Dismissal of ADA and FMLA Claims Affirmed by 11th Circuit, the Court to Which Federal Cases Arising in Georgia Are Heard on Appeal

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.

Facts of the Case

In a recent case, the plaintiff was a man who was fired for violating his employer’s attendance policy. He filed suit in federal court, alleging that the termination of his employment by the defendant employer (which came after the plaintiff took 13 weeks off from work due to a non-work-related injury to his ankle) was in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA); the plaintiff further asserted that the defendant had violated the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) by interfering with his attempts to take time off work due to medical issues that he was experiencing and by retaliating against him for taking leave against the defendant’s wishes. The federal district court granted summary judgment to the defendant. The plaintiff appealed.

The Court’s Opinion

In an unpublished opinion, the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit affirmed the lower court’s ruling. In addressing the plaintiff’s claims that the defendant had wrongfully discriminated against him in violation of the ADA, interfered with his substantive rights in violation of the FMLA, and retaliated against him for engaging in statutorily protected activity in violation of the FMLA, the court found no reversible error in the lower tribunal’s decision to grant summary judgment to the defendant.

With regard to the plaintiff’s ADA claim, the court of appeals found that summary judgment was proper because the plaintiff had failed to show that he was actually disabled or perceived as disabled when the defendant took the allegedly discriminatory action and/or when the plaintiff was terminated. As to the plaintiff’s FMLA claims, the court of appeals agreed that the district court has been correct in siding with the defendant as to the plaintiff’s claims that the defendant interfered with the plaintiff’s FMLA rights and/or retaliated against him for engaging in a protected activity.

(Although the plaintiff in the case was from Florida, the appeals court considered the case solely based on issues of federal law; thus, the result would have been the same had the plaintiff been a Georgia resident. The Eleventh Circuit hears federal cases appealed from both states.)

Consult an Atlanta Employment Discrimination Lawyer

While success is never guaranteed in employment law cases (or any other type of litigation, for that matter), a litigant’s chances for success on the merits of his or her claim can be increased by consulting an experienced Atlanta employment law attorney as soon as possible after he or she has reason to believe that his or her employer (or potential employer, as the case may be) has violated state or federal law. To schedule a consultation with Attorney John L. Mays at the Atlanta law firm of Parks, Chesin & Walbert, call us now at 404-873-8048.

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