Gloria A. Bunch Plaintiff- Appellant
University of Arkansas Board of Trustees Defendant-Appellee
Submitted: January 11, 2017
from United States District Court for the Eastern District of
Arkansas - Little Rock
RILEY,  Chief Judge, LOKEN and BENTON,
Bunch appeals the grant of summary judgment to her former
employer in her lawsuit alleging discrimination and
retaliation leading to wrongful termination.
affirm the judgment of the district court. See 28
U.S.C. § 1291 (appellate jurisdiction).
early June 2010, Gloria Bunch, an African-American woman, was
hired by the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences as a
program eligibility specialist for STRIVE (an acronym for
Seeking to Reinforce My Identity and Values Everyday), a
community outreach program that provides outpatient therapy
for students in the Little Rock, Arkansas, school system. All
new employees are subject to a 90-day probation period. In
late August, before the end of her 90-day period, Bunch
received a performance review conducted by her supervisor.
Bunch earned satisfactory remarks in all categories except
the category of cooperation. Bunch was informed her probation
period would be extended until late November. Bunch refused
to sign her performance review.
after the review, Bunch met with a human resources
administrator and asked to file a grievance of discrimination
and retaliation because she was being harassed and taunted by
her coworkers. Bunch also met with STRIVE's director,
Paula McCarther. Bunch complained to McCarther about her
coworkers, supervisor, and performance review. Bunch also
told McCarther she suffered from disabilities and discussed
requesting time off to attend a doctor's
appointment. McCarther explained to Bunch the leave
policy requires employees requesting leave to do so two weeks
in advance, or, if calling in sick, to call their supervisor
by 7:00 a.m. on the day of the absence.
August 30, 2010, Bunch emailed McCarther stating she was
making her "formal request for the Reasonable
Accommodation to attend medical appointments." The next
morning (four minutes before 7:00 a.m.) Bunch emailed
McCarther, her supervisor, and others, "to report [she
was] calling in sick on [sic] today." Later that day,
she emailed the same group:
My Doctor is requesting for me to be off work for the next
two weeks as a Reasonable Accommodation Request and is
completing the FMLA Paperwork. I will submit the form upon
his completion ASAP. Thank you in advance for your
doctor submitted paperwork for unpaid leave under the Family
and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), see 29 U.S.C.
§§ 2601-2654, on September 1, 2010. According to
the paperwork, Bunch needed to be out of work for two weeks
due to a "flare up" in her fibromyalgia syndrome,
which left her unable to work "in any capacity."
September 2, 2010, McCarther left a voicemail for and emailed
Bunch to inform her she did not qualify for FMLA leave
because she had not been employed for one year and had not
worked the requisite number of hours. See id. §
2611(2)(A) (defining eligibility). Bunch filed a charge with
the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
(EEOC), alleging discrimination based on race, sex, age, and
disability, and also retaliation. One week later, Bunch
received a letter from McCarther notifying Bunch her
employment was terminated. The ...