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Ames v. Nationwide Mutual Insurance Co.
United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit
747 F.3d 509 (2014)
Angela Ames (plaintiff) worked as a loss-mitigation specialist at Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company (Nationwide) (defendant). After discovering that Nationwide miscalculated Ames’s Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) maternity leave, Karla Neel, Ames’s department head, informed Ames that Ames could have an additional paid week of leave and that then she could take several weeks of unpaid leave until the initially scheduled date but cautioned that taking unpaid leave might cause problems. Before Ames returned to work, a disability case manager told Ames that she could use a lactation room to pump milk every few hours. The morning of Ames’s return, Neel told Ames that it was not Neel’s responsibility to provide lactation-room access. Nationwide’s nurse, Sara Hallberg, later informed Ames that mandatory lactation-room-access paperwork required three days to be processed. Although this policy was available on Nationwide’s intranet and at quarterly maternity meetings, Ames was unaware of it until she spoke with Hallberg. Hallberg tried to expedite Ames’s access and suggested that in the meantime Ames could use a wellness room when one became available, but Hallberg cautioned that it might expose her breast milk to germs. Ames’s direct supervisor, Brian Brinks, told Ames that none of Ames’s work had been completed while she was out and if she did not catch up within two weeks, she would be disciplined. Ames then returned to Neel to ask for help finding a place to lactate, and Neel again refused to help. Noticing that Ames was near tears, Neel handed Ames paper and a pen and told Ames, “I think it’s best that you go home to be with your babies,” and told Ames what to write to resign. Ames sued Nationwide, alleging sex and pregnancy discrimination and arguing that Nationwide constructively terminated her through its inability to provide a lactation room and unrealistic expectations about her work production. The district court granted Nationwide’s summary-judgment motion, and Ames appealed.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Wollman, J.)
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