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You're Fired! Legitimate Corporate Restructuring Is an Appropriate Reason to Terminate an Employee Shortly After FMLA Leave

This report relates to 1 case(s)

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    Williams v. Sterling Healthcare Servs., 193 Fed. Appx. 328 (5th Cir. 2006) (0 other reports)

Author: Shannon C. Johnson

In Williams v. Sterling Healthcare Services, Inc., +193 Fed. Appx. 328 (5th Cir. 2005), the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals addressed whether the employer's legitimate corporate restructuring could justify its decision to terminate an employee four days after she returned from authorized FMLA leave.

The FMLA guarantees employees 12 weeks of unpaid leave for qualifying events such as childbirth. FMLA and Title VII retaliation claims require the plaintiff to make an evidentiary showing of retaliation and discrimination, respectively. If the plaintiff makes a proper showing, the burden shifts to the employer to provide a legitimate, non-discriminatory reason for the termination. If so, the burden then shifts back to the plaintiff to prove that the employer's justification was mere pretext for retaliation or discrimination.

In this case, the 5th Circuit court upheld the lower court's decision to grant summary judgment to the employer. The court found that Williams failed to present sufficient evidence to rebut Sterling's legitimate, non-discriminatory reasons for terminating her employment.