Jottings By An Employer's Lawyer

Wednesday, September 24, 2003

Just Having The Law Books Is Not Enough To Protect Oneself From the FMLA


Or at least that could be what you surmise based on the lack of success of that famous purveyor of law books, West Publishing in their run in with a discharged sales representative advancing a claim under the FMLA. In a classic example (perhaps) of no good deed goes unpunished, West's decision to terminate the rep for misdeeds, but waiting until after the Christmas holidays, also left them in the position of having to terminate him while on the medical leave he had taken beginning Christmas day. Unfortunately, West was unable to convince a jury that the decision was already made, and thus the jury's finding of a violation of the FMLA was upheld both by the trial court and the 6th Circuit. Arban v. West Publishing Co. (6th Cir. 9/24/03). West probably did not help itself by insisting that he perform work in the form of providing an extensive list of sales leads while he was on medical leave. And making matters worse the Court reversed the district court's denial of liquidated damages and remanded for further review on that matter, but leaving little doubt that they believed such damages would be in order. Yet another example of how the FMLA can be a dangerous statute for employers, even those with unlimited access to the law books.

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