The United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit recently overruled a decision by the United States District Court for the Northern District of Iowa involving a worker and his rights under FMLA. Delbert Hudson worked for Tyson Fresh Meats, Inc. in 2011. He took a few days off at the end of December 2011 and notified his supervisor through his girlfriend and co-worker. Hudson obtained medical treatment and received a doctor's note to be off of work for the preceding week and the week following. Hudson intended to apply for leave for these absences under FMLA, but the application indicated that he checked the "non-FMLA leave" box. Based on his absences and his supervisor's belief that he did not properly call in to report taking days off, Tyson terminated Hudson.
Hudson sued based on a claim of interference with his FMLA rights and that Tyson discriminated against him for taking FMLA leave. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of Tyson. Hudson appealed to the 8th Circuit arguing that Tyson violated his FMLA rights by classifying his leave as non-FMLA and failing to restore him to his position upon returning to work. The 8th Circuit reversed the summary judgment ruling in favor of Tyson, holding that the district court must consider the issues presented to it. It stated that "assuming Hudson engaged in protected activity, he presents a prima facie case of discrimination." The issues are for the court to decide on remand, but the 8th Circuit made it clear that whether Hudson's termination was retaliatory related to FMLA should be more closely examined and indicated there were many facts that may lead to believe that Tyson acted wrongfully.
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