The United States District Court for the District of Columbia recently denied a Hospital’s motion to dismiss a Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”) retaliation claim by a senior officer because of the close time proximity between a protest of alleged discriminatory treatment of a co-worker and the protester’s own discharge. Lott v. Not-For-Profit Hospital Corporation. The Court held that plaintiff’s meeting with the Hospital’s CEO to discuss his belief that the co-worker’s termination violated the FMLA, could be considered protected “oppositional conduct.” In light of the close timing between the oppositional conduct and termination, the Court allowed the FMLA retaliation claim to proceed.
Employers should be mindful of potential retaliation claims when an employee engages in protected activity before taking adverse action. To mitigate risk, the basis for any such adverse action should be well documented.