In deciding whether a plaintiff has made out a case of unlawful workplace retaliation, the federal courts will often look to the time frame that elapses between the plaintiff’s protected activity and the alleged discriminatory act. Although not necessarily determinative, the closer the “temporal proximity” between the two, the more likely the court will give weight to the plaintiff’s claims.
As is the case with other federal laws prohibiting unlawful retaliation, such claims brought under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) often depend on evidence that the protected activity and the adverse employment action occurred very close in time to each other. Thus, the determination of when the court concludes the protected activity occurred can be critical.
In a recent decision that addresses that question, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit ruled in Jones v. Gulf Coast Health Care, No. 16-11142 (11th Cir. April 19, 2017), that the correct method for determining temporal proximity under the FMLA is to measure from the end of the leave period, not from the date on which the employee requested FMLA leave or when leave began.
A copy of the Eleventh Circuit’s decision in Jones v. Gulf Coast Health Care can be found here.
Members of the Equal Employment Advisory Council (EEAC) can read more here.