from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Jeffrey D.
Remmick appeals the district court's grant of summary
judgment to the defendants on her claims of disability
discrimination, hostile work environment, and retaliation.
Zwagerman and Beatriz Mate-Kodjo of Newkirk Zwagerman,
P.L.C., Des Moines, for appellant.
Michael A. Dee and Megan Erickson Moritz of Brown, Winick,
Graves, Gross, Baskerville & Schoenebaum, P.L.C., Des
Moines, for appellees.
by Tabor, P.J., and Mahan, S.J., [*] and Scott, S.J.
Remmick, a former employee of Magellan Health, Inc., filed
suit against Magellan and her former supervisor, Julie Carlson,
raising claims under the Iowa Civil Rights Act (ICRA) based
on Remmick's mental health disability. The district court
granted summary judgment in favor of the defendants, finding
no genuine dispute of material fact on her claims of
disability discrimination, hostile work environment, and
retaliation. Remmick now appeals. Finding no error, we affirm
the court's grant of summary judgment.
Facts and Prior Proceedings
start with an overview of the facts from the summary judgment
record, taken in the light most favorable to Remmick, the
nonmoving party. See Roll v. Newhall, 888 N.W.2d
422, 425 (Iowa 2016). At the age of sixteen, Remmick was
diagnosed with depression. Her current diagnoses include
recurrent, severe major depressive disorder and generalized
anxiety disorder. Remmick managed her illness, did "all
the daily living tasks that people do, " graduated from
college and graduate school, married, had two children, and
worked as a social worker. Remmick used medications to treat
her illnesses. When her medications became less effective,
they were adjusted-known as a "med wash."
October 2001, Remmick began working for Magellan; she helped
Iowa adults and children on Medicaid find mental health
professionals, hospitalization, and treatment programs. She
was promoted from regular case manager to intensive case
manager (ICM) in August 2008. Remmick described her ICM job
duties as "extremely more difficult" than the
duties of a regular case manager: "We were working with
the sickest of the sick population, the homeless, the
extremely, extremely mentally ill, children in PMIC
situations, which are psychiatric mental institutes for
2010, Carlson became Remmick's supervisor, and Remmick
told Carlson she struggled with mental health issues. Carlson
thought Remmick was a good employee and assigned her to train
new staff; Carlson "was impressed by how [Remmick]
worked with members and advocated for them." According
to Carlson, Remmick received quarterly bonuses most of the
In the fall of 2012, Remmick's depression flared, and she
told Carlson about her suicidal ideation. A few weeks later,
Remmick told Carlson her doctor wanted her to take medical
leave for treatments. Magellan accommodated her October
request for leave, and Remmick returned to work on December
Upon Remmick's return to work, she believed her
co-workers were dismissive and cold to her. She observed they
no longer talked or lunched with her. Remmick felt isolated.
Remmick told Carlson she thought her co-workers were treating
her differently than they had treated another co-worker who
had needed personal leave-"[t]hey sent [the co-worker]
care packages and cards, but they didn't send [Remmick]
anything when she had been on leave." In response,
Carlson told Remmick: "They know that she's getting
cancer treatments. [She] is openly sharing her illness.
It's easy to support someone when you know exactly
what's going on and you know how to support
someone." Carlson found it hard to respond to
Remmick's complaint because Carlson believed
Remmick's co-employees had called and sent flowers.
Although Remmick testified the atmosphere at work upon her
return from this leave made her illness worse, she did not
contact human resources or ask Carlson to take any action.
According to Remmick, she again spoke to Carlson in June 2013
about her worsening depression and health. According to
Carlson, in June or July 2013, Remmick explained she would be
doing a special therapy over her lunch period, and Carlson
knew Remmick had an intermittent FMLA leave set up for the
therapy. At the end of July 2013, Remmick's therapist
noted the new therapy had worsened Remmick's condition.
2013 Medical Leave.
Approximately August 2, Remmick received a bonus for her work
production. Remmick was voluntarily hospitalized for one
night on Sunday, August 4, for suicidal ideation. Remmick
stated she had been having increased anxiety over the last
month, was nauseous, and was not eating well. She also told
hospital employees there was not a precipitating factor
causing her feelings. The hospital's doctor changed her
medications and discussed disability benefits with her.
tearfully talked to Carlson on Friday, August 9,
"brainstorming options." Remmick told Carlson she
did not think she could do her job anymore, she was
overwhelmed and stressed, and she wished she had taken the
position another employee had just filled. Remmick
acknowledged: "[I]t's really not an option now
because that position's full." Carlson remembers
saying, "I've noticed . . . you're struggling
and that you're just not advocating for your clients like
you did a year ago." When Remmick became defensive,
Carlson recalled telling Remmick her job was not in jeopardy.
Remmick's regular morning appointment with her
psychiatrist on Monday, August 12, she stated she felt only a
little better than when she was hospitalized. Her doctor
She feels she does not function as well at work. Her boss
pulled her aside and had a conversation with her about her
lack of energy and ambition and caring for the clients the
way she had previously. Nonetheless, this was not a work
reprimand, it was not a written letter, and her boss assured
her that she should not be worried about termination.
doctor took Remmick off work "for the time being"
for a med wash and to wait for the new medicine regime to
work, planning to see her the next week. Remmick returned to
work and had an emotional talk with Carlson about taking
another leave. According to Carlson, Remmick was crying and
shaking. Remmick told Carlson she was not eating or sleeping
and was overwhelmed. Remmick talked about how important her
job was to her and her concern her co-workers would be even
more hostile to her if she took another leave when the team
was already "short-staffed." Remmick recalled
"it was a condition of me getting out the door that
day" "that I would need to stand before my
co-workers and share my illness."
brought the first two co-workers into a private office to
talk with Remmick. Carlson stayed for that emotional
conversation while Remmick shared the details of her struggle
with mental illness and her need for medical leave. Remmick
recalls she was crying and one co-worker in the first meeting
asked her very "prying" questions. The other
co-worker gave Remmick a hug. Carlson brought in the other
two co-workers and then left for a personal training
appointment. Remmick again shared her illness with her
co-workers. The co-worker who worked Polk County with Remmick
immediately became angry and yelled at Remmick, stating
Remmick's medical leaves were her causing stress. After
these emotional conversations, Remmick left on leave. Remmick
was humiliated by being forced to disclose her private
medical information to her co-workers. Carlson admitted
Remmick's medical leave was not any business of
Remmick's team members under Magellan's policy.
Remmick knew "her work would have to be reassigned while
she was on leave, " Carlson opted to assign Remmick to a
new territory upon her return to work. In a phone call with
Carlson, Remmick learned of Carlson's decision. Remmick
believed working a new territory "would be like the
start of a whole new job."
2013-Notify Management and Management
On September 3, Remmick met with her therapist, whose notes
state her psychiatrist would release her to work. The
therapist's notes also discussed Remmick's
[Remmick] spoke to [her] lawyer this morning, she needs to
return to work on Friday, letter will be sent to workplace .
. . . If she doesn't and she uses up all her FMLA, she is
at risk of being fired . . . . Went over what she can say if
asked to meet with supervisor and bosses-what they need to
know is in FMLA paperwork . . . . Additional concerns at
work: . . . co-worker who is judgmental-she can look from her
to [family pictures], can pray for her. . . . .
Additional Notes Regarding Goals and Objectives: Focused
primarily on ...