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Former Ford employee FMLA fees reintroduced



A former Ford Motor Co. employee did not file his family and medical leave allegations against the company too late, a federal appeals court said on Monday as he reinstated the allegations and overturned a lower court decision.

For the first year and a half Malik Weatherly worked as an assembly line worker at a Ford Motor Co. plant, the company excused him from working days when he suffered from asthma complications, according to the ruling of the Eighth U.S. District Court in St. Louis. Louis Malik Weatherly v. Ford Motor Co.

But about a week after Weatherly submitted paperwork to Ford seeking intermittent leave under the FMLA, he was suspended for 30 days due to a lack of work, according to Ford. He quit less than a year later, after missing work on asthma complications, the judges said.

A few months after Weatherly filed charges with the Missouri Commission on Human Rights and the US Equal Employment Commission, Ford hired him, but for a more physically demanding position.

When Mr. Weatherly informed his supervisor that his new duties exacerbated his scoliosis and one day arrived to work with medically recommended physical limitations, Ford terminated him again, and Mr. Weatherly submitted additional fees to the State Commission and the EEOC.

Mr. Weatherly sued Ford at the U.S. District Court in Kansas City, Missouri, accusing him of violating the FMLA and the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The U.S. District Court dismissed all charges and argued in the case of the FMLA allegations that Mr. Weatherly had submitted them too late.

A panel of three judges upheld the dismissal of the ADA charges, but reintroduced the FMLA charge.

The FMLA allows eligible employees to take up to two weeks of unpaid leave during a 1

2-month period to deal with a serious health condition, the decision states.

The limitation period for an FMLA claim is two years for ordinary violations and three years for intentional and Weatherly did not bring an action until about one month after the second anniversary of his suspension.

The district court said that he had submitted these claims too late because he had not stated his intention. "It may well be that Weatherly's allegations of intent … do not reasonably claim that Ford committed intentional FMLA violations," the decision said.

"But we do not have to reach that question. The important thing is that Weatherly's complaint does not appeal to him out of court by finding that the alleged infringements were not intentional.

“The complaint leaves enough ground from which evidence of willpower can grow; "There may be evidence that Ford's failure to establish and enforce certain guidelines or implement certain training was intentional rather than negligent," it said.

At the appeal stage, "Weatherly has stated all that the law requires," the verdict said, by reinstating the FMLA allegations and withdrawing the case for further negotiation.

A lawyer for Mr. Weatherly, Joshua P. Wunderlich, a senior assistant at Cornerstone Law Firm in Kansas City, Missouri, said in a statement, “We are pleased with the court's decision and look forward to the opportunity to continue working to justify our client's district court rights.

Ford's attorney did not respond to a request for comment.

A federal appeals court ruled earlier this month that a domestic worker who injured his knee and was fired after failing a service test may be entitled to sick leave under the FMLA.

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