Fired telecommunications worker sues former employer for retaliation

Jon Campisi Feb. 29, 2012, 6:31am

A Bucks County, Pa. man who alleges he was fired from his job at a telecommunications company because he took time off work to care for his ailing child has filed a complaint against the business in federal court.

Philadelphia attorney Samuel Dion filed the lawsuit Feb. 27 at the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania on behalf of Warminster resident Walter Berry.

The defendant named in the lawsuit is Warrington, Pa.-based Blair Park Services, doing business as Quanta Services.

The complaint alleges that Berry was fired from his job as a telecom technician in early November 2011 for taking time off to care for his son, who had chronic health problems.

Berry, who began working for the company in June 1998, claims that his firing violated the Family and Medical Leave Act.

According to the complaint, Berry took intermittent days off to care for his sick son between January 2011 and September 2011.

Berry had notified his supervisors on “several occasions” of his need to take sporadic time off to take his son for doctor’s appointments and to care for the boy when his illness resulted in “incapacitation.”

The lawsuit claims that during that eight-month time period, Berry was never asked by company officials to complete a certification for FMLA leave despite his “clear expressed intent to take intermittent leave as defined by the FMLA.”

The suit claims that the days Berry missed work between January and September 2011 were FMLA protected and did not exceed 12 weeks.

On Sept. 9, 2011, the suit states, Berry’s supervisor advised the plaintiff that his attendance was considered to be “unsatisfactory due to excessive unplanned absenteeism,” and that he failed to follow procedure for calling out of work.

The following week, Berry had to take off work when his son developed a 104-degree fever, the suit states. Berry was soon placed on a three-month probation and was warned that unless his attendance improved, he would face further corrective action.

Berry soon made a written complaint in which he stated that he was unfairly placed on probation, to which his supervisor responded that if Berry had a second unexcused absence within that same month, he would be formally written up.

In mid-October 2011, Berry had to take off because of his son’s health, the lawsuit states. He was terminated early the next month.

The complaint states that Berry always informed the defendant of his need to take FMLA leave as well as the expected duration of each protected leave as soon as was practical, as required by the Family and Medical Leave Act.

The lawsuit claims that the defendant terminated Berry because he exercised his rights under the FMLA, and that he was subsequently retaliated against after he complained about his mistreatment.

The suit claims that as a result of his firing, Berry has suffered lost pay and benefits. He has also been unsuccessful in finding new employment, despite efforts to locate another job.

Berry seeks lost earnings, attorney’s fees, liquidated damages and other litigation related costs.

A jury trial has been demanded.

The federal case number is 2:12-cv-01012-JD. 

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