Supervisor's Inadvisable Email Creates Basis for FMLA Claim


File this in your "Don't Do This When Conducting a RIF" folder. As highlighted by the folks at the Atlanta Employment Lawyer Blog, employers should be wary of eliminating the position of an employee who announces days earlier that he will need several weeks off for surgery. When the evidence shows that this employee was not targeted for the layoff before he requested FMLA leave, but only after, it may well be enough to allow him to present his claims to a jury.

The Facts

William Shaffer was the Director of Leadership Communications for the American Medical Association (AMA). In 2008, when the economic downturn was taking shape, the AMA cut internal budgets. When initial cutbacks were not enough, the AMA slated various staff positions for elimination. Shaffer's boss indicated that it would be an "obvious choice" to eliminate the position of another employee in Shaffer's Department because this employee's duties had changed significantly and, in any event, the AMA had stopped work on one of his core campaigns. When Shaffer's boss was asked on October 28 whether Shaffer should be slated for layoff, he did not believe cutting additional positions was necessary, including Shaffer's position. The decision appeared to make sense.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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