Family Medical Leave Act — Accomodation

In Henry v. United Bank, the defendant employer prevailed on a motion for Summary Judgment.  The plaintiff employee accused his employer of retaliation and disability discrimination in violation of the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA).  The Court found that the employer did not violate these statutes by terminating the plaintiff’s employment after she had exhausted her 12 weeks of of medical leave.  

The plaintiff claimed that the defendant made comments wondering if “anybody had heard from Dan or his wife on when he’s coming back” and called the plaintiff a “wuss” and “needed to get a back bone.”  However, the Court found that these comments were not connected to the plaintiff’s medical leave.  

There was further evidence that the bank had made several workplace accommodations from the time the plaintiff first appeared sick.  For instance, while she was out of work, her position was held open for 12 weeks and the defendant contributed to her group health plan.  

This case illustrates the importance for employers to ensure that they comply with employment statutes.  When done properly, claims can be disposed of at Summary Judgment, saving employers large sums of money.  Further, it is likewise important for employees to comply with their responsibilities pursuant to the FMLA and return to work after 12 weeks.  If they do not, potential claims will be dismissed before trial.