Thom. v. American Standard, Inc., No. 09-3507 (6th Cir. 2012)Annotate this Case
The company granted plaintiff leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act, listing a June 27 return date. The doctor cleared plaintiff for light work beginning on May 31 and set June 13 as the probable date for unrestricted work. On May 31, plaintiff was sent home because the company did not permit employees with non-work-related injuries to perform light duty work after leave. Plaintiff did not return on June 13 and told the company that he was experiencing pain and would return on June 27. He obtained a doctor's note, but the company counted June 13 to 17 as unexcused absence and terminated his employment. The district court ruled for plaintiff on a claim of FLMA interference (29 U.S.C. 2612(a)(1)(D)); awarded $99,960 in attorney fees, $2,732.90 in costs, and $104,354.85 in back pay; and ordered the company to change the termination date, for purposes of pension and retiree health benefits. The court denied statutory liquidated damages because it found that the company acted with reasonable grounds. The Sixth Circuit affirmed on the interference claim and reversed on the liquidated damages claim, noting the company's "obdurate refusal to correct an obvious mistake that constituted a wrongful discharge of a 36-year employee."