FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 14, 2021
Contact: Eric W. Boyer, Esq.
305.670.1101 Ext. 1023
QPWB WINS COMPLETE SUMMARY JUDGMENT IN FMLA
EMPLOYMENT INTERFERENCE AND RETALIATION ACTION
U.S. Labor and Employment Law
PENSACOLA, Fla. ― Diane M. Longoria, a Partner in QPWB’s Pensacola office, obtained a final summary judgment in federal court on Plaintiff’s action for FMLA interference and retaliation, on behalf of a multinational retailer. Plaintiff claimed back pay, front pay, and double/liquidated damages for willful violation.
Plaintiff, a Department Manager, and employee for over 20 years, was terminated for violation of attendance policy after she accrued 9 unexcused absences in a rolling 6-month period. Plaintiff filed a complaint in state court, which the defense removed to federal court, claiming FMLA interference and retaliation. Longoria prepared a comprehensive motion for summary judgment arguing all FMLA claims should be dismissed. United States District Judge Casey Rodgers of the Northern District of Florida, agreed with the defense on all material points in granting the defense summary judgment.
Plaintiff claimed that she suffered from an FMLA qualified “serious medical condition” of chronic insulin resistance and that her FMLA rights were violated when she returned to work after a 2-day absence for “flu” that was exacerbated by this condition and was not advised by her employer that she could potentially be eligible for FMLA intermittent leave that would have excused those absences and prevented her termination.
Longoria argued that Plaintiff could not prove she was eligible for FMLA because (1) she had no record evidence, other than self-serving, unsupported, deposition and affidavit testimony, that she had ever been diagnosed with chronic insulin resistance, and (2) Plaintiff did not provide her employer with adequate notice of a qualifying serious medical condition as she never mentioned her chronic insulin resistance to any store manager for any of the unexcused absences, or even on the day she was terminated when given an opportunity to explain her absences. Plaintiff had simply called out “sick” and never for more than two consecutive days. The Court agreed with the defense on all points raised and held that Plaintiff did not raise a genuine issue on whether she had a “potentially FMLA-qualifying reason” for any of her absences and summary judgment was appropriate on Plaintiff’s FMLA interference claim.
Plaintiff also claimed that her employer retaliated against her for taking FMLA leave on several occasions years prior to her termination. Longoria was able to get Plaintiff to admit during her deposition that she did not believe she was terminated for previously taking FMLA leave and that she did not believe she was treated differently than others who took FMLA leave. Again, the Court agreed with the defense’s argument that with these admissions, Plaintiff had disavowed all claims for FMLA retaliation, and summary judgment was appropriate on Plaintiff’s retaliation claims as well.
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Diane M. Longoria is a Partner in the Pensacola office with over 32 years of civil litigation experience in federal and state courts, at trial and appellate levels, and in formal and informal administrative proceedings. She also serves as neutral counsel to handle and prepare Qualified Domestic Relations Order and Domestic Relations Orders for splitting private and public entity retirement and pension plans in divorce. Ms. Longoria’s practice includes medical malpractice defense, construction, and labor and employment litigation. She represents businesses, public entities, and individuals in cases of wrongful death, personal injury, professional malpractice, labor and employment, construction contract disputes, timber rights, identity theft and privacy rights, education law, insurance coverage, creditor/debtor disputes, arts and entertainment contract disputes, copyright infringement, and real estate transaction disputes. Ms. Longoria received her law degree from Indiana University School of Law in 1983. She is admitted to practice law in Florida and in the U.S. District Court for the Northern and Middle Districts of Florida; the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit; and Florida Northern District Bankruptcy Court.
Quintairos, Prieto, Wood & Boyer, P.A. is the largest minority and women owned law firm in the nation with more than 380 lawyers serving clients from 27 offices in the United States and abroad across a spectrum of industries in over 40 areas of practice. Our lawyers provide representation in litigation, business, real estate and governmental law.