MATTHEW J. NORDBY, Plaintiff,
SHANE COMPANY, INC., doing business as Western Stone and Metal Corp., Defendant.
Andrea F. Rubenstein and Lawrence P. Schaefer, Schaefer Law, LLC, Counsel for Plaintiff.
Daniel E. Friesen and Shannon M. Henderson, Friesen Lamb, LLP, and Jonathan P. Norrie, Bassford Remele, PA, Counsel for Defendant.
MEMORANDUM OF LAW & ORDER
MICHAEL J. DAVIS, Chief District Judge.
This matter is before the Court on Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment. [Docket No. 13] The Court heard oral argument on April 12, 2013. Because Plaintiff was not an eligible employee under the Family and Medical Leave Act ("FMLA"), the Court grants summary judgment for Defendant.
A. Factual Background
Defendant Shane Co. is a Colorado company that operates 21 retail jewelry stores in 13 states, including two in Minnesota, in Minnetonka and Woodbury. (Cunningham Decl. ¶ 2.) As of June 29, 2010, Shane Co. employed 46 employees in Minnesota: 22 at the Minnetonka store and 24 at the Woodbury store. (Id.; Cunningham Decl., Ex. A; Henderson Decl., Exs. R-S; Henderson Decl., Ex. A, Nordby Dep. 152 (admitting that the Woodbury and Minnetonka stores were the only Shane Co. stores in Minnesota), 201-203 (testifying that he had no reason to think anyone worked in the Minnesota stores in June 2010 other than the 46 employees listed on the employee list and that he was not aware of anyone else that worked for Shane Co. in the Minneapolis area.) The next closest store to the Woodbury store is the Overland Park, Kansas, store which is more than 400 miles away. (Cunningham Decl. ¶ 2.)
Shane Co. avers that it maintains an FMLA policy because several of its retail markets have eligible employees under the FMLA - that is, at least 50 employees within a 75-mile radius. (Cunningham Decl. ¶ 3.) Shane Co. has permitted employees to take leaves of absence (either paid or unpaid, depending on the circumstances), despite an employee's ineligibility for protected leave under the FMLA. (Id.)
Plaintiff Matthew Nordby was hired by Shane Co. in January 2003. (Nordby Decl. ¶ 2.) Nordby requested and was granted FMLA leave by Shane Co. on two different occasions. First, in 2008, he took two weeks off for the birth of his child. (Id. ¶ 4; Nordby Decl., Ex. A.) Second, in May 2009, he took leave to treat anxiety and depression. (Nordby Decl. ¶ 5; Nordby Decl., Ex. B.)
Starting in March 2010, Nordby was the Store Manager of the Woodbury, Minnesota store. (Nordby Decl. ¶ 8.) At that time, he began to suffer from chronic and severe stomach pains. (Id. ¶¶ 9-11.) Nordby avers that, on June 22, 2010, he told a supervisor that he might soon need to take FMLA leave due to the pain. (Nordby Decl. ¶ 14.) He further avers that, on June 23, 2010, he told his immediate supervisor that he would need intermittent FMLA leave. (Id. ¶ 15.)
On June 29, 2010, Defendant terminated Nordby's employment. (Henderson Decl., Ex. A, Nordby Dep. 152-156.)
B. Procedural History
On November 22, 2011, Nordby served a Complaint against Shane Co., commencing an action in Washington County court. The Complaint alleges: Count One: Interference with Exercise of Rights under the FMLA and Count Two: Retaliation in Violation of the FMLA. On December 12, 2011, ...