Bachelder v. America West Airlines
July 31, 2013
Penny Bachelder claims that her employer, America West Airlines, violated the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 when it terminated her in 1996 for poor attendance (Walsh, 2013). The district court granted partial summary judgment to America West, holding that Bachelder was not entitled to the Act’s protection for her 1996 absences (Walsh, 2013).
America West told Bachelder when it fired her that it based its decision on her sixteen absences since the January 1996 corrective action discussion (Walsh, 2013). If those absences were, in fact, covered by the Act, America West’s consideration of those absences as a “negative factor” in the firing decision violated the Act (Walsh, 2013). The regulations allow employers to choose among four methods for calculating their employees’ eligibility for FLMA leave, but they do not specifically state how an employer indicates its choice (Walsh, 2013). America West contends, correctly, that the FLMA’s implementing regulations do not expressly embody a requirement that employers inform their employees of their chosen method for calculating leave eligibility (Walsh, 2013). The regulations nonetheless plainly contemplate that the employer’s selection of one of the four calculation methods will be an open one, not a secret kept from the employees, the affected individuals (Walsh, 2013). This is where the airline made an error. The question remains whether America West adequately notified its employees that it had chosen the retroactive rolling “leave year” calculation method (Walsh, 2013). America West contends that, because its employee hand book states that “employees are entitled to up to twelve calendar weeks of unpaid FMLA leave within any twelve month period,” it provided sufficient notice to its employees that it uses the “rolling method” for calculating leave eligibility (Walsh, 2013).
Decisions adversely affecting employees on FMLA leave or recently...
References: Walsh, D. (2013). Employment law for human resource practice. (4th ed.). Mason: South-Western.
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