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Erickson v. AMN Healthcare Services

June 25, 2010


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Honorable Barry Ted Moskowitz United States District Judge


Defendant AMN Healthcare Services, Inc. ("AMN") has filed a motion for summary judgment [Doc. 23]. Plaintiff has not filed an opposition. For the following reasons, the Court GRANTS the motion and DISMISSES this suit in its entirety.


This is an employment discrimination case. AMN Healthcare terminated Plaintiff in November 2007. Plaintiff alleges AMN fired her because she took maternity leave, and because of her age and sex. She also claims wrongful termination and breach of implied contract.

The factual record consists only of Defendant's submission as Plaintiff has not responded.*fn2

Plaintiff is thirty-three years old. She started working at AMN as a billing specialist and held a variety of positions after that. Her positions were all generally related to billing and accounting, though she later also became a team lead, which added some supervisory responsibilities. When AMN fired her in November 2007, her job title was Client Accounting Representative, Team Lead.

Plaintiff has taken two maternity leaves. She took the first in 2003 and was gone for about five months. She admits she was not treated any differently when she returned from her first maternity leave. She took the second in 2007. That one was also about five months; she left in mid-February and returned on July 27, 2007. It was when she returned, she alleges, that her difficulties at work began.

Plaintiff returned to the same position she had left and reported to the same supervisor: Bill Collins. But a woman named Andre Meyers-Renfro replaced Collins as Plaintiff's supervisor in August 2007. Plaintiff had applied for that same supervisory position during her maternity leave but Meyers-Renfro got the job instead.

Meyers-Renfro had concerns about Plaintiff's attitude and leadership style. Meyers-Renfro's supervisor, Jeanne Beirich, also shared her concerns. On October 4, 2007, Meyers-Renfro counseled Plaintiff about negative comments Plaintiff made about a fellow team lead.

After that meeting, Meyers-Renfro and Beirich met with Plaintiff on October 16, 2007 to discuss work goals related to a new incentive-based compensation scheme for accounting employees like Plaintiff. According to Beirich, during that meeting Plaintiff was extremely confrontational, insubordinate, and unprofessional. She suggested that her team could make it so difficult for Meyers-Renfro and Beirich that the team could force them out. Beirich considered firing her based on her behavior in that meeting alone.

But after consulting with the human resources department, Beirich and others decided to give Plaintiff a Performance Improvement Plan ("PIP"). Plaintiff and Meyers-Renfro signed the PIP on October 19, 2007. The PIP outlined what happened at the October 16 meeting and the incident where she made negative comments about another team lead. The PIP warned Plaintiff that if she did not immediately improve her job performance, AMN would take "further corrective action up to and including immediate termination."

Plaintiff wrote a seven-page response to the PIP, which Beirich believed mischaracterized what happened at the October 16 meeting.

Plaintiff's behavior did not improve, and one last incident caused Defendant to terminate her employment. Plaintiff four times called another team lead, Deanna Muhlhun, outside of work hours, asking about a confidential meeting Muhlhun had with human resources. Muhlhun was upset and she complained about Plaintiff's behavior, and three managers had to help resolve the conflict. After consulting with human resources, Beirich decided to terminate Plaintiff.

At the time Defendant terminated Plaintiff, eighteen of twenty-three employees in the accounting department were women. In 2008, 73% of the people in the entire office were women, and five of ten members of the executive committee were women, including the CEO and general counsel. Women regularly take maternity leave; it is the most common reason for a leave of absence. Defendant regularly authorizes maternity leaves of absence longer than the legally required three-month period. Defendant even has lactation rooms for ...

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