CHICAGO (CN) – A Sheboygan County, Wis., employee who was fired two weeks before taking medical leave can take her case to a jury, the 7th Circuit determined.
After working for the county for 20 years, Dorothy Goelzer was fired in 2006 just before she was schedule to take a two-month leave of absence for foot surgery.
The county claimed it wanted to hire a more skilled worker, but Goelzer said she was fired in retaliation for taking too much family and medical leave. Goelzer, her mother and husband all had health issues that required Goelzer to take time off.
She sued the county and her boss, coordinator Adam Payne, claiming they violated the Family and Medical Leave Act and discriminated against her.
The district court granted the county’s motion for summary judgment, but the 7th Circuit in Chicago reversed and reinstated the case.
“Although the defendants disclaim any causal connection between Goelzer’s requests for and use of FMLA leave and her firing, we conclude that a jury could find otherwise,” Judge Ann Williams wrote.
Goelzer received nothing but positive performance reviews, though Payne claimed they reflected his “lowered expectations” of her abilities.
“In short, we are left with two competing accounts, either of which a jury could believe,” Williams concluded.