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Judy Greenwald

Firm's lack of written policies grounds for reinstating pregnancy suit

February 4, 2014 - 3:20pm


A security firm's failure to have any written policies and procedures in place for issues including the Family and Medical Leave Act was cited by an appellate court in reinstating a pregnancy discrimination lawsuit.

Tabitha L. Clements was working as a security guard for Detroit-based Prudential Protective Services L.L.C. in 2009 when she gave notice of her pregnancy and began Family and Medical Leave Act leave, according to Monday's ruling by the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati in Telitha L. Clements v. Prudential Protective Services L.L.C.

While she informed her supervisor about the leave, neither he nor Ms. Clements contacted Prudential's main office about it. Prudential did not provide its employees with information regarding the Family and Medical Leave Act other than referring workers to the act's text if they inquired about it, and the presence of a wall poster at certain locations, where the guards signed in and out for their shifts, according to the ruling.

In August 2009, after she requested that she be put back on the schedule, Ms. Clements received a lay-off letter, according to the ruling. She filed suit against the company, challenging violations of the Family and Medical Leave Act in connection with her pregnancy leave.

A federal court in Detroit granted Prudential summary judgment dismissing the case, holding that Ms. Clements did not suffer any prejudice as a result of any failure by the firm to provide notice procedures as required by the act.

'Virtually nothing' in the way of policies

A three-judge panel of the 6th Circuit panel disagreed. The record “is unclear and creates uncertainty about whether plaintiff suffered prejudice as to her right under the act to return to her previous post or an equivalent position,” said the ruling.

The record is also unsettled on the question of Ms. Clement's reassignment and why she was placed on layoff status, said the ruling.

“Even a cursory review of the record reveals that defendant had virtually nothing in the way of written policies and procedures for any aspect of its business,” said the panel. The record is also “full of inconsistent statements” from the defendant's employees with respect to Ms. Clement's situation, it states.

“In light of this lack of clarity and the failure of defendant to give its employees notice of how to proceed upon completion of leave under the act, we do not believe that summary judgment for defendant is appropriate,” said the 6th Circuit in remanding the case to the federal court for further proceedings.

 



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