Federal Appeals Court Reinstates Retaliation and Interference Claims Under FMLA
When Cathleen Graziadio temporarily left her position as a payroll clerk at the Culinary Institute on Long Island, New York to tend to her two sons who were each hospitalized within 2-weeks of each other her attempts to submit paperwork for leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”) were rejected by her employer. She was subsequently terminated for purportedly abandoning her position and commenced a Federal lawsuit for retaliation and interference under the FMLA. The FMLA enables employees to take unpaid and protected leave from work for certain family and medical reasons. One of those reasons is when an employee needs to care for a spouse, child, or parent who has a serious health condition. Under such circumstance, an employee is entitled to 12 workweeks of leave in a 12-month period. In the event an employer interferes with an employee’s rights under the FMLA or retaliates by terminating the employee then a civil lawsuit may be commenced to protect the employee and recover compensation for one’s damages. In the case Graziadio v. Culinary Institute of America, 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, No. 15-88, the 2nd Circuit overturned the decision of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York by reinstating Ms. Graziadio’s case because it held that the school “studiously avoided responding” to the plaintiff’s requests for clarification concerning what paperwork was needed for the FMLA leave.