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gessling By Joshua B. Gessling

Finding that the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals had not previously addressed the issue, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana recently held that a pre-eligibility request for post-eligibility leave may be protected under the Family and Medical Leave Act.

In Morkoetter v. Sonoco Products Co., No. 3:11-CV-485 (N.D. Ind. Mar. 29, 2013), the employee alleged that he informed his employer of his disabilities and plans to take time away from work after he became eligible for leave under the FMLA. The employee alleged that after informing his employer of the need for post-eligibility leave, but approximately five weeks before reaching his eligibility date, the employer terminated his employment. The employee claimed the employer fired him because of his pre-eligibility request for post-eligibility leave in violation of the FMLA. The employer moved to dismiss. Because the employee had not worked for the employer for 12 months and, consequently, was not yet eligible for FMLA leave, the employer argued the employee’s termination did not constitute retaliation.

Relying heavily upon the rationale in Pereda v. Brookdale Senior Living Cmty., Inc., 666 F.3d 1269 (11th Cir. 2012), the court denied the employer’s motion to dismiss the FMLA claim and held that termination based upon a pre-eligibility request for post-eligibility leave may constitute a viable retaliation claim under the FMLA. Since the FMLA requires that employees provide employers with notice of foreseeable future leave, the court reasoned that the aims of the FMLA would be compromised if employees were required to provide notice of future leave while remaining exposed to retaliation for complying with the law.

Given this growing trend, employers should be mindful that certain pre-eligibility requests may be protected under the FMLA, reassess internal policies in light of this development, and administer leave requests accordingly.•

Mr. Gessling is an associate at Kahn Dees Donovan & Kahn LLP in Evansville. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author.


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  1. I have a degree at law, recent MS in regulatory studies. Licensed in KS, admitted b4 S& 7th circuit, but not to Indiana bar due to political correctness. Blacklisted, nearly unemployable due to hostile state action. Big Idea: Headwinds can overcome, esp for those not within the contours of the bell curve, the Lego Movie happiness set forth above. That said, even without the blacklisting for holding ideas unacceptable to the Glorious State, I think the idea presented above that a law degree open many vistas other than being a galley slave to elitist lawyers is pretty much laughable. (Did the law professors of Indiana pay for this to be published?)

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  3. Joe, you might want to do some reading on the fate of Hoosier whistleblowers before you get your expectations raised up.

  4. I had a hospital and dcs caseworker falsify reports that my child was born with drugs in her system. I filed a complaint with the Indiana department of health....and they found that the hospital falsified drug screens in their investigation. Then I filed a complaint with human health services in Washington DC...dcs drug Testing is unregulated and is indicating false positives...they are currently being investigated by human health services. Then I located an attorney and signed contracts one month ago to sue dcs and Anderson community hospital. Once the suit is filed I am taking out a loan against the suit and paying a law firm to file a writ of mandamus challenging the courts jurisdiction to invoke chins case against me. I also forwarded evidence to a u.s. senator who contacted hhs to push an investigation faster. Once the lawsuit is filed local news stations will be running coverage on the situation. Easy day....people will be losing their jobs soon...and judge pancol...who has attempted to cover up what has happened will also be in trouble. The drug testing is a kids for cash and federal funding situation.

  5. (A)ll (C)riminals (L)ove (U)s is up to their old, "If it's honorable and pro-American, we're against it," nonsense. I'm not a big Pence fan but at least he's showing his patriotism which is something the left won't do.