Last week, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that an employee cannot establish a retaliation claim under the Family & Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”) if his employer honestly believed he abused his right to take time off under the FMLA.
Frederick Capps worked as a mixer for Mondelez Global, LLC. Mr. Capps suffers from Avascular Necrosis, a condition involving a “loss of blood flow, severely limiting oxygen and nutrient delivery to the bone and tissues, essentially suffocating and causing death of those cells.” As a result, Mr. Capps has arthritis in both hips and had double hip replacement surgery in 2004. He also periodically experiences severe pain that can last for weeks. Accordingly, he requested and Mondelez granted him an intermittent FMLA leave, meaning he could take time off when it was medically necessary.
On February 14, 2013, while he was on an FMLA leave, Mr. Capps went to a local pub for dinner and drinks. On his way home, he was arrested for drunk driving. He was released from jail the next morning, Friday, February 15, and took that day off as FMLA leave. He returned to work on Monday, February 18.