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Use of FMLA time may have resulted in retaliation to an ex worker

Serious illnesses can be difficult for Texas employees to manage, and in some cases, the medical conditions may be so severe that an approved leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act may be necessary for those employees who qualify for this employment benefit. Taking advantage of this federal law, however, should not result in adverse employment conditions or any other type of retaliation. A former employee of Dart Container Corp. in another state alleges that he lost his job because he took an approved medical leave, and he has filed a claim against the company and its human resource manager in federal court.

The plaintiff started working for Dart in 1988 and worked up through the ranks until he became the production manager. The man suffered from gout and periodically needed to take time away from work to recover from his condition. He was reportedly eligible to receive 12 weeks of approved medical leave under the FMLA.

After receiving a raise, the plaintiff's condition became worse. Accordingly, he was forced to use some of his FMLA time to take two and one-half days off to recover. When he returned, he alleges that his employer retaliated against him for using the time and did not assist him by giving him employment accommodations appropriate to his circumstances. The stress of this situation purportedly only made his condition worse.

Later, the human resource manager disciplined him for violating a company policy because his child had come to work to assist him, and ultimately, he was fired. The plaintiff asserts that his termination was not due to a policy violation, but was an act of retaliation because he used his FMLA leave. He seeks lost wages, legal fees and monetary damages due to the emotional distress this situation has caused him. Texas employers should be well versed in how to handle employees who take an approved medical leave; upon returning to work, workers should not face any retaliation or other mistreatment. Those who are aggrieved can consider filing claims against their employers to right the wrongs against them.

Source:, "Man sues Dart Container over allegations of FMLA violation, retaliation", Carrie Bradon, Jan. 14, 2016

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