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Defending a School Employer in a FMLA Leave and Pregnancy Discrimination Case

In 2014, Pullman & Comley attorneys successfully defended a regional educational service center accused of violating pregnancy discrimination laws and the federal Family and Medical Leave Act, first won at the United States District Court and then on appeal at the Second Circuit Court of appeals.  The decision is notable for confirming that an employee (in this case, a teacher) who is unable to perform essential job duties cannot state a claim for discrimination and that the employer was not required by federal law to extend a leave of absence beyond the 12 week FMLA period when the employee was unable to return to work following the expiration of her leave of absence.    The courts’ decisions will give greater guidance to employers in assessing the circumstances in which an employee is entitled to leave and reasonable accommodations and also assist school administrators in balancing the needs of teachers with the needs of  students.