Pennsylvania employees may be interested in an out-of-state case that involves medical privacy and retaliation for taking medical leave. A Florida court says that an employee can proceed with his claim against his employer because his co-workers were told about his medical condition, and that could constitute interference with his medical leave or a retaliatory act for taking it.
The worker was granted medical leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act but says that he was made fun of by his co-workers after they were told of his medical condition by a manager at a staff meeting. A Florida district court rejected the employer’s effort to have the claim dismissed, stating that the employee’s right to confidentiality provided by FMLA was breached, and that that was enough to allow a claim of interference to proceed.
The court noted that this decision conflicts with the decisions of other district courts in similar cases, where revealing medical information about a worker was not found to be enough for an interference claim. Furthermore, the Florida court let the retaliation claim stand on the grounds that the ridicule the employer received from co-workers had an impact on his working condition, which is sufficient.
The FMLA and protections against retaliatory action by employers provide a double layer of protection for employees who need to take time off from work due to a personal or family member’s medical condition. People who feel that they have been unfairly treated when requesting FMLA leave or upon their return may want to discuss their situations with an employment law attorney and see what recourse may be available to them.