United States District Court, E.D. North Carolina, Southern Division
TERRENCE W. BOYLE CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter is before the Court on defendant's motion for
partial dismissal. [DE 15]. The motion has been fully briefed
and is ripe for disposition. For the reasons that follow,
defendant's motion for partial dismissal [DE 15] is
2000, plaintiff began working in the admissions office of
Miller-Motte College, one of the "for-profit
post-secondary and career schools in the Southeast United
States" now operated by defendant Ancora Education
("Ancora"). [DE 13, ¶¶ 5, 10]. In 2015,
plaintiff was promoted to "Senior Admissions
Representative." Id. ¶ 12.
October 2017, plaintiff was diagnosed with Stage 3 breast
cancer. Id. ¶ 17. She informed her supervisor,
admissions director Adam Merritt, of her diagnosis and her
need to take medical leave. Id. ¶ 18. In
November 2017, plaintiff requested and received 12 weeks of
medical leave pursuant to the Family and Medical Leave Act
(FMLA). Id. ¶ 19. While plaintiff was
undergoing treatment, in January 2018, Miller-Motte College,
formerly operated by Delta Educational Systems, Inc., was
acquired by defendant Ancora. Id. ¶ 20.
January 2018, near the end of plaintiffs 12-week medical
leave, Mr. Merritt allegedly informed plaintiff that, if she
required additional medical leave, she would have to first
work an 8-hour day before submitting another request for
leave. Id. ¶ 37. Plaintiff did so, submitting
another request for medical leave in late January.
Id. ¶ 38. She then continued to receive medical
treatment throughout February and March. Id. ¶
40. Plaintiff never received a response to her second medical
leave request but assumed her request had been granted.
Id. ¶ 39. Plaintiff was hospitalized with an
infection associated with her cancer in "the first two
weeks of April 2018." Id. ¶ 43. At that
time, Mr. Merritt communicated with plaintiff via text
message and asked how she was doing. Id. ¶ 44.
April 19, 2018, "within days of Plaintiff s release from
the hospital," Mr. Merritt and one of defendant
Ancora's executives directors, Ms. Erin Easton, called
plaintiff and informed her that she was being terminated.
Id. ¶ 45. Mr. Merritt and Ms. Easton allegedly
informed plaintiff that she was being terminated because her
"FMLA leave was up." Id. ¶ 47. A few
days later, plaintiff received a letter from Ancora's
vice president of human resources informing her that her
"protected time off allowance ha[d] expired" and
terminating her employment effective April 20, 2018.
Id. ¶ 50. Plaintiff alleges that, after
receiving the termination letter, she called Mr. Merritt, who
told her that she could return to her position at
Miller-Motte College once she was healthy enough to do so.
Id. ¶ 52. But, in "late August or early
September 2018," plaintiff met with Ms. Easton and Mr.
Merritt and informed them that she was ready to return to
work, only to be told by Ms. Easton that Ancora would not
rehire her. Id. ¶¶ 58-60.
contends that she was "able and prepared to return to
work, and to perform the essential functions of her Senior
Admissions Representative job[, ] in early May 2018."
Id. ¶ 55. In October 2018, plaintiff filed a
charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
(EEOC), claiming that "she was denied a reasonable
accommodation for her disability and was unlawfully
discharged because of her disability in violation of the
[Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)]." Id.
¶ 61. The EEOC issued plaintiff a right-to-sue letter in
November 2018. Id. ¶ 62.
initiated this action in February 2019. [DE 1]. Plaintiff
alleges (1) that defendant unlawfully retaliated against her
for taking medical leave under the FMLA, (2) that she was
denied a reasonable accommodation for her disability under
the ADA, and (3) that she was unlawfully terminated because
of her disability under the ADA. Id. ¶¶
has moved to dismiss plaintiffs ADA claims under Rule
12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, arguing
that the only accommodation that plaintiff was seeking was
indefinite leave and, as a matter of law, indefinite leave is
not a reasonable accommodation under the ADA. [DE 15].
Plaintiff has responded in opposition to dismissal of her ADA
claims. [DE 20].
has moved to dismiss plaintiffs ADA claims for failure to
state a claim upon which relief can be granted under Rule
12(b)(6). When considering a motion to dismiss under Rule
12(b)(6), "the court should accept as true all
well-pleaded allegations and should view the complaint in a
light most favorable to the plaintiff." Mylan Labs.,
Inc. v. Matkari, 7 F.3d 1130, 1134 (4th Cir. 1993). A
complaint must state a claim for relief that is facially
plausible. Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S.
544, 570 (2007). Facial plausibility means that the court can
"draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is
liable for the misconduct alleged," as merely reciting
the elements of a cause of action with the support of
conclusory statements does not suffice. Iqbal, 556
U.S. at 678. The Court need not accept the plaintiffs legal
conclusions drawn from the facts, nor need it accept
unwarranted inferences, unreasonable conclusions, or
arguments. Philips v. Pitt County Mem. Hosp., 572
F.3d 176, 180 (4th Cir. 2009).
considering a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, a court may consider
documents attached to the complaint, as well as those
attached to the motion to dismiss so long as they are
integral to the complaint and authentic. Fed.R.Civ.P. 10(c);
Philips, 572 F.3d at 180. In the event of a conflict
between the allegations in the complaint and an incorporated
external document, the external document controls. See,
e.g., Fayetteville Inv 'rs v. Commercial
Builders, Inc., 936 F.2d 1462, 1465 (4th Cir. 1991)
("[I]n the event of conflict between the bare
allegations of the complaint and any exhibit... the exhibit
prevails."); Danger field v. WAVY Broad, LLC,
228 F.Supp.3d 696, 703 (E.D. Va. 2017) ("[W]hen an
external document that is incorporated into the complaint
conflicts with Plaintiffs allegations, the external document
argues that plaintiffs ADA claims must be dismissed because
the "reasonable accommodation" that plaintiff
requests is an indefinite leave of absence and, as a matter
of law, indefinite leave does not constitute a reasonable
accommodation under the ADA. Plaintiff specifically requests
"the reasonable accommodation of unpaid leave beyond her
FMLA medical leave entitlement," and contends that the
"reasonableness of additional unpaid leave as an
accommodation is further ...