Articles Posted in FMLA

Is it possible for your employer to take certain proper actions in the aftermath of your workplace injury and still do (or fail to do) other things that constitute violations of the law? Yes, it is. Just because your employer complies with one law does not absolve it of its responsibility to comply with other laws and, if you are harmed because your employer failed to satisfy any of its legal obligations, you may be entitled to recover compensation in a legal action. To learn more about your options, get in touch with a knowledgeable Atlanta employment lawyer.

Two such laws that may overlap in the case of a workplace injury are workers’ compensation law and the Family and Medical Leave Act. Take, for example, the FMLA interference case of N.R., a housekeeper at a hospital in Gwinnett County.

In September 2016, the housekeeper suffered a significant knee injury at work. The employer promptly took action, but that action was to process the housekeeper’s injury as a workers’ compensation claim. The employer did not provide N.R. with any information about her FMLA rights.

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Federal law protects employees against racial discrimination and actions taken in retaliation for an employee’s assertion of his or her rights under certain federal laws designed for the protection of workers. However, an Atlanta employment discrimination claim will not be viable in every alleged instance of discrimination or retaliation.

In order to prove his or her case, the plaintiff must have enough evidence to survive the inevitable motion to dismiss by the employer, and this is not always an easy task. Consulting an experienced employment law attorney who can help the plaintiff build his or her case is essential.

Facts of the Case

The plaintiff in a recent case was an African American woman who was hired to work as a property manager for the defendant employer in 2012. She was promoted to area manager in 2014 but demoted back to property manager in 2015. After being terminated later that year, the plaintiff filed suit in federal district court alleging that she was terminated because of her race in violation of  Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. § 2000(e) and 42 U.S.C. § 1981; that the defendant had interfered with her rights under the family Medical Leave Act (FMLA); and that the defendant had retaliated against her for asserting her rights under FMLA.

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Discrimination based on race, gender, and age is still alarmingly common. If you believe you have been a victim of such unlawful conduct, you should talk to an Atlanta employment discrimination attorney about the possibility of filing a claim against your employer.

However, you should be aware of the requirements of such a claim, namely, that the burden of proof is on the plaintiff to proof his or her case. This is not always easy, as most employers deny that any discrimination actually occurred.

Instead, the employer will likely point the finger at the plaintiff, blaming him or her for creating a situation that led to the dismissal, demotion, or failure to promote about which the employee complains.

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An Atlanta employment lawsuit can arise from an employer’s alleged violation of several different state and federal laws, including both the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Family Medical Leave Act.

However, it should be pointed out that the plaintiff has the burden of proving each and every element of his or her case, which can sometimes be a difficult task.

Of course, each case is decided upon its own merits, so the fact that the plaintiff in a particular case was unsuccessful in his or her quest for legal redress should not discourage a would-be litigant from asserting his or her own legal rights in a separate suit.

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When an employee launches a legal action against his employer that asserts that the employer engaged in illegal discriminatory or retaliatory conduct in the termination of the employee, each side will have important evidentiary showings they’ll need to make. The employer needs to prove that it had a legitimate reason for taking action. The employee must show that the employer’s stated reason was a ruse to hide an illegal motive. Whether you’re an employer or an employee in a discrimination or retaliation case, it helps to have knowledgeable Georgia discrimination attorneys working on your side. Continue reading ›

For employers, complicated issues can arise from deciding to terminate an employee who is out on leave. Depending on the circumstances, executing this termination may leave the employer open to a Family and Medical Leave Act lawsuit. In the case of one city worker in Michigan, the employer went ahead with firing the employer while she was out on leave due to surgery, but the employee’s FMLA lawsuit still fell short. The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals’ ruling, which covers Tennessee as well as Michigan, makes it clear that an FMLA plaintiff must not only connect the termination and the FMLA leave in terms of timing but also provide a clear causation linkage. Whether you are in the role of employer or employee, these types of circumstances are clear examples of the need to retain skilled Tennessee FMLA counsel to ensure that your interests are protected. Continue reading ›

A considerable variety of employment law cases, especially when the employee’s claims relate to discrimination or retaliation, can succeed or fail based upon which side (employee or employer) presents a stronger case about whether the employer’s adverse action was legitimate or merely a pretext for engaging in illegal conduct. Many times, this may boil down to other employees working for the same employer and whether or not they qualify as “similarly situated” in relation to the employee who has sued. The case of a nurse from Florida allegedly fired for sleeping on the job offers a real-life example of this.

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An old fable tells the story of a cat and a monkey. The monkey convinces the cat to fetch some chestnuts from the embers of a recently extinguished fire. The cat gets the nuts and gives them to the monkey, burning its paw in the process. A maid interrupts their activity, resulting in the cat getting nothing but a burned paw for its troubles. This fable is the origin of a phrase – “cat’s paw” – that means being the tool of another person. In employment law, the “cat’s paw” theory of liability is something that can hold an employer liable even when the employer has been duped by one of its supervisory or managerial employees.

A recent Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals case addressed the question of whether the “cat’s paw” theory of liability can apply in a Family and Medical Leave Act retaliation case. The plaintiff was a woman who worked for a company that provided “cost containment” services for insurance companies. The employee had depression, anxiety, and PTSD issues. Due to a bout of acute mental health problems, the employee took an unplanned period of FMLA leave in early 2012. Sometime after this, the company demoted her from a team lead position to an analyst role.

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A nursing facility’s activities director got good news from the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals when that court revived his Family and Medical Leave Act lawsuit, concluding that his retaliation claim was sufficient to escape summary judgment. Of larger significance, the 11th Circuit declared for the first time what the proper method was for measuring temporal proximity in circumstantial FMLA retaliation claims, establishing that the proper measure was the gap between the last day of FMLA leave and the date of the adverse employment action.

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In an employee’s Family and Medical Leave Act case, there are various potential avenues to success for an employer. One way an employer can blunt an employee’s case is by establishing that the employee did not follow company policy for reporting his FMLA absences. That’s what happened to one waffle-packaging machine operator in Tennessee, and the employer’s evidence proved to be enough to allow it to obtain summary judgment on the employee’s FMLA claims.

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