Lutes v. United Trailers, Inc., No. 19-1579 (7th Cir. 2020)Annotate this Case
Phillips injured his ribs while playing with his grandchildren. For two weeks, he called his employer, United, to report he would miss work. Phillips stopped calling in and did not appear for work on three consecutive days so United fired him. He sued, alleging United failed to properly notify him of his rights under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), 29 U.S.C. 2617, and that he was fired in retaliation for attempting to exercise his right to seek FMLA leave.
The Seventh Circuit affirmed the rejection of the retaliation claim but remanded Phillips’s interference claim. A reasonable jury could find that Phillips’s injury constituted a serious health condition. If United failed to train its personnel to recognize FMLA-qualifying leave, that may factor into deciding whether Phillips provided sufficient notice of his need for leave. A jury must decide the factual question of whether the nature and amount of information he conveyed put United on notice and required United to notify Phillips whether the leave would be designated as FMLA leave. His wife attested had Phillips known United offered FMLA leave, he would have taken it. Other than that, the record does not reflect whether Phillips would have acted differently had United provided the requisite information Even if Phillips engaged in a protected activity and United took adverse employment action against him, Phillips failed to establish any causal connection between his alleged attempt to seek FMLA relief and his discharge.
This opinion or order relates to an opinion or order originally issued on January 27, 2020.