Employment Lawyer in Philadelphia Discusses Outrageous Outcome in FMLA Violation Lawsuit
October 27, 2012
By Debra A. Jensen
Employers are once again trying to tread on an employee’s right to legitimate time off as provided by the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) of 1993. The FMLA provides covered employees with up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave per year for certain family and medical reasons. A recent case from Indianapolis shows just how far employers will go to keep employees from exercising their legal rights. Daryl Scruggs, an employee of Carrier Corporation, had FMLA-approved leave to periodically visit his mother in her nursing home and drive her to medical appointments. His employer, convinced that Mr. Scruggs was “abusing” his leave time, hired an investigator to place Mr. Scruggs under surveillance!
The investigator set up video surveillance on Mr. Scruggs’ house and filmed his comings and goings one day. The detective didn’t see any activity and his boss concluded that Mr. Scruggs had never left his house to visit his mother. Based on the investigator’s report, Carrier fired Mr. Scruggs. Carrier said that Scruggs did not take that day off “for the intended purpose” of his FMLA leave and, instead, abused his FMLA leave rights, pretending to take care of his mother when he wasn’t.
Mr. Scruggs sued Carrier, claiming that he was fired illegally. His employment attorney presented a lot of evidence to support his claim. Mr. Scrugg’s provided a doctor’s note proving his mother had been at an appointment on the day in question. He had a letter from his mother’s nursing home. And he even submitted the sign-out sheet from the nursing home on the day of his surveillance! But that wasn’t enough. Despite all of this, the Court said that Carrier was within its rights to fire Mr. Scruggs because they had an “honest belief” that he had been his abusing FMLA rights.
Many employment attorneys are outraged by the Court’s decision. They believe that the “honest belief” defense is just another way for employers to do an end-run around their responsibilities. They say that FMLA rights are protected rights and employers should not be allowed to have ways to stack a deck against their employees. They insist that hiring private detectives to spy on employees can lead to resentment at work. Most of all, employment law attorneys contend that the Scruggs case puts too much power into an employer’s hands and takes it away from deserving employees.
The Family and Medical Leave Act allows employees to take time off from work because of a serious medical condition of the employee or a family member or because of the birth or adoption of a child. FMLA rights were hard to earn. They must be protected!!
Galfand Berger Employment Law Attorneys in Philadelphia Fight against Violations of Workers’ Rights
If you believe you, a friend or a family member are experiencing a violation of your FMLA rights, call the employment law attorneys at Galfand Berger. Our attorneys are well-versed in the laws designed to protect workers from abusive employers and passionately advocate for our clients’ rights. With offices in Center-City Philadelphia, Reading and Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, our lawyers are available to meet with you throughout the Southeast Pennsylvania and South Jersey region. Call us at 1-800-222-USWA (8792) or contact us online.