If this was August 2017, I would be touting today’s post as a strong contender for the “Worst Employer of the Year.” It says a lot, however, about the quality (moral suckitude?) of this year’s nominees that today’s post can’t even scratch 2018’s list of nominees.
We don’t have Wegmans in Cleveland. And if you don’t have one where you live, let me just say that it is the pinnacle of the supermarket shopping experience. In addition to offering a wonderful experience for its customers, it’s also supposed to offer an A-plus experience for its employees. In fact, according to Fortune Magazine, it’s the number 2 best company for which to work for 2018. 94% of its employees say that it is “honest and ethical” and that they are “proud to tell others” they work there. Pretty high praise.
I’m going to guess that Jordan Bartman, who worked in the Northborough, Massachusetts, Wegmans, is among the store’s six-percent minority of employee naysayers.
She recently filed suit against her ex-employer, alleging that when she requested FMLA leave for chronic depression and anxiety, her manager told her to “suck it up,” and chastised her for being a “burden to all the kitchen staff.” She claims that the more she was harassed and singled out, the more her condition worsened, which in turn led to a greater need for leave, and even more harassment. Ultimately she was fired for “chronic absences, tardiness, and failure to follow [call-in] procedures.”
Caveat. I’ve taken these facts from Bartman’s lawsuit. Wegmans has not yet answered, or otherwise had an opportunity to tell its side of the story.
Nevertheless, if you tell an employee to “suck it up” after she requests FMLA leave, you have almost certainly violated the FMLA.
This post originally appeared on the Ohio Employer’s Law Blog, and was written by Jon Hyman, Partner, Meyers, Roman, Friedberg & Lewis. Jon can be reached at via email at firstname.lastname@example.org, via telephone at 216-831-0042, on LinkedIn, and on Twitter.