The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) like many other aspects of employment law can have many different applications and can be very complicated for employees to understand. It is also just as difficult many times from the employer’s perspective when it comes to protecting employee’s rights and staying within these guidelines. Tayeb Hyderally is an expert employment law attorney who makes it a point to explain FMLA such that it is easily understood and applied by businesses and individuals alike. The difficulty lies in the unique circumstances surrounding every case. As an expert employment law attorney Ty Hyderally works to inform individuals and businesses how it applies to their specific situation and how they can all work together to protect everyone’s rights under this law.
Sanders v. City of Newport
In this FMLA case, an employee, Diane Sanders was denied reinstatement to her previous position upon returning from her medical leave that was authorized by the FMLA. The employer then has the burden of proving that it had a very valid reason for denying her the previous position.
Diane Sanders was the utility billing clerk for the City of Newport, Oregon. The doctor reported that her health problems were linked to sensitivity to certain chemicals that she was exposed to on the job. This illness occurred after the city changed the previous billing paper to a lower grade. The physician suggested that she take of one month from January to February 2006. Due to some unrelated problems, Sanders extended her leave of absence. However, in May of 2006, she was informed that she would not be allowed to return to work because of the chemical sensitivity. The employer was concerned that the workplace would not be safe for her and they could not guarantee her safety so they told her that she was released from her duties.
Ms. Sanders promptly replied and insisted that she was physically able to return to the prior job and she presented reports from her doctors which stated such. The city informed Ms. Sanders in January of 2007 that they would not be able to accommodate her new medical restrictions. The statement by the city read, “Given your sensitivity to chemicals and the lack of knowledge as to the chemicals or concentrations that may cause a reaction” therefore they would not be able to accommodate.
Sanders chose to sue the City claiming that they violated the FMLA, the ADA and other federal and state laws. When it had gone to trail, the jury found the city to be innocent of any violations but the judge declared that the City did violate the Oregon Act and therefore was entitled to over $64,000 in pay and other compensation as well as over $60,000 in attorney fees and other court costs. However, both sides appealed this decision.
The right of reinstatement is not certain and according to the US Department of Labor there are stipulations that state if the employee is unable to perform the basic job functions the business is not obligated to restore them to a position based on the FMLA. These regulations do not have any stipulations as to which party has the burden of proof in these types of circumstances. However, in this case the court found that the business had to have a legitimate reason in order to deny an employee reinstatement. There was a new trial ordered on the FMLA claim but this decision illustrated that there is no guarantee of reinstatement from FMLA. However, if an employer denies an employee’s reinstatement then they must be prepared to demonstrate why the employee is not able to be reinstated.