No FMLA Violation for Firing Employee Who Abused Leave


A federal trial court recently granted summary judgment in favor of Southwest Airlines on a former reservation agent's claim the airline terminated him in retaliation for his use of leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). The court held that the former employee failed to dispute the airline's legitimate, non-retaliatory reason for his discharge – that he abused FMLA leave by using it in conjunction with regularly scheduled days off and to take time off on holidays.

Rydalch was employed as a reservations agent for Southwest in Salt Lake City, Utah. In 2004, Southwest closed its Salt Lake City reservations center and Rydalch transferred to the Houston, Texas office. His family remained in Salt Lake City. Because of his seniority, Rydalch had difficulty getting off work on the holidays.

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