2. Family Medical Leave Act Claim
The Family Medical Leave Act entitles an eligible employee to take up to twelve weeks of unpaid leave in a twelve month period because of the birth of a child. Following a qualified leave, an employee is entitled to reinstatement of his or her former position, or to an equivalent position with the same pay, benefits and employments terms. 29 U.S.C. 2641(a). The statute makes it an unlawful practice for an employer to "interfere with, restrain, or deny the exercise of . . . any right" by the employee under that Act. 29 U.S.C. 2615 (a)(1). In addition, the employer cannot discharge or discriminate against an employee who opposes any unlawful acts under the FMLA. 29 U.S.C. 2615(a)(2). Plaintiff asserts that Defendants discriminated against Plaintiff for attempting to exercise her right to pregnancy leave benefits under the FMLA by terminating her employment one day before she was to begin her pregnancy leave. Alternatively, Plaintiff's claim is that she exercised her right to a pregnancy leave under the FMLA, and then was terminated, in violation of her right to reinstatement following leave.
Courts have used the Title VII analysis in determining summary judgment motions in cases brought under the FMLA, and have applied the McDonnell Douglas burden shifting approach to such claims. Oswalt v. Sara Lee Corp., 889 F. Supp. 253, 259 (N.D. Miss. 1995), aff'd, 74 F.3d 91 (1996); Garcia v. Fulbright & Jaworski, 1996 LEXIS 17084 (S.D. Texas 1996)); McCown v. UOP, Inc., 1995 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 12655 (N.D. Ill. 1995); Day v. Excel Corp., 1996 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 8269 (D. Kansas 1996).
The Court has performed this analysis with respect to Plaintiff's claim under the Human Rights Law, and found that a material issue of fact has been raised with respect to whether the nondiscriminatory reasons for termination proffered by the Defendants were false, and that the employee's pregnancy, or her attempt to assert her rights under the FMLA, were the real reasons for the discharge. Accordingly, Defendants' motion for summary judgment on the FMLA claim must be denied.
Therefore, after carefully considering the record, the papers submitted by counsel, counsel's arguments, and the relevant law, it is hereby
ORDERED that Defendants' motion for summary judgment is GRANTED in part and DENIED in part. Summary judgment is GRANTED with respect to Plaintiff's claims for breach of contract, breach of implied contract, and breach of implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, and those claims are DISMISSED. Summary judgment is DENIED with respect to Plaintiff's claims under the Human Rights Law and the Family Medical Leave Act. It is further
ORDERED that Plaintiff's cross motion for summary judgment is DENIED.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
DATED: June 12, 1997
Syracuse, New York
Frederick J. Scullin, Jr.
United States District Judge