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Skrynnikov v. Federal National Mortgage Association

United States District Court, District of Columbia

January 3, 2017



          Gladys Kessler United States District Judge.

         Plaintiff Timothy Skrynnikov ("Plaintiff" or "Skrynnikov") brings this action against Defendant Federal National Mortgage Association ("Defendant" or "Fannie Mae") alleging retaliation under the Federal False Claims Act ("FCA"), 31 U.S.C. § 3729 et seq., and interference with his rights under both the Federal Family and Medical Leave Act ("FMLA"), 29 U.S.C. § 2601 et seq., and the related District of Columbia Family and Medical Leave Act ("DCFMLA"), D.C. Code § 32-501 et seq.

         This matter is before the Court on Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment ("Mot.") [Dkt. No. 54] and Defendant's Cross-Motion for Summary Judgment ("Cross-Mot.") [Dkt. No. 55] . Upon consideration of the Motion, the Cross-Motion, Oppositions [Dkt. Nos. 55 and 57], and Replies [Dkt. Nos. 57 and 59], and the entire record herein, and for the reasons set forth below, Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment is denied, and Defendant's Cross-Motion for Summary Judgment is denied.

         I. BACKGOUND

         A. Factual Background

         Fannie Mae is a government-sponsored corporation chartered by Congress, with its headquarters in the District of Columbia. Second Amended Complaint § 5 ("SAC") [Dkt. No. 23] . Mr. Skrynnikov was employed by Fannie Mae as a Senior Financial Analyst in the Financial Planning & Analysts group ("FP&A") from October 9, 2007 until November 13, 2009, when his employment was terminated. SAC ¶¶ 6, 38. Mr. Skrynnikov's job responsibilities included preparing a monthly document known as the Business Segment Allocation Report ("BSA Report"). Plaintiff's Statement of Undisputed Material Facts ¶ 5 ("Pl's SMF") [Dkt. No. 54-1]. The BSA Reports included information on "Executive Incentive Compensation." Id. ¶ 7.

         On March 18, 2009, United States Senator Charles Grassley requested "Fannie Mae and Fredie Mac to account for their retention bonus programs" ("the Grassley Request"). Pl's Ex. 36 [Dkt. No. 54-8] . Fannie Mae submitted its response to Senator Grassley on March 27, 2009. Def.'s Ex. 87 [Dkt. No. 55-29]. At some point in March 2009, Mr. Skrynnikov learned of the Grassley Request and Fannie Mae's response through a daily news blast emailed to Fannie Mae employees. Arbitration Transcript at 134-35 ("Tr.") [Dkt. No. 54-3] .

         Mr. Skrynnikov alleges that he became concerned that the executive retention bonus data that Fannie Mae reported to Sen. Grassley did not match the numbers in the BSA Reports he had seen. Mot. at 2; Pl's SMF ¶ 12. He alleges that he raised these concerns with his supervisor at the time, Ms. Kristin DeMent Harrison. Id. He also claims that Ms. Harrison told him that the reported numbers would be updated in the next quarter. Id.

         Mr. Skrynnikov claims that he raised these concerns again with Ms. Harrison on April 28, 2009. Mot. at 3; Pl's SMF ¶ 14. According to Mr. Skrynnikov, Ms. Harrison responded to his concerns with "agitation and anger." Id. Defendant denies that these conversations between Ms. Harrison and Mr. Skrynnikov took place. Cross-Mot. at 14; Tr. at 571-72. Mr. Skrynnikov alleges that after he raised his concerns about the Grassley Request with Ms. Harrison, she began to question his job performance. Mot. at 3. Defendant disputes this assertion.

         On July 1, 2009, Ms. Harrison gave Mr. Skrynnikov a Written Warning for Unsatisfactory Job Performance informing him that Fannie Mae would terminate him if he did not improve within a reasonable time period. Pl's SMF ¶ 16.

         On July 9, 2009, Mr. Skrynnikov sought permission from Ms. Carrie Lee, Fannie Mae's Human Resources representative, to take medical leave because of the stress he claims stemmed from his poor working relationship with Ms. Harrison. Pl's SMF ¶ 19. Ms. Lee directed Mr. Skrynnikov to contact the Reed Group, an independent company contracted by Fannie Mae to administer medical leaves of absence. Id. ¶¶ 20-23.

