Plaintiff, George Ballato, a former employee of the Defendant brought suit under the Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”). The Plaintiff alleged that the Defendant interfered with his right to receive protected leave pursuant to the FMLA and fired the Plaintiff because he asserted his rights under the FMLA.
The District Court granted summary judgment for the Defendant on both claims. Plaintiff appealed the ruling as to his interference claim only.
Did the District Court err in granting summary judgment for the Defendant?
No, the District Court did not err.
The court held that in order to have an interference claim under the FMLA, an employee must first show that they were entitled to FMLA leave and they were then denied that leave.
Here, the lower court found that when Plaintiff initially requested FMLA leave, the Defendant did not deny it. The Plaintiff was told to contact the supervisor of Defendant’s Resource Center regarding his requested leave. Not only did Plaintiff fail to do so, but the Plaintiff erroneously determined that the Defendant had fired him. The Plaintiff also failed to contact the Defendant and inquire about his employment status or request additional FMLA leave after this initial request.
Additionally, the District Court found that Defendant had a valid reason for firing the Plaintiff unrelated to his requested FMLA leave. Plaintiff, after determining he was terminated, stopped showing up to work or calling the Defendant to request additional leave. After missing three consecutive shifts, the Defendant, as per their guidelines, determined Plaintiff had abandoned his job.
By: James Baez