On February 5, 2021, the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware granted summary judgment in Snyder v. E.I. DuPont de Nemours, Inc. and Company, No. 18-1266, holding that DuPont did not terminate the employment of its employee, Peggy Snyder, in retaliation for her use of leave under the
Articles Discussing Retaliation Claims Under The FMLA.
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?
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.
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:
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.
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).
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.