Removal of FMLA Suit to Federal Court

An ex-employee of KGRP Inc., doing business as Kroger Limited Partnership I, filed a lawsuit against the company alleging violation of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). The case has now been removed to the federal court after Kroger filed a notice of removal in May 2015.

The notice states “Removal is appropriate in this matter because this court has original jurisdiction of all civil actions arising under the laws of the United States.”

In the complaint dated April 6, 2015, filed in the Kanawha Circuit Court, it is alleged that the company violated the FMLA and caused interference with the rights given under the Act. Ex-employee, Lonzo Smith, was hired by the company on March 20, 2011. Smith was a member of the night stock crew, who met or exceeded Kroger’s performance standards. This led him to come to the position of dairy manager, earning $15.75 per hour. Thereafter, in 2014, he transferred to the South Charleston store from the Quincy store and informed the management that he would require leave from work to care for his wife, who was pregnant, and had complications.[1]

On his request for leave, Kroger provided him with no documentation as opposed to the FMLA requirements. The company also failed to provide him any notice concerning his eligibility and/or rights to receive leave under FMLA when he took time off from work at various times in July to be able to attend his wife’s prenatal visits and care for her during her pregnancy.

On October 6, Smith was terminated from his employment for the reason that he had not properly clocked out when taking his breaks between September 1 and October 4. However, Smith claims that he was not provided with any warning about any violation of policy before his employment was terminated.

Smith claims an act of retaliation for taking time off from work despite being qualified and eligible for the FMLA leave. It is alleged in the complaint that Kroger’s actions were negligent and caused the Plaintiff infliction of emotional distress.

[1] U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia case number: 2:15-cv-05960

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