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Total Articles: 13

Second Circuit Lowers Bar for Causation in FMLA Retaliation Claims

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit recently ruled that to advance a viable claim for retaliation under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), an employee need only demonstrate that exercising his or her rights under the FMLA, such as taking protected leave, was viewed as a negative factor by the employer in connection with an adverse employment action. This so-called “motivating factor” or “mixed-motive” standard is a lower burden of proof than the “but for” standard often applied to retaliation claims. A lower burden of proof will likely result in an increase in the number of FMLA retaliation claims that will survive summary judgment in Connecticut, New York, and Vermont, the states where the Second Circuit exercises federal appellate jurisdiction.

Third Circuit: No Direct Evidence Needed for Mixed-Motive Jury Instruction in FMLA Retaliation Cases

A former employee alleges that he was terminated because he exercised his right to take intermittent leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act. His former employer asserts that his FMLA leave had nothing to do with his termination. Rather, the employer claims, he was let go simply because his position was eliminated. At trial, the employee fails to present any direct evidence that his use of FMLA leave was a motivating factor for his termination. Is the employer in the clear?

Does Calling Someone an “Injury Compensation Specialist” Prove FMLA Retaliation?

Perhaps not, according to the First Circuit Court of Appeals. Not all retaliation is the same, the court reminds us in its December 14, 2016 decision in Chase v. U.S. Postal Service. Evidence that a supervisor retaliated because of an employee’s workers’ compensation claim does not itself prove the supervisor also retaliated because the employee took concurrent leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Mocking an employee’s allegedly fake injury does not necessarily show hostility toward use of FMLA leave.

Bad Timing: Can an Employer Terminate an Employee Shortly After Requesting FMLA Leave?

As a labor and employment attorney, I spend a significant amount of time counseling employers as they prepare to terminate an employee. Often enough, the situation goes something like this:

Temporal proximity between FMLA leave and firing does not always lead to successful legal claim.

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) continues to create administrative challenges for employers. One particular issue of concern is the discipline and or termination of an employee who has requested or is on FMLA leave. The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals recently upheld the dismissal of an individual’s interference and retaliation claims in an unpublished opinion that serves as an outline for analyzing FMLA claims under such circumstances. Brown v. ScriptPro, LLC, 10th Cir, No. 11-3293, November 27, 2012.

Employer’s Mistaken Allowance Of FMLA Leave Can Create Liability For Retaliation

In order to be granted a leave of absence under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), an employee first must fulfill certain eligibility requirements, including having worked for the employer for at least 12 months, and having worked for at least 1250 hours within the prior calendar year. Individuals who do not reach those initial thresholds typically do not qualify for FMLA leave. However, on July 17, 2012, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania denied a motion to dismiss the claim of a county nursing assistant who was fired because she took FMLA leave to care for her son, finding that the employer was estopped from arguing that the FMLA discrimination claim should be dismissed based on ineligibility under the leave law, because county officials had led the plaintiff to believe that she was qualified to take such leave. Medley v. Montgomery County, EDPA, No. 2:12-cv-01995, July 17, 2012.

Supervisor's Inadvisable Email Creates Basis for FMLA Claim

File this in your "Don't Do This When Conducting a RIF" folder. As highlighted by the folks at the Atlanta Employment Lawyer Blog, employers should be wary of eliminating the position of an employee who announces days earlier that he will need several weeks off for surgery. When the evidence shows that this employee was not targeted for the layoff before he requested FMLA leave, but only after, it may well be enough to allow him to present his claims to a jury.

Supervisor's ill-considered e-mail forms the basis of an FMLA lawsuit.

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) prohibits employers from interfering with an employee’s right to take leave for which that employee is eligible under the Act. Recently, the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the dismissal of an employee’s FMLA lawsuit, and sent the case back to the lower court for further proceedings.

Happy Father's Day: Dad Claims He Was Terminated After Taking FMLA Leave for Bonding with Newborn Child

As a father of three, I tend to take interest in "feel good" stories about working parents. However, in a recent ABA Journal article, an article about a working dad caught my attention for a far different reason. The article highlighted Ariel Ayanna, who recently filed suit against his employer claiming he was terminated after taking FMLA leave following the birth of his son. Ayanna v. Dechert LLP (pdf).

Scared of Liability for FMLA Retaliation? Beware of Bingo Workers!

Employers increasingly are finding federal courts to be receptive forums for the consideration of an employee’s retaliation claim. In Burlington Northern v. White, for instance, the Supreme Court held that an employer can retaliate within the meaning of Title VII with actions short of terminations and other ultimate employment actions. Last year, in Crawford v. Metro Government of Nashville, the Court ruled that an employee who was terminated after she answered questions during an employer’s internal investigation was protected under the anti-retaliatory provisions of Title VII.

Termination for Poor Performance Discussed Prior to FMLA Leave Does Not Support Retaliation Claim.

The Family and Medical Leave Act prohibits employers from discriminating against employees who have taken leave under that Act. However, the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has affirmed summary judgment in favor of an employer who terminated an individual for excessive absenteeism and performance issues that developed prior to that employee’s request for FMLA leave, even though her termination occurred during that protected leave.

FMLA Allows An Employer To Base Termination On Performance Problems Discovered During An Employee’s Leave.

The Family and Medical Leave Act allows individuals to take unpaid leave from work and requires that in most cases, such individuals be returned to their prior position or an equivalent one upon return from the leave. The 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has clarified that requirement, and has held that when an employer discovers information during an employee’s FMLA leave that would otherwise form the basis of a valid termination, the FMLA does not act as a bar to such adverse employment action.

FMLA Does Not Support Retaliation Claims By Employee Who Did Not Actively Participate In Spouse's Previous FMLA Lawsuit.

The Family and Medical Leave Act allows employees to take reasonable leave for certain reasons spelled out in that Act. The FMLA includes prescriptive provisions – which create a series of substantive rights, consisting primarily of 12 weeks of unpaid leave – along with proscriptive provisions, which bar employers from penalizing employees and other individuals from exercising rights granted under the FMLA. The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals recently addressed the issue of whether the anti-retaliation provisions of the FMLA automatically protect the co-worker/spouse of an employee from retaliation, and held that it does not.
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