United States District Court, D. Rhode Island
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
WILLIAM E. SMITH CHIEF JUDGE.
twenty-five years working as an ink-technician at Admiral
Packaging, Inc. (“Admiral”), Plaintiff Joaquim
Darosa was terminated in June of 2014 for losing his temper
during a disagreement with a colleague. Although Darosa
admits he lost his temper, he believes Admiral used the
incident as a convenient excuse to fire him and that he was
actually terminated because he suffers from ulcerative
colitis, for which he took an extended leave of absence in
2013 under the Family Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”),
29 U.S.C. § 2601 et seq. See generally Compl., ECF No.
August 4, 2016 Darosa filed a Complaint (ECF No. 1-2),
alleging, inter alia, claims for FMLA retaliation (Count I)
and disability discrimination (Count III) and seeking damages
for his allegedly wrongful termination. Admiral has
rebutted these allegations by arguing that Darosa was a
“problem employee” for years with an extensive
disciplinary history and that the June incident was simply
the straw that broke the camel's back. Defs.' Mot.
for Summ. J. (“Defs.' Mot.”) 1, ECF No. 19.
the Court is Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF
No. 19), to which Plaintiff has objected (ECF No. 24). For
the following reasons, the Court grants in part and denies in
part Defendants' Motion.
worked as an ink technician at Admiral Packaging from 1989
until June 17, 2014. In 2006, he was diagnosed with
ulcerative colitis, for which he took protected FMLA leave
three times: first in 2006 (fifteen weeks), then in 2012
(fourteen days), and again 2013 (forty days).
Darosa's 2013 FMLA Leave
2013, while Darosa was supposed to be out of work on FMLA
leave, a video surfaced showing Darosa performing on stage at
the Cape Verdean festival in Providence. After seeing the
video on YouTube.com and while he was still out on FMLA
leave, Darosa's supervisors at Admiral called Darosa to
ask why he was not at work, to offer him “light
duty” work, and to invite him to the company picnic at
McCoy Stadium. Pl.'s Statement of Undisputed Facts
(“Pl.'s SUF”) ¶¶ 29-30, ECF No.
24-2; Defs.' Statement of Undisputed Facts
(“Defs.' SUF”) ¶¶ 22-32, ECF No.
20. Darosa claims that his performance at the festival made
his supervisors “angry, ” though nothing in the
record suggests that his supervisors discussed the matter
with him when he returned to work or disciplined him for the
apparent abuse of leave. Pl.'s Mem. 12-13, 21; Defs.'
SUF Ex. A (“Darosa Dep.”) 15:18-25:4, ECF No.
Overtime Shifts at Admiral
his tenure at Admiral, Darosa worked first shift (7:00 a.m.
to 3:00 p.m.) and was occasionally asked to work overtime by
coming in early, around 4:00 a.m. He testified that early
shifts were hard for him because of his colitis and that he
expressed this difficulty to his supervisors. Darosa Dep.
61:13-62:3. However, it is unclear whether he informed his
supervisors that the reason these early shifts were hard for
him was because of his colitis, as opposed to the general
difficulty of waking up early and arriving at work on time.
Specifically, he testified as follows:
Q: . . . [W]hy don't you tell me what you think a hostile
work environment is?
A: Well, if I have colitis and I go to the bathroom all the
time, I have problems sleeping, and I'm losing weight, do
you think I should be going to work 4:00 in the morning, 5:00
in the morning?
Q: Okay. Did you ever ask your employer for a modified
A: I asked many times. The fact that it would be hard,
because one, I had to get my wife to get up to bring me, and
I had to ask another employee to pick me up. And I had told
them that it would be hard for me to make it in there on
time. Since my schedule is from 7:00 to 3:00, 4:00 and 5:00
would be difficult. But I was never given that opportunity to
stay home. It was more like a must.
Id. Darosa admits that he never asked to be
scheduled for Admiral's second shift, which occurred in
the afternoons, to avoid these early mornings. Id.
Bonuses, Raises, and Performance Evaluations at Admiral
Admiral provides several kinds of monetary incentives to its
employees, namely, a year-end bonus and an annual
raise. Both of these are awarded based, in part,
on the employee's annual performance evaluation. That
evaluation is completed by a supervisor and rates the
employee on a scale of 1 to 5 in the following categories:
attendance, attitude, work ethic, work knowledge,
productivity, assisting others, and overtime.
three ink technicians employed at Admiral in 2013, Darosa
received the lowest overall performance rating. His 2013
evaluation reads as follows:
Darosa: 2 for attendance, 2 for attitude, 2 for work ethic, 5
for work knowledge, 3 for productivity, 2 for assisting
others, and 2 for overtime.
SUF Ex. G (“Disciplinary History”) 60, ECF No.
20-7. Darosa's evaluation also included the comment
“Not motivated/needs supervising.” Id.