Employment-Seventh Circuit Rules That Plaintiff May Proceed With Interference and Retaliation Claim Under the FMLA

In Goelzer v. Sheboygan County, Wisconsin, No. 07 C 451 (7th Circuit 2010), plaintiff Dorothy Goelzer was fired from her job with the county government. Her supervisor had informed her of the termination two weeks before she was scheduled to begin two months of leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”). She had taken FMLA leave a number of times before. After being fired, Goelzer brought this suit, alleging that her employer had violated the FMLA by interfering with her right to reinstatement under the FMLA and retaliating against her for taking FMLA leave.

The District Court granted summary judgment against Goelzer. However, the Seventh Circuit Court concluded that Goelzer had furnished enough evidence for her case to reach a trier of fact, and therefore reversed the summary judgment. The Court based its decision on comments suggesting Goelzer’s supervisor’s dissatisfaction with her prior use of FMLA leave, her positive performance reviews, and the timing of her termination, just two weeks before the FMLA leave was to begin. This evidence could allow a jury to find that Goelzer’s employer had violated the FMLA, as Goelzer had alleged.