Employment-Eighth Circuit Rules That Plaintiff Has Established A Case of Interference Under The FMLA

December 7, 2012

In Clinkscale v. St. Therese of New Hope, No. 12-1223 (8th Cir. 2012), the plaintiff, Ruby Clinkscale ("Clinkscale"), was appealing the district court's grant of summary judgment to her former employer, St. Therese of New Hope ("St. Therese"), stemming from the termination of her employment by St. Therese.

In analyzing this case, the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals (the "Court") noted that Clinkscale-by producing a physician's diagnosis of incapacity for one full week, accompanied by two prescriptions for medication and an advised course of ongoing therapy- established that she has a serious health condition for purposes of the Family and Medical Leave Act (the "FMLA"). As such, the district court had only to determine whether Clinkscale could establish a prima facie case of interference with her FMLA rights.

The Court then said that, to state a claim for interference under the FMLA, Clinkscale must have given notice to St. Therese of her need for FMLA leave. After reviewing the record, the Court concluded that a reasonable jury could conclude that Clinkscale satisfied the FMLA's notice requirement by providing notice of her need for medical leave to St. Therese as soon as was practicable or, in the alternative, that Clinkscale had been terminated for taking such leave when a serious health condition unexpectedly prevented her from fulfilling her work assignment. Thus, Clinkscale could establish an interference claim. Accordingly, the Court reversed the district court's summary judgment, and remanded that case back to the district court.