United States District Court, S.D. Georgia, Waycross Division
GODBEY WOOD, CHIEF JUDGE
a negative reference, with no details and no reason other
than retaliation, can be an adverse employment action. Thus,
Defendants Brantley County Board of Commissioners and Linda
Murrell's motion to dismiss Plaintiff Brittany Ammons
("Ammons") Family and Medical Leave Act
PFMLA") claim will be DENIED.
purpose of considering this motion, the Court assumes the
truth of the facts alleged in Plaintiff Brittany Ammons'
("Ammons") complaint. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). It
also considers facts alleged in Ammons' complaint in an
earlier case, because she attached it, refers to it, it is
central to her claim, and its authenticity is not in dispute.
See Graveling v. Castle Mortg. Co., 631 F.App'x
690, 693 (11th Cir. 2015) (per curiam) (citing Horsley v.
Feldt, 304 F.3d 1125, 1134 (11th Cir. 2002)).
Fired Ammons after She Made FMLA Requests
worked for Defendant Brantley County Board of Commissioners
as a 911 dispatcher for nearly seven years, until December
19, 2012. Dkt. No. 14 ¶ 7. Defendant Murrell supervised
her. Id. ¶ 6. Ammons was an excellent employee.
Id. ¶¶ 41-45. She was granted FMLA leave
for June 6-8, 2012, to care for her husband, Daniel. Dkt. No.
14-1 ¶¶ 16-17, 33-37. Daniel, a Brantley County
sheriff's deputy, needed major surgery due to a bad auto
accident. Id. ¶¶ 27, 29. His surgeon
rescheduled to June 8, 2012 while Daniel and Ammons were
headed to Savannah on June 4, 2012. Id. ¶ 35.
Three days after the surgery, Ammons went back to work.
Murrell had suspended her without pay. Id. ¶
39. Ammons requested FMLA leave for June 12, 2012, but this
was denied, leaving Daniel with no caregiver. Id.
¶¶ 41-43. That day, "the metal plate which had
been inserted in his chest sprung loose, causing him
excruciating pain, " and he later needed two more
surgeries. Id. ¶¶ 44-45. Ammons did not
seek FMLA leave to care for Daniel following these because
she had been suspended for doing so before. Id.
¶¶ 4 6-47.
appealed the suspension. Id. ¶ 49. The appeal
was settled around September 2012. Id. ¶¶
50-51. Two months later, on December 5, 2012, Murrell moved
Ammons to day shift, even though Ammons had said this would
interfere with childcare duties. Id. ¶¶
59-60. The next day, Murrell had Ammons investigated for a
security violation. Id. ¶ 53. Ammons was
cleared of wrongdoing on July 5, 2013. Id. ¶
55. But she had already been fired on December 19, 2012.
Id. ¶ 62.
Gives Negative Job References
sued under FMLA in September 2013. Dkt. No. 14 ¶ 16. The
case settled on October 9, 2014. Id. ¶ 18.
Under the settlement contract, Defendants agreed to give
Ammons a favorable job reference by October 16, 2014, and to
"take no action which was intended, or would reasonably
be expected, to harm or damage the reputation of
[Ammons]." Id. ¶¶ 27-28. At the
mediation's end, Murrell asked whether she "had
to" shake Ammons' hand, then declined to do so.
Id. ¶¶ 22-23.
started looking for a job in October 2014, applying for two
or three positions weekly (except in January 2016). IcL
¶¶ 30-31. She has only received one callback.
Id. ¶ 32. In early 2015, two people told Ammons
that when they called Murrell, she "stated emphatically
that she would not hire [Ammons], nor . . . recommend her for
employment." Id. ¶ 35. Ammons had a
reference-check company make an inquiry. Id. ¶
36. Murrell told it she would "[a]bsolutely not!"
recommend Ammons. Id. ¶ 37; Dkt. No. 14-2 at 2.
Ammons alleges Murrell "has supplied similar, or worse,
negative employment references to other employers." Dkt.
No. 14 ¶ 39.
Brings the Present Suit and Defendants Move to
filed the present suit on September 8, 2016. Dkt. No. 1. She
alleges retaliation under FMLA and breach of contract. Dkt.
No. 14 ¶¶ 55-75. Defendants moved to dismiss,
claiming Ammons failed to plead an adverse employment action.
Dkt. No. 15 at 2. Ammons responded. Dkt. No. 20. Defendants
did not reply. Their motion is ripe for disposition.