Chicago Partners Jason Tremblay, Paul Starkman, and Jenifer Caracciolo, recently obtained a significant victory on behalf of a global travel technology company. The client was sued by a former employee for gender and disability discrimination, as well as retaliation, after the employee was terminated for his violation of the company’s medical leave policy.
As a matter of background, the employee was involved in a motorcycle accident outside of work that required him to take a short-term disability leave of absence. While the company did not object to his request for short-term disability leave, under the company’s policy, the employee was required to submit documentation outlining the nature of the injuries, the anticipated duration and the approximate date the employee was expected to return to work. Despite repeatedly requesting, both orally and in writing, such documentation from the employee for over a month, the employee failed to submit any medical documentation until after the decision had been made to terminate his employment. And, the medical documentation that the employee did eventually produce to the client after he was notified of his termination actually cleared him to return to work a week before he was terminated. After extensive discovery, we moved for summary judgment on behalf of the client, which the Court recently granted in our client’s favor on all of the employee’s claims.
This is a significant victory because it reinforces a growing line of cases within the Seventh Circuit and elsewhere that an employee’s failure to follow a company’s policies with respect to taking a leave of absence will limit or bar a subsequent claim by the employee that they were unlawfully terminated.