Established 1958 ~ Hardball Business Litigation & Complex Negotiations

Termination One Month After Requesting FMLA Leave Creates Sufficient Casual Link

In Ha Long v. Spalding Auto. Inc., the Eastern District Court of Pennsylvania—ruling on a motion to dismiss—determined that the plaintiff may proceed on his FMLA retaliation claim against his former employer because there were sufficient facts to establish a prima facie case for FMLA retaliation. No. CV 17-4865, 2018 WL 6244755, at *4 (E.D. Pa. Nov. 29, 2018). In Ha Long, the plaintiff sued his former employer alleging employment discrimination and retaliation. Plaintiff began his employment with Defendant in 2013 and was diagnosed with thoracic disease and disc disease in September 2015. Throughout his employment, Plaintiff periodically needed to request time off and needed accommodations due to his health conditions. Later, in March 2016, Plaintiff requested FMLA leave to attend to his daughter’s needs, as she was undergoing surgery. Initially, the FMLA request was not approved; however, the employer approved the FMLA leave after Plaintiff contacted his union representative, who contacted the chief operating officer. Then in June 2016, Plaintiff again had to request FMLA leave due to the pain he was experiencing as a result of his medical condition. On July 1, 2016, Defendant approved this request, conditioned upon Plaintiff sending appropriate FMLA documents within fifteen (15) days. Plaintiff allegedly complied with this request, but on August 1, 2016, Defendant terminated Plaintiff claiming the documentation was never received and citing attendance issues.

In order to state a viable claim for FMLA retaliation, the plaintiff here must be able to show that: (1) he engaged in protected employee activity; (2) he suffered an adverse employment action; and (3) the adverse action was causally related to the protected activity. Based on the facts at hand, the Court found that the plaintiff has alleged sufficient facts in order to defeat a motion to dismiss his FMLA retaliation claim. The Court recognized that the one-month gap between plaintiff requesting FMLA leave and his subsequent termination created a reasonable link that they may be related.

The statutes, regulations, and case law that govern the employer-employee relationship are constantly evolving. If you have questions about a legal situation, contact the Philadelphia employment lawyers at the Law Office of Sidkoff, Pincus & Green P.C. today to schedule a confidential consultation. We can be reached at 215-574-0600 or by submitting a convenient online contact form.