Judge grants Mars Petcare’s motion for summary judgment in FMLA suit

By Jim Tyrrell | Jul 12, 2018

KANSAS CITY — The U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri, Western Division, recently granted Mars Petcare’s motion for summary judgment in a suit alleging Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) interference and retaliation.

On June 28, Senior Judge Ortrie Smith ruled that Mars Petcare’s termination of the plaintiff, Maurice Hall, did not violate the FMLA or worker’s compensation laws.

Hall suffered a hip injury while playing basketball outside of work, which resulted in him taking medical leave. Upon returning to his job, Hall was placed on a different shift, as staff restructuring eliminated the shift he worked on before his injury. Shortly after returning to work, he aggravated his injury while performing job-related duties. He notified his supervisor of the injury, but never filed a worker’s compensation claim for the injury.

Mars Petcare later terminated the plaintiff, claiming Hall had exceeded the allotted number of attendance incidents.

Hall alleged Mars Petcare violated the FMLA by changing his shift and placing him on the overnight shift. Mars Petcare countered this claim by providing evidence that Hall would have been placed on the overnight shift, regardless of his FMLA leave, as his coworkers had more tenure.

The court ruled that Hall’s FMLA interference claim was unfounded. 

“Due to the shift restructuring, Hall’s shift would have changed even if he had not taken FMLA leave,” Smith said in his ruling.

Hall argued that sustaining a work-related injury and notifying a supervisor of the injury established an exercise of rights under worker’s compensation law. While he did receive medical treatment for the injury sustained on the job, he did not visit a physician approved by Mars Petcare. Hall also failed to file a worker’s compensation claim with the company.

Smith granted the motion for summary judgment in favor of Mars Petcare as the plaintiff could not produce evidence that he was terminated due to worker’s compensation retaliation.

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