Thursday, December 12, 2019

Just because you’re out on FMLA does not grant you a license to threaten your co-workers

“Hey pussy … I’m going to get you for what you did.”

Ordinarily, if one employee confronts another employee with a threat like the one above, you’d consider it grounds for termination. Maurice Darby, however, claimed that the fact that he made the threat while out on FMLA leave constituted grounds for retaliation after his employer terminated him.

In Darby v. Temple Univ., the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals had little difficulty in concluding that an employee’s FMLA leave does not justify a threat made during the leave.

Johnston states that he terminated Darby because, while on leave, Darby came on to the campus and threatened David Chesney, a fellow employee. Johnston’s decision to terminate Darby followed an investigation that examined video evidence of the event, interviews of all involved, and a determination that Darby’s conduct violated University policy. Darby’s attempt to undermine Johnston’s decision as pretext relied on comparing this investigation to an earlier investigation Temple conducted when Darby complained that Chesney had improperly touched him. Darby characterizes the investigation of his complaint as rushed and inadequate compared to their investigation of him. Again, his position relies on unfounded suspicions and unsupported statements. It is completely insufficient to establish pretext.

It's always nice to be able to report on a common sense decision for a common sense termination.

* Photo by Crawford Jolly on Unsplash