Sixth Circuit Affirms District Court’s Grant of Summary Judgment For Employer On Plaintiff’s Claim of Associational Discrimination Under ADA; Dispute Regarding Due Date For Plaintiff’s Return to Work From Family Medical Leave Was Immaterial As Plaintiff Admitted She Would Not Have Returned To Work On Date She Asserted She Was Due Back

The Sixth Circuit recently affirmed that a plaintiff’s failure to return to work from a family medical leave on the due date established by her employer justified summary judgment in favor of the employer on the employee’s claim of associational discrimination under the ADA.  The plaintiff’s dispute as to her return date was immaterial, and did not prevent summary judgment for the employer, because plaintiff admitted in deposition that she would not have returned by the date she asserted she was due back at work.  Bimberg v. Elkton-Pigeon- Bay Port Laker Schools, 6th Cir. No. 12-1311, 2013 WL 174289 (Jan. 17, 2013).

Plaintiff Bimberg was a school bus driver who took a family medical leave to care for her terminally ill husband.  Bimberg’s employer initially granted her the FMLA-mandated 12 weeks of unpaid leave.  Therafter, Bimberg’s union representative was able to secure for her leave from the beginning of the approaching new school semester, January 5, 2009, until the end of the school year in early June 2009.  However, Bimberg later determined that she needed to leave before the start of the new semester, and that she would be away for more than 12 weeks.  Ultimately, her employer granted her unpaid leave of one year, from December 18, 2008, through December 18, 2009.

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