An employee who was fired four months after taking leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) lost his claims for interference and retaliation. Ross v. Gilhuly (3rd Cir. 2014).
The employee was placed on a performance improvement plan (PIP) approximately one month prior to taking leave following a complaint from a major customer. The PIP was suspended while the employee was on leave. When he returned, it was extended for 60 days. The employee was fired four months after returning from leave for failing to meet the PIP’s goals.
The court dismissed his FMLA interference and retaliation claims because the PIP and discipline had been imposed prior to the employee’s leave. Therefore, the termination was clearly not in retaliation for his leave. The court also held that the employer’s approval of his FMLA leave meant the employee had no claim for FMLA interference.
The lesson for employers is that, if well documented, employees may be disciplined and even terminated after returning from FMLA leave for performance issues arising prior to leave. Contact an MSEC attorney for assistance, if you have such a situation.