Court: No tacking wrongful discharge claims onto FMLA suit

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in Firing,FMLA Guidelines,Human Resources

Lawyers are always looking for new and different reasons to sue employers on behalf of employees and applicants. That’s bad news for employers, because additional charges mean greater legal costs, more lost time and potentially higher jury awards.

Fortunately, courts are growing impatient with this practice, as the following case shows.

Recent case: Former Sears employee Gerard Atchinson sued, claiming he was fired for taking FMLA leave.

His attorneys also said the discharge broke Pennsylvania state law because it violated public policy. Pennsylvania outlaws firing at-will employees if doing so would violate public policy, and Atchinson argued that violating the FMLA violates public policy.

The court dismissed the additional claim, concluding that the FMLA has its own remedies built in. Employees must use those. (Atchinson v. Sears, No. 08-3257, ED PA, 2009)

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