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.

Arriola v. Cardinal Stritch University Inc.

United States District Court, E.D. Wisconsin

February 28, 2019

DR. KARL ARRIOLA, Plaintiff,
v.
CARDINAL STRITCH UNIVERSITY, INC., Defendant.

          DECISION AND ORDER

          WILLIAM E. DUFFIN, U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         Plaintiff Dr. Karl Arriola brought this action against defendant Cardinal Stritch University, Inc., alleging that the termination of his employment violated the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), 29 U.S.C. § 2601, et seq. Both parties consented to the jurisdiction of a magistrate judge. Cardinal Stritch has moved for summary judgment, and Arriola has moved for partial summary judgment. Both motions have been fully briefed and are ready for resolution.

         FACTS

         Cardinal Stritch is a private university in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. (ECF No. 47, ¶ 2.) It hired Arriola as an Adjunct Professor in 2010. (Id., ¶ 3.) Beginning on March 1, 2017, Cardinal Stritch employed Arriola as an Assistant Professor and Chair of the College of Business. (Id., ¶ 4.)

         On or about September 14, 2017, Arriola met with Cardinal Stritch Human Resources representative Jacqueline Sukowaty and reported two interactions that had occurred with his co-workers. (ECF No. 47, ¶ 6.) In a written statement provided to Sukowaty, Arriola described the two incidents. (ECF No. 34-1.) The first incident was alleged to have occurred at the end of July during a meeting with three faculty members of the College of Business and Management. During the meeting, the Dean of the College of Business and Management allegedly said to Arriola, “Oh, I see your PTSD coming out.” (Id. at 1.) Although Arriola admits that he had previously told other faculty members, as well as the dean's wife, that he had been diagnosed with PTSD, he alleged that the remark was unprofessional because it implied that Arriola's PTSD clouded his judgment. The comment “caused Dr. Arriola to feel embarrassed and belittled[.]” (Id.)

         The second incident allegedly occurred on September 13, 2017-the day before Arriola's meeting with Sukowaty. Arriola alleged that at a faculty development meeting a professor walked up behind a co-worker and twice said, “Say hi.” (ECF No. 34-1 at 1.) Arriola claimed that the comment was made “in a very demeaning and bullying tone.” (Id.) After the meeting was concluded, Arriola reported the incident to the Associate Dean of the College of Business and Management. (Id. at 1-2.) Approximately an hour later, while Arriola was engaged in a conversation with a co-worker, the professor who said, “Say hi, ” came up behind Arriola, poked him in the back with her finger, and said, “Snitches get stitches.” (Id. at 2.) After work that day, Arriola went to the Fox Point Police Department and filed an assault and battery complaint against the professor. (Id. at 3.)

         Arriola called in sick on September 14 and 15, stating that “he feels this is a very Hostile Work Environment and he has been physically ill since yesterday with stress from it.” (ECF No. 34-1 at 3.) He claimed that he was worried about retaliation from the dean, assistant dean, and professor at issue and that “his job will be affected from this and how much damage [the professor] will be able to do to sabotage or jeopardize his career.” (Id.)

         Having not returned to work since September 13, on September 19, 2017, Arriola informed Cardinal Stritch, “I will be on leave until my physician determines I can return back to work, as I am under professional treatment.” (ECF No. 34-2 at 1.) Arriola provided a letter to Cardinal Stritch from his physician, Dr. Joseph Paukner. (ECF No. 47, ¶ 9.) Other than noting that Arriola had a follow-up appointment scheduled for October 10, 2017, Dr. Paukner's letter stated in its entirety: “This is to certify that Karl E Arriola has been under Joseph L Paukner, MD's care from 9/19/2017 and was off work 9/14/17 thru 10-10-17.” (ECF No. 34-2 at 2.)

