Kasey Roberts v. Gestamp West Virginia, LLC, No. 20-2202 (4th Cir. 2022)Annotate this Case
Plaintiff appealed the district court’s grant of summary judgment to his former employer, Gestamp West Virginia, LLC, on his Family & Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”) and common law retaliatory-discharge claims. Gestamp fired Plaintiff after he missed work due to a recurring infection from an emergency appendectomy. The district court granted Gestamp’s summary judgment motion because Plaintiff, it said, didn’t comply with the company’s “usual and customary” absentee notice procedures, as the FMLA requires. 29 C.F.R. Section 825.303(c).
On appeal, Plaintiff contends the district court erred because, through his dealings with Gestamp, the company’s “usual and customary” notice procedures for leaves of absence expanded beyond those in its written policy. And Plaintiff argues that he complied with his FMLA obligations by notifying Gestamp of his absences over Facebook Messenger, which the company had previously accepted.
The Fourth Circuit agreed with Plaintiff’s reading of the FMLA regulations and find that he’s raised a jury question on whether using Facebook Messenger satisfied the Act’s requirements. But Gestamp counters that even if Plaintiff’s initial notice were adequate, he neglected his FMLA obligation to update the company on the duration of his absence, defeating his FMLA-interference claim. On this too, Plaintiff has raised a material factual dispute to survive summary judgment. Thus, the court vacated the district court’s judgment on his interference claim and remand.
Finally the court agreed with Gestamp that the district court properly granted judgment against Plaintiff’s FMLA retaliation and common law retaliatory-discharge claims. Plaintiff hasn’t offered enough evidence that Gestamp fired him in retaliation for exercising his FMLA rights.