         The Reed Group approved Mr. Skrynnikov's application for FMLA/DCFMLA leave. Id. ¶ 29. The Parties disagree on the original date until which Mr. Skrynnikov was originally granted leave. Nevertheless, after what appears to be extensive communication between Mr. Skrynnikov, his doctors, the Reed Group, and Fannie Mae's HR team, Mr. Skrynnikov was granted an extension of his FMLA leave through October 1, 2009, which represents the full twelve weeks permitted under the statute. Pl's SMF ¶ 29; Def.'s Resp. to Pl's SMF ¶ 29 [Dkt. No. 55-30].

         Mr. Skrynnikov asserts that the communication between Fannie Mae and the Reed Group regarding the paperwork supporting his leave differed from Fannie Mae's normal practices regarding its involvement in the Reed Group's approval of employee leave. Mot. at 5-8. Defendant denies these allegations.

         On October 26, after receiving additional paperwork from Mr. Skrynnikov's doctors justifying an extension of his leave, the Reed Group retroactively approved an extension of his leave under the DCFMLA which permits a maximum of 16 weeks leave, and Fannie Mae's short-term disability leave (STD), which is not protected leave. Cross-Mot. at 1; Pl's SMF ¶ 29; Def.'s Resp. to Pl's SMF ¶ 29.

         Mr. Skrynnikov claims that he was ready and able to return to work after recovering from his depression and stress on October 26, 2009. Pl's Opp. at 12-13, n. 12. However, on October 21, 2009, he wrote to Ms. Lee requesting to use vacation time for up to a week because of a newly sustained rib injury. Pl's. SMF ¶ 4 0; Pl's Ex. 68 [Dkt. No. 54-22]. Ms. Lee informed Mr. Skrynnikov that he would have to speak to management and the Reed Group regarding his request. Pl's SMF ¶ 43. Ms. Lee also stated that he could not return to work "unless [he was] cleared to return to work for both conditions" by the Reed Group. Id.

         The approved return-to-work date of October 26, 2009 came and went without Mr. Skrynnikov providing the Reed Group with a new return-to-work clearance from a doctor. He did not return to work on that date. Pl's SMF ¶48. Fannie Mae instructed the Reed Group to place "the highest level of scrutiny" on Mr. Skrynnikov's return-to-work certification regarding his rib injury. Pl's SMF ¶ 50; Def. Resp. to Pl's SMF ¶ 50. On October 30, 2009, Mr. Skrynnikov finally sent the Reed Group a return-to-work certification from a doctor indicating that he would be ready to return to work on November 2, 2009. Pl's SMF ¶¶ 52, 54; Def. Resp. to Pl's SMF ¶¶ 52, 54. That same day, Mr. Skrynnikov was retroactively approved for DCFMLA leave through October 29, 2009 and for STD through November 1, 2009, with a return to work date of November 2, 2009. Pl's SMF ¶ 55; Def. Resp. to Pl's SMF ¶ 55; Pl's Ex. 74 [Dkt. No. 54-24].

         On October 30, 2009, Mr. Skrynnikov received a letter from Fannie Mae saying that he had exhausted his FMLA and DCFMLA leave and that Fannie Mae made a business decision not to hold his position open. Pl's SMF ¶ 58; Def. Resp. to Pl's SMF ¶ 58. Mr. Skrynnikov was terminated a few days later when his STD leave expired.

         On November 15, 2009, Mr. Skrynnikov faxed a letter to Sen. Grassley detailing his concerns regarding Fannie Mae's reporting of executive incentive compensation. Pl's SMF ¶ 60; Pl's Ex. 61 [Dkt. No. 54-18].

         B. Procedural Background

         Mr. Skrynnikov filed his Complaint with this Court on March 23, 2011. [Dkt. No. 1]. On June 12, 2012, Mr. Skrynnikov filed his First Amended Complaint. [Dkt. No. 21]. On October 11, 2012, Mr. Skrynnikov filed a Motion to Amend his Complaint [Dkt. No. 22], which the Court granted by Minute Order on October 15, 2012. On October 15, 2012, Mr. Skrynnikov filed his Second Amended Complaint, which is the operative Complaint in these proceedings.

         On December 6, 2012, Defendant filed a Motion to Dismiss and to Compel Arbitration. [Dkt. No. 26]. On May 8, 2013, the Court denied Defendant's Motion to Dismiss without prejudice, but granted Defendant's Motion to Compel Arbitration and stayed the case pending the results of arbitration. May 8, 2013 Order [Dkt. No. 31] .

         On November 4, 2014, the Arbitrator issued a final award finding that Mr. Skrynnikov failed to prove the claims of both Count 1 (Retaliation under the False Claims Act) and Count 2 (Family and Medical Leave Interference). November 24, 2014 Joint Status Report at 1 [Dkt. No. 48] . On November 13, 2014, Mr. Skrynnikov rejected the ...

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