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United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
June 1, 2022, Argued; November 16, 2022, Decided; November 16, 2022, Filed
File Name: 22a0241p.06
[*909] [***2] CLAY, Circuit Judge. Plaintiff Edward Render ("Render") sued his former employer, FCA US, LLC ("FCA"), under the Family Medical Leave Act ("FMLA"), 29 U.S.C. §§ 2601, et seq., alleging that FCA wrongfully denied him FMLA medical leave in violation of 29 U.S.C. § 2615(a)(1), and that FCA retaliated against him for requesting FMLA leave in [**2] violation of 29 U.S.C. § 2615(a)(2). FCA moved for summary judgment on both claims, which the district court granted. Render v. FCA US LLC, No. 19-12984, 2021 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 133747, 2021 WL 3085401, at *9 (E.D. Mich. July 20, 2021). For the reasons set forth below, [*910] we REVERSE the district court's order and REMAND for further proceedings.
A. Factual Background
Edward Render started working for FCA on January 3, 2013, as an assembly line worker at FCA's Trenton Engine Complex. Eventually he moved into a more specialized position cutting cranks for engines. FCA originally terminated his employment on September 14, 2015, for attendance infractions. But Render filed a grievance through his union representative challenging his termination. Ultimately, FCA conditionally reinstated him on April 10, 2017 and Render agreed to a one year probationary period. Under the terms of his Conditional Reinstatement Letter, FCA could terminate him if he incurred two unexcused tardies or one unexcused absence during his probationary period.
On October 24, 2017, about six months after his reinstatement, Render applied for intermittent FMLA leave. Sedgwick, FCA's third party leave administrator, replied on October 26, 2017, asking Render to provide medical documentation to support his request. Render's doctor then submitted a medical [**3] certification form on November 9, 2017. His doctor noted that he needed intermittent FMLA leave to manage his major recurrent depression and moderate/generalized anxiety disorder. The medical certification form noted that Render was unable to perform "[a]ny/all duties related to [his] job during [a] flare-up of symptoms." (Med. [***3] Certification Form, R. 22-14, Page ID #190.) Render therefore requested up to three to four days of intermittent leave per month to manage his flare-ups. Sedgwick responded with a second letter on November 14, 2017, with the subject "Approval of Intermittent Employee Medical Leave." (Nov. 14 Sedgwick Letter, R. 22-15, Page ID #191.) The letter conditionally approved Render's request and noted that he could take up to four FMLA leave days per month. However, the letter also noted that Sedgwick would "review [his] eligibility as of [his] first day absent to determine if [he] met all eligibility requirements" at the time he used his leave. (Id.)
The letters from Sedgwick gave Render conflicting instructions about how to call in to use his intermittent FMLA leave days. The first letter from Sedgwick (asking Render for more medical documentation) gave the following [**4] instructions:
Full case includes Shepard's, Headnotes, Legal Analytics from Lex Machina, and more.
53 F.4th 905 *; 2022 U.S. App. LEXIS 31647 **; 2021 FED App. 2851P (6th Cir.) ***
EDWARD RENDER, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. FCA US, LLC, Defendant-Appellee.
Subsequent History: Rehearing denied by, En banc Render v. FCA United States LLC, 2022 U.S. App. LEXIS 35830 (6th Cir., Dec. 28, 2022)
Prior History: [**1] Appeal from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan at Port Huron. No. 3:19-cv-12984—Robert H. Cleland, District Judge.
Render v. FCA US LLC, 2021 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 133747, 2021 WL 3085401 ( E.D. Mich., July 19, 2021)
intermittent, notice, tardy, foreseeable, regulations, terminated, employees, call-in, unforeseeable, symptoms, certification, requirement of notice, protected activity, qualifying, instructions, retaliation claim, district court, sufficient notice, flareup, flare-up, phone number, coded, shift a burden, confirmation, unexcused, rights, Reinstatement, depression, referenced, anxiety
Civil Procedure, Summary Judgment, Entitlement as Matter of Law, Appropriateness, Judgments, Entitlement as Matter of Law, Appellate Review, Standards of Review, Genuine Disputes, Legal Entitlement, Evidence, Inferences & Presumptions, Inferences, Business & Corporate Compliance, Family & Medical Leaves, Scope & Definitions, Restoration of Benefits & Positions, Labor & Employment Law, Leaves of Absence, Burdens of Proof, Retaliation, Statutory Application, Family & Medical Leave Act, Covered Employees, Serious Health Conditions, Posting & Recordkeeping, Torts, Causation, Proximate Cause, Foreseeability of Harm, Short Term Leaves, Evidence, Burdens of Proof, Burden Shifting, Disparate Treatment, Types of Evidence, Circumstantial Evidence, Discrimination, Elements, Causation, Employment Practices, Adverse Employment Actions, Discharges & Failures to Hire, Allocation