, JACKSON LEWIS PC, Richmond, Virginia, for
AGEE and WYNN, Circuit Judges, and Thomas D. SCHROEDER,
United States District Judge for the Middle District of North
Carolina, sitting by designation.
Vannoy sued his former employer, the Federal Reserve Bank of
Richmond ("FRBR"), for interference and retaliation
in violation of the Family and Medical Leave Act
("FMLA"), 29 U.S.C. § 2601, et seq.,
and failure to accommodate and discriminatory discharge in
violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act
("ADA"), 42 U.S.C. § 12101, et seq.
The district court granted summary judgment in FRBR's
favor as to all of the claims.
reasons discussed below, we affirm the district court's
judgment as to the FMLA retaliation claim and the ADA claims.
However, because genuine issues of material fact exist as to
whether FRBR interfered with Vannoy's FMLA rights by
providing him defective notice that omitted his right to
reinstatement at the conclusion of the medical leave term, we
hold that summary judgment as to that claim was not
warranted. Accordingly, we vacate that part of the district
court's judgment and remand for further proceedings as to
Vannoy's FMLA interference claim.
Factual and Procedural Background
worked for FRBR from 1994 until his termination on December
21, 2010, at which time he held the position of Project
Construction Manager / Technical Services Director within
FRBR's Facilities Management Department. By the summer of
2010, Vannoy's supervisors, Robert Minteer and Mattison
Harris, noticed Vannoy was having problems with his work and
attendance. In July 2010, Harris reported his concern that
Vannoy may be depressed to FRBR's Medical Director, Dr.
Brugh, who had treated Vannoy for depression previously, was
aware of Vannoy's history of depression "going way
back, " and that Vannoy had taken antidepressant
medications "for a long time." J.A.
419-20. As the Medical Director of
the Health Services Department, Dr. Brugh was responsible for
core aspects of FRBR's FMLA and ADA compliance,
including: evaluating and treating employees; overseeing
administration of short term disability and ADA benefits;
working closely with human resources on health and disability
related benefits; overseeing and reviewing applications for
FMLA leave; and working with FRBR departments in connection
with employee performance issues potentially related to
health problems. The record does not reflect that Dr. Brugh
ever spoke with Vannoy about his rights and responsibilities
under the FMLA.
September 23, 2010, Vannoy saw Mimi Kline, a licensed
professional counselor, who diagnosed him with "major
depression" and noted his need for "an in-patient
30-day program." J.A. 169.
on October 22 and lasting through November 15, Vannoy had
several unscheduled absences from work, which he cleared
informally with his supervisors by text message or email. The
record does not indicate whether these absences were to seek
medical treatment. However, the record does show that Vannoy
was admitted to St. Mary's Hospital on November 10 for
psychiatric treatment. His family informed Harris and Dr.
Brugh that Vannoy was in the hospital, and Dr. Brugh spoke
directly with Vannoy during his hospital stay. Vannoy's
physicians recommended that he enter a 30-day rehabilitation
program for treatment of depression and alcohol dependency,
but Vannoy refused, expressing concern that taking additional
time off from work would result in termination. Vannoy was
discharged from the hospital on November 13.
that time, Vannoy submitted his application for short term
disability, which also functioned as a request for FMLA
leave. To that application, Vannoy attached a physician's
statement from his primary care doctor taking him out of work
from November 10 to December 10. Based on these documents,
FRBR determined and notified Vannoy that he was eligible for
leave under the FMLA through December 10.
parties' accounts diverge as to whether Vannoy received
sufficient individualized notice of his FMLA rights and
responsibilities as required by the Act. FRBR represents that
it sent Vannoy the applicable notice document on November 16,
but Vannoy asserts that he did not receive it. In any event,
the notice FRBR claims to have sent omitted reference to job
protection rights, the precise information Vannoy contends he
needed to answer his concerns that continued absences for
treatment of his depression and alcoholism would result in
of losing his job, Vannoy reported to work on November 15
without a doctor's note and well before the end of his
approved FMLA leave period. FRBR sent Vannoy home with
instructions that he could not return to work until he
obtained a release from his physician. Shortly thereafter
Vannoy provided FRBR a doctor's note, allowing him to
return to "full work duty" as of November 15. J.A.
203. Vannoy returned to work on November 16.
November 18, Vannoy arranged a meeting with Minteer and
Harris to follow up about his recent hospitalization and
ongoing medical issues. Apparently, the FMLA was not
discussed during this meeting, though Vannoy states he was
"reassured that [his] job was not in jeopardy."
J.A. 118. Vannoy contends he reiterated to his supervisors
that he ...