In Wynn v. J.C. Penny Co., Inc., No. 4:05CV238, 2006 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 15646 (E.D.Tex. March 14, 2006), the court denied the employer’s motion for summary judgment dismissing the employee’s FMLA claim. The employee alleged that his former employer intimidated and ultimately terminated him after he had taken FMLA leave due to depression following the death of his common law wife as a result of cancer. While out on approved disability leave for three months Mr. Wynn’s supervisor called him numerous times and pressured him to return to work. On his return to work his supervisor told him that “milking sick leave is a fast way to get fired,” and that he “had better get his resume in order because [he] was on the way out the f ing door.” Wynn was fired two months later for disruptive behavior as a result of his involvement in verbal altercations with several co-workers. Wynn alleged that he was fired in retaliation for taking FMLA leave. In denying the employer’s motion for summary judgment, the court relied on the fact that he was terminated within two months of his return from FMLA leave and that he was yelled at for “milking” sick leave and threatened with termination.
Comment: Agencies need to train their supervisors that FMLA leave is a right, not a privilege, and that the law protects employees who exercise that right from interference and retaliation.