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Yousuf v. Fairview Health Servs.

United States District Court, D. Minnesota

October 24, 2014

Khadara-Ayan Yousuf, Plaintiff,
v.
Fairview Health Services d/b/a University of Minnesota Medical Center, Fairview, Defendant

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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Khadara-Ayan Yousuf, Plaintiff, Pro se, St. Paul, MN.

For Fairview University Medical Center, Defendant: Penelope J Phillips, Randi J Winter, LEAD ATTORNEYS, Felhaber Larson Fenlon & Vogt, PA, Mpls, MN.

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ORDER

JOAN N. ERICKSEN, United States District Judge.

Plaintiff Khadara-Ayan Yousuf, a U.S. citizen and a Muslim woman of Somali national origin, sued her former employer, Defendant Fairview Health Services (" Fairview" ), for discrimination based on race, sex, pregnancy, religion, and national origin in violation of Title VII, 42 U.S.C. § § 2000e et seq, and 42 U.S.C. § 1981. Defendant filed a motion for summary judgment. This matter is before the Court on Defendant's motion.

I. BACKGROUND

Yousuf worked as a lab technician at Fairview until she was terminated in February 2009. The terms of Yousuf's employment were governed by Fairview policies and a collective bargaining agreement.

In October 2008, Yousuf's husband was injured in a car accident in Belgium. Yousuf left for Europe on October 27, 2008 to care for him. Fairview approved a twelve-week leave of absence through January 19, 2009 pursuant to the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), 29 U.S.C. § § 2601-2654. Yousuf alleges that she requested and received an extension until February 16 from Cindy Ness, the scheduling coordinator for the lab. Yousuf Dep. 50:4-9. Ness denies granting a leave extension. Ness Dep. 38:8-24. Yousuf does not allege that she discussed the extension with Chris Senn and Priscilla Bormann, the decision makers who terminated Yousuf. Yousuf Dep. 44:1-5. Fairview scheduled Yousuf to work shifts on January 22, 23, 29, 30, and 31, and February 1, 5, 6, 12, 13, 14, and 15. Dep. Ex. 3 at FV000129-130; Dep. Ex. 4 at FV000120-121. It is undisputed that Yousuf missed these shifts.

Yousuf alleges that she became pregnant in December 2008 while on leave, though she did not tell Senn and Bormann about her pregnancy and there is no indication that she told anyone else at Fairview about the pregnancy. Yousuf Dep. 72:21-74:15. Yousuf also alleges that, in late January, a coworker told her that she had been crossed off the lab's work schedule and listed as a " no call/no show." Yousuf Dep. 58:24-60:10. Yousuf then called the lab to reach Ness and was transferred to Senn. Id. at 58:10-60:12. Her other supervisor, Bormann, was also on the phone but did not speak. Id. at 64:4-8. Yousuf says she told Senn that she was coming back on February 16. Id. at 48:1-12; 63:4-10. Senn told her that Fairview was cutting back on employee hours " [d]ue to the budget." Id. at 63:11-15. Senn also allegedly asked Yousuf: " Are you coming back? Are you staying [in] Germany and raising a family?" Id. at 63:15-17. At one point in the conversation, Senn allegedly said that she had " heard a rumor that [Yousuf was] staying in Germany and these people have babies left and right." Id. at 63:18-64:5. Yousuf replied, " What do you mean by that?" Id. at 63:21. Senn replied, " Never mind." Id. at 63:22. In

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deposition testimony, Senn denies making the comment about " these people" having babies. Senn Dep. 31:2-8. Senn also denies asking whether Yousuf planned to stay in Germany to raise a family but admits asking whether Yousuf planned to stay in Germany " to be with her husband." Id. at 30:4-31:1.

It is undisputed that Yousuf did not return to Minnesota until February 16. On February 10, 2009, Fairview sent Yousuf a letter of termination for " not returning from your FMLA when we agreed on such a date." Dep. Ex. 11.[1] On February 17, 2009, Fairview prepared formal termination paperwork that stated Plaintiff was terminated for " Job Abandonment" and that " Employee failed to return to work on 1/20/2009 upon expiration of leave of absence." Dep. Ex. 19.

Yousuf filed a complaint with the Minneapolis Department of Civil Rights (MDCR), which was cross-filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The MDCR issued a finding of no probable cause, which was adopted by the EEOC. Yousuf filed a lawsuit against Defendant on September 7, 2012 and an amended complaint on November 8, 2013.

The complaint does not allege that Plaintiff is entitled to additional rights or procedures under the FMLA, Fairview's policies, or the collective bargaining agreement. Also, the complaint does not claim that Plaintiff was entitled to additional leave time under any of these sources or that Fairview breached any duty by not extending Yousuf's leave. Further, the complaint does not allege that Fairview has granted additional leave time to other employees in similar situations but refused to grant such leave to Plaintiff. Rather, Plaintiff claims that Fairview's decision to terminate her was based on national origin, sex, pregnancy, and religious discrimination in violation of 42 U.S.C. § § 2000e et seq, and race discrimination in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1981. Fairview filed a motion for summary judgment on July 31, 2014.

For the reasons set forth below, Defendant's motion for summary judgment is granted and Plaintiff's claims are dismissed.

II. SUMMARY JUDGMENT STANDARD

The standards applicable to summary judgment are well established and well known. Summary judgment is proper " 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). To support an assertion that a fact cannot be or is genuinely disputed, a party must cite " to particular parts of materials in the record," show " that the materials cited do not establish the absence or presence of a genuine dispute," or show " that an adverse party cannot produce admissible evidence to support the fact." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1)(A)-(B). " The court need consider only the cited materials, but it may consider other materials in the record." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(3). In determining whether summary judgment is appropriate, a court must view facts that the parties genuinely dispute in the light most favorable to the nonmovant, Ricci v. DeStefano, 557 U.S. 557, 586, 129 S.Ct. 2658, 174 L.Ed.2d 490 (2009), and draw all justifiable inferences from the evidence in the nonmovant's favor, Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc.,

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477 U.S. 242, 255, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986).

III. DISCUSSION

This Court will first consider Plaintiff's sex and pregnancy discrimination claims and then consider the claims based on race, religion, and national origin.

A. Discrimination Based on Sex and Pregnancy

Title VII prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of sex. 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2(a)(1). Sex-based discrimination under Title VII includes discrimination based on " pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions." Id. at § 2000e(k). Yousuf's sex discrimination claim is based on her pregnancy. Yousuf may show sex and pregnancy discrimination by showing that sex " was a motivating factor for any employment practice, even though other factors also motivated the practice." 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2(m).

To establish her pregnancy-based discrimination claims, Yousuf must show that her employer was sufficiently aware of her pregnancy to be able to discriminate against her based on the pregnancy. See Hunter v. United Parcel Serv., Inc., 697 F.3d ...


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