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Michael Chittick Wins Summary Judgment on behalf of Cox Communications, Inc.

Michael Chittick won summary judgment on behalf of Cox Communications, Inc. and affiliated Cox entities in U.S. District Court for the District of Rhode Island. The case is Patricia J. Reilly v. Cox Enterprises, Inc., et al., C.A. No. 13-785-S.  In a decision rendered on March 1, 2016, Chief Judge William E. Smith ruled in favor of the Cox defendants on all of the plaintiff’s claims. The plaintiff, who had been a highly compensated management-level employee of Cox, sued the Cox entities and two former supervisors following her termination of employment. Reilly asserted several theories of recovery against Cox, including “interference” and “retaliation” under the Family Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”), and alleged gender and disability discrimination under the Rhode Island Civil Rights Act (“RICRA”) and the Rhode Island Fair Employment Practices Act (“FEPA”). Cox successfully argued that it had lawfully discharged Reilly for misconduct. Judge Smith denied Reilly’s FMLA claims, holding that the temporal proximity between the plaintiff’s discharge and her conversation with a supervisor about upcoming surgery was insufficient to rebut the legitimacy of Cox’s stated reason for her discharge. Similarly, Judge Smith denied Reilly’s discrimination claims under RICRA and FEPA, ruling that Reilly’s self-serving hearsay testimony was insufficient evidence of pretext to rebut the stated, legitimate reason for her termination.

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