A Pinellas County man asserts that he was fired by his former employer, BayCare Health System, Inc., for exercising his rights under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and the Employment Retirement Security Act (ERISA) to take medical leave for his chronic medical conditions.
The plaintiff, John Doe, whose name is being withheld due to his medical conditions, alleges that the defendant would not allow him to take leave and retaliated against him.
Filed on June 20 in the 6th Judicial Circuit of Florida—Pinellas County, the complaint states that the plaintiff began working for the defendant in 1999. After being diagnosed with HIV and other disabilities, the plaintiff was granted intermittent leave under the FMLA in 2002. However, the plaintiff’s medical conditions were disclosed to BayCare’s management and his co-workers without his consent.
After his HIV status and related conditions were revealed to management, the plaintiff was required to divulge to all members of his department when he had doctor’s appointments, was going to be absent from work, and when he was going to take FMLA leave. No other employees were required to do so.
On or around March 1 of this year, the plaintiff conveyed his need to take FMLA leave to his director, but was told that his “FMLA was a burden on the department.” Five days later the plaintiff was terminated for pretextual reasons. Because the plaintiff was fired, the defendant violated his rights under the FMLA.
In addition, the defendant had also retaliated against the plaintiff in the past because he had exercised his rights under the FMLA. The plaintiff’s rights were also violated under the ERISA because the defendant interfered with his need to use the benefits furnished by the ERISA employee benefit plan.
Finally, the plaintiff had voiced his concerns to the defendant regarding ongoing confidentiality and privacy violations and lack of safeguards regarding access to HIV employees’ medical records. The plaintiff stated that he thought this was a violation of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).
Among the plaintiff’s demands are:
- a trial by jury;
- reinstatement to a comparable position;
- compensation for lost wages,
- benefits, and
- remunerations; back pay, plus interest and pension rights; attorney’s fees and court costs; and liquidated damages
The plaintiff is represented by Donna V. Smith of Wenzel Fenton Cabassa, P.A.
Your Rights Under the Family Medical and Leave Act
Under the Family Medical and Leave Act (FMLA), an employee is permitted to take up to 12 weeks off during a 12-month period to:
- Seek care for a serious health condition
- Care for a family member who has a serious health condition
- Care for their new child
If you believe your rights have been violated under the FMLA, you should first document all instances of retaliation you feel took place and who was involved. You should also gather all communication pertaining to any negative employment action related to this. Then consider contacting an experienced attorney who can help evaluate your circumstances.
At Wenzel Fenton Cabassa, P.A., we’re here to protect your rights and help you take action when you’ve been discriminated against, wrongfully terminated, or retaliated against for exercising your right to take medical leave from work under the FMLA. Contact one of our Family and Medical Leave Act Attorneys today to schedule your free consultation.