Court upholds dismissal of FMLA and Elliott Larson Civil Rights Act claim
In an unpublished decision, the Court of Appeals upheld a judge's decision against Angel Wolfgang, who claimed she was fired in retaliation for exercising her rights under the Family Medical Leave Act. She also claimed that she was a victim of gender discrimination. After a bench trial, the Saginaw Circuit Court judge had ruled that Wolfgang did not prove either of her allegations. The Court of Appeals affirmed.
Wolfgang's employer, Dixie Cut Stone and Marble, fired her 22 days after she returned to work from medical leave. During the pendency of her leave the employer had apparently written her threatening letters in an attempt to compel her return to work, and she alleged several instances of "direct" gender discrimination. Nevertheless, both courts concluded that her claim of disparate treatment had been rebutted by the employer's argument that she was fired for legitimate and legally permissible reasons ["repeated violation of defendant's policies" in the 22 days after she returned to work].
The Court found reasons to discount both the "isolated" improper statements of the supervisor who was involved in firing Wolfgang, and the testimony of her direct supervisor who agreed that her work received greater scrutiny than was given to the work of her male counterparts. It also found that her in-company transfer after she returned to work was "voluntary" and not punitive.