         Two days later, on September 21, 2017, Sukowaty notified Arriola that he was eligible for leave under the State of Wisconsin Family and Medical Leave Act through September 28, 2017. (ECF No. 34-3 at 2.) Sukowaty also told Arriola that he was not eligible for leave under the federal FMLA, but that Cardinal Stritch would grant Arriola leave under its unpaid personal leave policy. (ECF No. 47, ¶ 12; ECF No. 34-3 at 2.) Sukowaty's letter warned Arriola that “[f]ailure to return to work upon the expiration of the leave of absence will be considered a voluntary resignation of employment.” (ECF No. 34-3 at 2.) In a separate email that same day Sukowaty asked Arriola whether he would like to use sick time beginning September 14, 2017. (ECF No. 34-3 at 1.) On September 27, 2017, Arriola emailed Sukowaty that, “From the dates of 09/14 to 09/29 yes, I am in agreement and would like to use my Sick Time to become paid.” (ECF No. 34-5 at 1.)

         On October 9, 2017, Arriola requested an extension of his leave until November 9, 2017. (ECF No. 47, ¶ 14.) He stated, “I wanted to follow-up with you prior to the October 10th requirement that I have seen my doctor this afternoon, and I am being extended for another 30 days until 11/09 when he wants to see me for another follow-up appointment.” (ECF No. 34-6 at 1.) The request was supported by a note from Dr. Paukner, which stated in its entirety: “This is to certify that Karl E Arriola has been under Joseph L Paukner, MD's care from 10/9/2017 and is excused from work on 10/09/2017 to 11/09/2017.” (ECF No. 34-6 at 2.) In a letter from Sukowaty to Arriola dated October 13, 2017, Cardinal Stritch granted Arriola's request that his leave be extended. (ECF No. 47, ¶ 14; ECF No. 34-7 at 2.) Sukowaty's letter again warned Arriola that “[f]ailure to return to work upon the expiration of the leave of absence or refusing an offer of reinstatement for which you are qualified will be considered a voluntary resignation of employment.” (ECF No. 34-7 at 2.)

         On November 9, 2017, Arriola requested another extension of his leave of absence until December 21, 2017. (ECF No. 47, ¶ 15.) He stated, “I have just come home from seeing my doctor and please find his letter of medical leave being extended to 12/21 as I have another appointment at that time.” (ECF No. 34-8 at 1.) It was supported by a note from Dr. Paukner that stated: “This is to certify that Karl E Arriola has been under Joseph L Paukner, MD's care from 11/9/2017 and will be off work for 6 weeks. Pt will f/u with Dr. Paukner in 6 weeks.” (Id.; ECF No. 34-8 at 3.) In a November 9, 2017 letter from Sukowaty, Cardinal Stritch advised Arriola that it was approving an extension of his leave through December 21, 2017. (ECF No. 47, ¶ 16; ECF No. 34-9 at 2.) Sukowaty's letter to Arriola advised him that, “[a]s of today, all of your accrued but unused sick time has been exhausted.” (ECF No. 34-9 at 2.)

         On December 21, 2017, Arriola emailed Sukowaty, “A s promised, please find the letter of medical leave from my doctor's appointment which occurred today.” (ECF No. 34-10 at 1.) Attached was a note from Dr. Paukner which stated: “This is to certify that Karl E Arriola has been under Joseph L Paukner, MD's care from 12/21/2017 and is unable to return to work until January 22, 2018.” (Id.; ECF No. 34-10 at 2.)

         In a letter from Michael Hoffman, Director of Human Resources, to Arriola dated January 2, 2018, Cardinal Stritch informed Arriola that his most recent request for an extension of his personal leave was not approved and that it was terminating his employment effective December 21, 2017. (ECF No. 34-11.)

         Six days later, Arriola filed his complaint in this action. The complaint contains two causes of action: FMLA interference, and FMLA retaliation. (ECF No. 1.)

         SUMMARY JUDGMENT STANDARD

         “The court shall grant summary judgment if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). The party seeking summary judgment “bears the initial responsibility of informing the district court of the basis for its motion, and identify” the evidence which “demonstrate[s] the absence of a genuine issue of material fact.” Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). To establish a genuine issue of fact, the nonmoving party must come forward with specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial, not “simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts.Matsushita Elec., Indus. Co., Ltd., v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986). If the nonmoving party fails to establish the existence of an essential element on which it bears the burden of proof at trial, summary judgment is proper. Massey v. Johnson, 457 F.3d 711, 716 (7th Cir. 2006) (citing Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322-23).

         In ruling on a motion for summary judgment, the court must view all facts in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255 (1986). If a reasonable factfinder could find in favor of the nonmoving party, summary ...


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.