by Michael Fox
Plaintiff's claim was simple (even if looking at the brief facts of the case it appears his life might not be). While he agreed he was terminated because of his poor performance, it was only because his replacement had done so much better while he was out on leave. That made it an illegal termination. Wrong, says the Court. Phelan v. City of Chicago (7th Cir. 10/21/03). Basically, the court notes that an employee gains no additional rights when on FMLA leave, so it is not illegal to terminate for poor performance, regardless of when that decision is reached. Obviously, it is all in the proof of motive, which can sometimes be trickier than the Court found it here.