The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals has reversed a district court finding of summary judgment in the employer’s favor in Demyanovich v. Cadon Plating & Coatings et al., concluding that Cadon Plating may be a covered employer under the FMLA based on its relationship with an affiliated company and that its termination of an employee almost immediately after he requested FMLA leave may have violated both the FMLA and ADA.
Alan Demyanovich worked for Cadon Plating & Coatings for over 20 years as a helper, operator, and an area leader. In late 1998, Demyanovich experienced health problems. His doctor diagnosed him with congestive heart failure. Demyanovich took 2-1/2 months of FMLA leave due in early 1999 and was cleared to return to work with two restrictions. Demyanovich was not to lift more than 50 lbs. and was not to work more than 40 hours per week.
Over the next 10 years, Demyanovich took FMLA leave several times for his heart and other medical reasons. In November of 2009, Demyanovich’s heart condition worsened, so he again requested FMLA leave. Demyanovich returned in mid-December with the same two restrictions. His physician also stated he was not to work overtime indefinitely. Around that same time, Demyanovich requested he be given lighter duty assignments, including switching to a sorting position, which would allow him to sit while working, or assigning him to a position at the end of the plant line, where he would not need to move as quickly. Cadon denied these requests and continued to schedule Demyanovich to work overtime.
Demyanovich went to his doctor again in February of 2010, during which time his doctor allegedly told him he should quit work and apply for social security disability benefits. In spite of that advice, Demyanovich returned to Cadon and requested FMLA leave. Al Ensign, Cadon’s Vice President, denied Demyanovich’s leave request, stating he believed Cadon did not have enough employees to be subject to the FMLA. Mr. Demyanovich also alleges Mr. Ensign informed him he no longer had enough points under Cadon’s attendance policy to take additional absences and called him a liability. Mr. Ensign terminated Mr. Demyanovich from employment in or around February 23 or 24th.
Demyanovich Files Suit
Demyanovich sued Cadon and Ensign in federal district court in December of 2010. His amended complaint included allegations of FMLA interference, FMLA retaliation, disability discrimination, and ADA retaliation. Cadon moved for summary judgment, which the district court granted.
The district court provided the following reasoning:
- Demyanovich was not an eligible employee under the Act, because he did not show he would have been able to work after the end of his 12-week FMLA leave.
- Cadon did not have to accommodate him by modifying his work schedule or permitting him to take leave;
- Demyanovich could not work in any capacity; and
- Demyanovich failed to create a genuine issue of fact as to his FMLA retaliation claim,
- Demyanovich could not prove his ADA discrimination or retaliation claims because he was not a “qualified individual;” and
- The evidence unquestionably showed that Demyanovich was incapable of performing any job.
The court did, however, recognize a question of material fact remained whether Cadon was a covered employer under the FMLA.
The Sixth Circuit Disagrees
Demyanovich appealed to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. The court ultimately reversed the district court’s ruling regarding the FMLA interference claim, FMLA retaliation, and the ADA claim.