Tayeb Hyderally is an expert at employment law and to stay informed he dedicates large portions of his time in researching and studying both recent and past cases. He pays particular attention to cases which deal with fresh legal matters and those which set new precedents. Ty Hyderally needs to stay informed on the rapid changes that can occur in the world of employment law. This is because he makes it a priority to inform large amounts of people about their responsibilities and rights as they pertain to employment law. The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA) entitles employees who are eligible to take an unpaid leave of absence for specific medical or family reasons. Some of the areas covered under the FMLA are the birth or adoption of a new child, to care for a close family member who is suffering from a serious health condition or if the employee is not able to work due to a serious health condition. When an employee needs to take leave for legitimate reasons, there should be no retaliation.
Hofferica v. St. Mary Medical Center
In March, 2008 Kathleen Hofferica was diagnosed with Meniere’s disease. At that time she was employed at St. Mary Medical Center. She applied for intermittent employment leave based on provisions of the FMLA. St Mary’s authorized her intermittent FMLA leave for her from February 5, 2008 until February 4, 2009. Ms. Hofferica or her husband contacted professionals at ST. Mary to obtain updates of her progress as well as when she might expect to return to work. The first date she was expected to return to work was set at November 6, 2008. On November 4, she attempted to contact her manager to discuss the possibility that the doctor might change her expected return to work date. Her call was never returned. Her doctor cleared her return to work on November 13, 2008. Ms. Hofferica called to speak with the assistant manager to explain that the date had changed and she also wanted to request an extension to accommodate the disability. Once again, her call was not returned.
Ms. Hofferica received a letter from St. Mary on November 12 but it was dated November 7, 2008. It stated that she had been terminated since her leave for medical reasons had expired and she had not yet returned to work. She immediately filed a law suit against ST. Mary and alleged that they violated the ADA, the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act as well as the FMLA. She also claimed that the company was guilty of interference as well as retaliation. St. Mary asked for a dismissal of all the claims.
Since Ms. Hofferica started her FMLA leave and the assistant manager failed to properly return phone calls, the court stated that she did have a claim of FMLA retaliation. Even though the employer failing to return an employee’s phone call does not constitute overt antagonism, it did see that this suggested an antagonistic attitude toward Ms. Hofferica. This is particularly true since the employee failed to respond after she had initiated her FMLA leave. The court rejected the motion to dismiss the retaliation claim by ST. Mary. They did find that it could be concluded that Ms. Hofferica did have enough evidence to declare a case of retaliation per the FMLA.
This case is an important reminder to employers of how necessary it is to retain communications with employees who are on FMLA leave. They cannot simply wait until it is time for the employee to return to work to communicate but must openly communicate throughout the time of leave.