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Burciaga v. Ravago Americas LLC

United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit

July 2, 2015

Elizabeth Burciaga, Plaintiff - Appellant
v.
Ravago Americas LLC, Defendant - Appellee

Submitted: April 14, 2015.

Page 931

Appeal from United States District Court for the Southern District of Iowa - Des Moines.

For Elizabeth Burciaga, Plaintiff - Appellant: Andrew L. LeGrant, Legrant Law Firm, Urbandale, IA.

For Ravago Americas LLC, Defendant - Appellee: Christopher Earl Hoyme, Kenneth Michael Wentz III, Jackson & Lewis, Omaha, NE.

Before BYE, BEAM, and SMITH, Circuit Judges.

OPINION

Page 932

BYE, Circuit Judge.

Elizabeth Burciaga sued her employer, Ravago Americas LLC (Ravago), alleging Ravago violated her rights under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), 29 U.S.C. § § 2601-2654. The district court[1] granted summary judgment in favor of Ravago, and Burciaga appeals. We affirm.

I

Burciaga began working at one of Ravago's unit branches in August 2007 as a customer service representative (CSR). The unit branch was responsible for distributing plastic and rubber resin, and as a CSR, Burciaga's tasks included contacting sales representatives and customers, receiving and processing orders, scheduling shipments, and resolving customer issues. For the duration of Burciaga's employment with Ravago, Jeremy Howe, a customer service manager, served as her supervisor.

Prior to the FMLA leave at issue in this case, Burciaga utilized FMLA leave during her employment with Ravago on two separate occasions, in 2008 and late 2010 through early 2011, for the births of her children. Burciaga did not inform Howe this leave was taken pursuant to the FMLA and was unaware whether Howe knew she was taking FMLA leave. Ravago's Director of Human Resources Donna Comey indicated, however, her general practice is to inform an employee's local management team when the employee takes FMLA leave. Howe described a general lack of knowledge about FMLA leave and explained his concern when Burciaga was absent from work was only that her desk was covered by another employee. Burciaga remained employed and received annual raises after each of these occasions taking FMLA leave.

After Burciaga returned to work in 2011, she had several performance-related issues. In May 2011, Burciaga took a lunch break which Howe considered longer than a normal lunch break without notifying Howe. Howe began keeping notes about Burciaga after this occurrence. Howe could not recall taking notes about other CSRs after they had taken longer than normal lunch breaks, but he did express that he took notes about other CSRs. Later, Burciaga made a shipping error by shipping an order which she had already shipped under a different purchase order. Howe met with Burciaga about the error and warned her about errors she had recently been making, including one from the prior week. Howe explained to Burciaga to take her time and enter orders correctly because if the errors continued, she may be terminated.

Burciaga next requested FMLA paperwork on or about July 27, 2012, for intermittent leave to care for her son. Ravago's human resources department processed Burciaga's ...


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