If You Don’t Have Anything Nice to Say, …

Randi Klein Hyatt
Randi Klein Hyatt

Well, you know the rest.  Unfortunately, a management-level employee in Florida perhaps doesn’t.  In Holtrey v. Collier County Board of County Commissioners,  an employee developed a chronic and serious problem with his genito-urinary system.  He consequently applied for, and was granted, leave pursuant to the Family and Medical Leave Act.  In doing so, he disclosed to his employer sensitive medical information, which a management-level employee promptly disclosed to the plaintiff’s coworkers.  According to the plaintiff, these coworkers proceeded to make jokes and obscene gestures, which management failed to remedy.

Plaintiff sued and alleged interference and retaliation based on violations of the FMLA’s confidentiality provision.  The employer, not surprisingly, moved to dismiss plaintiff’s claims.  The Court noted that while it is not clear whether the FMLA’s confidentiality provision creates a private cause of action, plaintiff did state sufficient facts to allow the claims to proceed.  Should these claims survive a motion for summary judgment, it is hard to imagine that a jury will not sympathize with the plaintiff.  Sometimes it helps to listen to that little voice in your head and keep your comments to yourself.

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