Recently, in June of 2010, the United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio heard a case regarding the FMLA and the issue of the employer’s request for time off policy. (See Coffman v. Ford Motor Co., 2010 WL 2465376 (S.D.Ohio)).
The Plaintiff in this case was part of a union within Defendant’s company. Pursuant to the collective bargaining agreement, Plaintiff had certain procedures to follow if she wanted to take time off and have it considered FMLA leave. One of the things the employee had to do was have her physician fill out a medical certification form. Id. In this company, they had a policy where after the fourth awol occurrence you were disciplined up until the tenth awol occurrence at which point you were automatically terminated. Id. The Plaintiff in this case was fired on July 25, 2005. Id. Plaintiff with her FMLA lawyer initiated her FMLA lawsuit against the Defendant on July 23, 2008. Id. (If you are a recently fired employee and think you were entitled to FMLA leave, and it is still within 2 years (3 if the actions were willful against you), then you should contact Louisville FMLA lawyer Andrew S. Alitowski right away.)
“The FMLA entitled an employee to twelve workweeks of leave per year if the employee has a “serious health condition that makes the employee unable to perform the functions of the position of such employee.” (cites omitted). FMLA regulations require that an employee be “employed for at least 1,250 hours of service during the 12-month period immediately preceding the commencement of the leave” to quality for leave. (cites omitted). A serious health condition is “an illness, injury, impairment, or physical or mental condition that involves (A) inpatient care in a hospital, hospice, or residential medical care facility or (B) continuing treatment by a health care provider.”” (cites omitted). Id.
“Ordinarily, “a doctor’s certification of a serious health condition is sufficient if it sates 1) the date on which the serious health condition began, 2) the probable duration of the condition, 3) the appropriate medical facts within the health care provider’s knowledge, and 3) a statement that the employee is unable to perform her job duties.”” (cites omitted). Id.
Plaintiff sued under both a interference and retaliation theory of recovery under the FMLA. “In order to establish a prima facie claim of retaliation under the FMLA, Coffman must show that 1) she was engage in an activity protected by the FMLA, 2) her employer knew that she was exercising her rights under the FMLA, 3) her employer took an employment action adverse to her, and 4) there was a causal connection between the protected FMLA activity and the adverse employment action.”” (cites omitted). Id.
In this FMLA lawsuit, the Defendant offered a non-discriminatory reason for terminating the Plaintiff; it claimed that Plaintiff was awol at least fourteen times during the last year of her employment. Id. The Court discussed the Defendant’s side and the Plaintiff’s side to the absences in question, but, even assuming that Plaintiff should have been covered under the FMLA for all of her work absences, the Defendant still is granted summary judgment because the Plaintiff did not bring the lawsuit within the 2 year statute of limitations for a regular FMLA work lawsuit and just barely brought the lawsuit under the 3 year statute of limitations which is only for FMLA violation cases when the FMLA violation is willful. Id. Thus, the Court then looked at the alleged FMLA violations and whether or not the Defendant’s actions were willful violations and not just negligent ones. Id. The Court held that the Plaintiff did not put forward any evidence proving that the violations were willful and thus, the Court dismissed the case for this ground as well as for the Plaintiff not really proving her case on the other grounds as well. Id.
Thus, if you are a Louisville FMLA employee and have a question as to whether you are entitled to FMLA leave, contact a Louisville FMLA lawyer. Mr. Alitowski, a Louisville overtime lawyer, can assist you and your co-workers in a failure to pay overtime lawsuit.
If you have been the subject of Louisville FMLA employment case, please call and speak to a Louisville FMLA lawyer at the Law Offices of Andrew S. Alitowski at 888-ASK-ANDREW (275-2637) or contact us online. We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
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