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7th Circuit rules on FMLA case

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The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals has reversed a medical-leave decision from an Indianapolis judge who's since joined that appellate bench.

In Steven Peters v. Gilead Sciences, Inc., No. 06-4290, the three-judge panel reversed and remanded the case involving a Family and Medical Leave Act claim. Steven Peters had worked for the pharmaceutical company since 2001 and worked from his home in Indianapolis, marketing products to doctors and healthcare professionals. He injured his neck and shoulder and eventually filed an injury claim in 2002, and then had surgery and took time off from work starting in December 2002.

Eventually, the company decided to replace Peters in April 2003 and Peters sued in federal court on FMLA claims and state claims. The company argued that Peters wasn't eligible for FMLA based on a provision that excluded workers at worksites with less than 50 employees, but Peters argued that he didn't receive the 12 weeks he was required and Gilead was estopped because of employee handbook guidelines detailing the time off.

Judge John D. Tinder, who has since joined the 7th Circuit, concluded that Peters had not established the elements of equitable estoppel and granted summary judgment for Gilead.

The 7th Circuit wrote that Judge Tinder didn't address whether Gilead's promises are actionable as a contract or under promissory estoppel, though it pointed out that it was understandable because the parties focused arguments on a different aspect of the law and the equitable estoppel theory as a means of establishing eligibility under FMLA.

"As we have explained, however, using equitable estoppel to block an employer from asserting a statutory defense to the FMLA liability is not the same as using promissory estoppel to enforce a promise by an employer to allow 12 weeks of medical leave," Judge Diane Sykes wrote. "Promissory estoppel is a well-established state-law remedy; on the other hand, the availability of equitable estoppel to block a statutory defense to FMLA eligibility has been assumed but not decided in this circuit. We think the prudent course is to remand this case for consideration of Gilead's liability under state law."

She added that the leave provisions in Gilead's employee handbook may be enforceable as a contract under Indiana law, and at the least, are promises giving rise to recovery under promissory estoppel.

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  1. Andrew, you are a whistleblower against an ideologically corrupt system that is also an old boys network ... Including old gals .... You are a huge threat to them. Thieves, liars, miscreants they understand, identify with, coddle. But whistleblowers must go to the stake. Burn well my friend, burn brightly, tyger.

  2. VSB dismissed the reciprocal discipline based on what Indiana did to me. Here we have an attorney actually breaking ethical rules, dishonest behavior, and only getting a reprimand. I advocated that this supreme court stop discriminating against me and others based on disability, and I am SUSPENDED 180 days. Time to take out the checkbook and stop the arrogant cheating to hurt me and retaliate against my good faith efforts to stop the discrimination of this Court. www.andrewstraw.org www.andrewstraw.net

  3. http://www.andrewstraw.org http://www.andrewstraw.net If another state believes by "Clear and convincing evidence" standard that Indiana's discipline was not valid and dismissed it, it is time for Curtis Hill to advise his clients to get out the checkbook. Discrimination time is over.

  4. Congrats Andrew, your street cred just shot up. As for me ... I am now an administrative law judge in Kansas, commissioned by the Governor to enforce due process rights against overreaching government agents. That after being banished for life from the Indiana bar for attempting to do the same as a mere whistleblowing bar applicant. The myth of one lowly peasant with the constitution does not play well in the Hoosier state. As for what our experiences have in common, I have good reason to believe that the same ADA Coordinator who took you out was working my file since 2007, when the former chief justice hired the same, likely to "take out the politically incorrect trash" like me. My own dealings with that powerful bureaucrat and some rather astounding actions .. actions that would make most state courts blush ... actions blessed in full by the Ind.S.Ct ... here: https://www.scribd.com/doc/299040839/2016Petitionforcert-to-SCOTUS

  5. I presented my defense against discipline to the Virginia State Bar this morning and the 26-member Board of Discipline 100% rejected what Indiana has done to me, including what Ahler did. Discipline DISMISSED.

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