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Callison v. City of Philadelphia

May 19, 2005

DAVID W. CALLISON, APPELLANT
v.
CITY OF PHILADELPHIA



On Appeal from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania (D.C. Civil No. 03-cv-03008) District Judge: Hon. Legrome D. Davis

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Cowen, Circuit Judge.

PRECEDENTIAL

Submitted Pursuant to Third Circuit LAR 34.1(a) April 5, 2005

BEFORE: BARRY, AMBRO and COWEN, Circuit Judges

OPINION

David Callison appeals the District Court's order granting the City of Philadelphia's motion for summary judgment and denying Callison's motion for partial summary judgment. Callison limits his appeal to the portion of the order relating to his interference claim, and waives his retaliation claim. He asserts that the District Court failed to recognize that the enforcement of the City's sick leave policies against him while he was on leave pursuant to the Family and Medical Leave Act, 29 U.S.C. § 2601 et seq. ("FMLA") interfered with his substantive FMLA rights. We have jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1291 and will affirm.

The facts germane to this appeal are undisputed. Callison was initially employed by the City's Office of Fleet Management ("OFM") as a Heavy Duty Maintenance Technician on February 2, 1998. Callison had perfect attendance in his first year of employment; however, this record deteriorated. In about January 2000, Callison was diagnosed with deep anxiety reaction and stress, caused by stress at home and at work. That year Callison used twenty-six, and the following year used twelve, days of sick leave. Because of the significant amount of absences, the City placed Callison on a Sick Abuse List on October 30, 2000. Employees on this list are required to obtain medical certification for all sick days and are subject to progressive penalties for violations of the sick leave policies.

The OFM employee manual contains the following requirement for all employees on sick leave:

During regular working hours, when an employee is home on sick leave, the employee must notify the appropriate authority or designee when leaving home and upon return. An employee is to remain at home except for personal needs related to the reason for being on sick leave. While on sick leave an employee may be called or visited by a sick leave investigator unless the employee has 150 days or more of accumulated sick leave credit.

(App. at 109.)

On January 8, 2001, while still on the Sick Abuse List, Callison took another sick day. Callison never notified the Sick Control Hotline that he was leaving his home, and when an investigator telephoned his residence he was not there. Pursuant to the OFM's policy he was given a warning for this violation.

Following this violation, Callison was out on approved FMLA leave for approximately three months, from January 24 to April 17, 2001. On January 29 and February 7, 2001, the City conducted additional investigations and found that Callison was not home on those dates and had failed to notify the hotline. In accordance with the progressive penalties policy, Callison received a one and three day suspension, respectively, for his failures to notify the hotline that he was leaving his home. These suspensions were served by Callison, on May 8, 15, 16 and 17, 2001, after he returned to work from his FMLA leave.

We exercise plenary review over a District Court's order granting summary judgment. See Morton Int'l, Inc. v. A.E. Staley Mfg. Co., 343 F.3d 669, 679 (3d Cir. 2003). Summary judgment is appropriate if there is no issue of material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c). In evaluating the evidence, we "take the facts in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party... and draw all reasonable inferences in [its] favor." Doe v. County of Centre, 242 F.3d 437, 446 (3d Cir. 2001).

The primary purposes of the FMLA are to "balance the demands of the workplace with the needs of families" and "to entitle employees to take reasonable leave for medical reasons." 29 U.S.C. ยง 2601(b)(1) and (2). The FMLA endeavors to accomplish these purposes "in a manner that ...


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