Fmla Leave Case Summary

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Bloom informs clinic of her pregnancy
HealthPartners employed Jennifer Bloom as a certified medical assistant at Coon Rapids Clinic from 2004 until 2012. Before her termination, she used FMLA leave twice for the birth of her two children.
In March 2012, Bloom learned that she was pregnant with her third child. Because she knew that two other employees at the clinic planned to take leave following the birth of their children at approximately the same time, Bloom informed her supervisor, Ruth Laine, about her pregnancy almost right away.
When Bloom informed her supervisor of her pregnancy and her future need for FMLA leave, Laine allegedly responded by saying, "I thought you were done having kids." Bloom also believed that Laine's tone and body
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Moreover, it discovered that she visited the clinic on three occasions during her leave and took clinic supplies home after each visit. Because her conduct violated its code of conduct, the clinic decided to terminate her employment after conducting an investigation. Additionally, there was no evidence that the clinic knowingly tolerated similar conduct by other employees.
The court agreed with the clinic, stating that Bloom shouldn't be "shielded" from the consequences for her misconduct simply because she was on FMLA leave. In light of the overwhelming evidence that she took the samples, the clinic's decision to terminate her in the middle of her FMLA leave didn't raise a question of fact about whether her termination was related to her use of FMLA leave. Thus, the court granted the clinic summary judgment on the interference claim. Bloom v. Group Health Plan, Inc., Case No. 12-3060 (MJD/JJG) (D. Minn., Aug. 13, 2014).
Bottom line
Employers aren't prohibited from disciplining employees while they are on FMLA leave as long as the leave isn't the reason for the discipline. Simply put, FMLA leave cannot be used as a shield to deflect warranted discipline.
Krista J. Griffith and Lynn Mueller, editors of Minnesota Employment Law Letter, can be reached at kgriffith@felhaber.com or

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