A man who worked as a floor technician for a company that operates a
handful of charter schools in the Philadelphia region is suing his former employer over claims that his firing after more than two years of employment violated federal law.
David Padilla, of Philadelphia, filed suit at the Eastern District of Pennsylvania on Jan. 28 against Philadelphia-based Aspira Inc., alleging the defendant violated the Family and Medical Leave Act when it moved to terminate his employment this past October.
Padilla, who began working for the company in the summer of 2011, had to take off of work for four days this past August due to kidney stones.
The defendant never advised the plaintiff of his rights under the FMLA with regard to his Aug. 26 to 30 leave, the lawsuit states, and it never provided him with the FMLA-required individualized notice with regard to the physician-ordered leave from work.
The defendant never designated Padilla’s absences as FMLA protected, but rather told Padilla he would have to use accrued vacation days and/or sick time to cover his leave, according to the complaint.
The suit goes on to offer two more examples of instances in which the defendant violated the FMLA.
In early October of last year, Padilla had to take a leave of absence from work due to his young daughter’s hospitalization for abdominal pain, the record shows.
Again, the plaintiff was told he would be required to utilize vacation days to cover his time off.
And in late October, Padilla again was forced to take time off work after his child suffered what the suit says was a psychiatric breakdown requiring therapy.
The plaintiff requested a leave of absence from Oct. 21 to 22 to care for his daughter, but he was once again informed that he would have to use vacation time to cover his leave, the lawsuit states.
In both of the incidents involving his daughter, like the first time Padilla had to take off from work due to his kidney stones, the plaintiff was not informed of his rights under the FMLA, the suit says.
Padilla informed his employer he would need to take time off work at the end of October to further care for his daughter.
This time around, the defendant fired Padilla, the complaint says.
In the termination paperwork, the company categorized all of the days off taken by Padilla as “absences,” and noted that the absences had been counted against him because “unplanned vacation days, and unscheduled periodic sick leave taken on a repeated basis is considered an abuse of the system,” according to the civil action.
“Defendant’s consideration of such absences in the decision to terminate Plaintiff constitutes a violation of Plaintiff’s rights under the FMLA,” the complaint reads.
The lawsuit contains counts of interference and retaliation under the FMLA.
Padilla seeks to have the defendant prohibited from continuing to maintain its illegal policy, practice or custom of denying employees their rights under the FMLA.
He also seeks to be compensated for any and all pay and benefits he would have received had he not been terminated from his job.
Additionally, Padilla seeks liquidated damages of an unspecified amount to “punish Defendant for its willful, deliberate, malicious, and outrageous conduct and to deter Defendant or other employers from engaging in such misconduct in the future.”
The lawsuit was filed by Cherry Hill, N.J. attorney Manali Arora of the firm Swartz Swidler.
The federal case number is 2:14-cv-00615-RBS.