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School, former employee to go to mediation on FMLA claim

A former employee of the Kent Intermediate School District in Michigan and the school district have agreed to try to settle the employee's case by going through mediation. The employee, an early education coordinator with the district, alleges the district violated the federal Family Medical Leave Act by terminating her position.

According to the civil complaint filed by the employee, she took leave under FMLA in January 2014 due to needed hip surgery. She returned to her full time position on April 25. Upon her return, she alleges the school reduced her duties and then on May 12, told her they were terminating her position and not renewing her contract as a result. Her contract ended June 30.

The district contends that she was paid all wages owed and that her contract ended. The district also argues that a different position was offered to the woman but she declined it. The woman indicated the offered position was for less pay than the one the district ended. Although the parties are not required to reach a settlement in mediation, if an agreement is reached, the case will end. If no agreement is reached, the case will continue to trial as scheduled.

The FMLA allows covered employees to take up to 12 weeks of leave when necessitated by medical reasons. Upon the employee's return, the employer is to continue the worker's employment as it existed previous to the leave. Employers must hold the position until the worker returns. When an employer takes a retaliatory action because of the leave, such as termination, demotion or a reduction in hours, the employer may be in violation of the law. Through filing a claim, employees may be able to recover damages in addition to getting their jobs back.

Source: MLive, "Mediator named in school employee lawsuit alleging Kent ISD violated Family and Medical Leave Act", Monica Scott, December 27, 2014

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