NJ court gives employers hope in fight against FMLA abuse
The U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey recently upheld the dismissal of an employee’s discrimination and retaliation claims filed under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). The employee claimed she was discriminated against for taking FMLA leave to care for her son’s and her own disabilities. The employer said she was fired for repeatedly lying about her reasons for taking the leave. In the end, the court agreed the record confirmed her abusive and dishonest actions.
Marsha VanHook began working for Cooper Health Systems in 2010 as a secretary and subsequently became a professional services representative. She has two sons, Michael and Sean, who reside with her.
In 2013, Cooper approved VanHook for intermittent FMLA leave to care for Michael. She claimed he had been diagnosed with ADHD and oppositional defiant disorder, was prone to aggressive outbursts, must be taken to medical appointments, and required constant supervision.
In 2016, VanHook was cited on two occasions for being unprofessional. She didn’t challenge either citation through Cooper’s formal system. She claims she was diagnosed with an acute stress disorder, experiencing depression, severe anxiety, panic attacks, and related symptoms. After having a nervous breakdown, she took medical leave from October to December 2016. The employer never refused any of her leave requests.