A U.S. District Court judge in Chicago has denied employer Marsh USA’s summary judgment motion on Count V on Juanda Lynn Jordan’s Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) complaint. The complaint alleged that Marsh USA violated the FMLA’s anti-retaliation provision for exercising her right to medical leave because it honestly (though perhaps mistakenly) believed she had failed to provide appropriate documentation for additional time off when it terminated her employment.
The District Court Judge Matthew F. Kennelly examined two 7th Circuit Court of Appeals opinions: one where a firing that was based on the employer’s mistaken belief didn’t violate FMLA and another where the mistake didn’t provide a defense.
“An employer may be entitled to summary judgment on a retaliation claim where, based on a mistaken belief, it terminated an employee for reasons unrelated to the employee’s protected activities. Yet an employer is not entitled to summary judgment where it based its motivation for terminating an employee, or at least a key component of it, on a mistaken belief that the employee was ineligible for the FMLA’s protection.