Jim Boyle May 20, 2014, 7:00am


A pharmaceutical manufacturer in Philadelphia has been sued by a former employee who

says she lost her job after her managers failed to give complete information regarding her rights under the Family and Medical Leave Act.

Michele Swaringer, of the 5000 block of Woodcrest Ave. in Philadelphia, has filed a federal lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern Pennsylvania District against Delavau, Inc. for violating the federal statute and engaging in retaliatory practices. She seeks lost and future wages, plus benefits and punitive damages.

According to the complaint, Swaringer worked at the pharmaceutical company as a sales administrator when she suffered major injuries in a car accident on Sept. 11, 2013. Her doctor prescribed pain medication and advised Swaringer not to drive. Swaringer began receiving short term disability payments on Sept. 19, but her company's human resources department never informed her that she qualified for FMLA leave, according to the complaint.

Enacted in 1993, FMLA provides eligible employees with up to 12 work weeks of unpaid leave to tend to medical needs and emergencies. Under the law, the employee must be allowed to return to work in his or her same position. If that position is no longer available, a similar role with equal pay and benefits must be offered.

In October 2011, the director of human resources at Delavau phoned Swaringer and asked her to come in on a part-time basis, with transportation provided. Swaringer was told that there were issues at work that only she could appropriately handle. The claim says that Swaringer was not told she was on FMLA leave or how much time she had left.

Swaringer returned to work on Oct. 14, 2013 with a part-time, four-and-a-half hour shift and taxi transportation. The rest of her full-time work salary was covered by short term disability. Approximately two months later, Swaringer's pain worsened and her doctor advised her to go on long-term disability until her fractured ankle fully healed. According to court documents, Swaringer provided the necessary documents for long-term disability, but she was never told to get a medical certification to qualify for FMLA leave.

The complaint says that Swaringer was notified in January that her FMLA time had been exhausted and advised her to resign her position due to her inability to work. Swaringer said she did not wish to resign, and was fired a few days later.

The plaintiff's attorney is Michael Bowman of Bowman & Partners, LLP.

The federal case ID number is 2:14-cv-02817-AB.

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