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Whitaker v. Bosch Braking Sys. Div. - 180 F. Supp. 2d 922 (W.D. Mich. 2001)


The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), 29 U.S.C.S. § 2601 et seq., provides eligible employees with a maximum of 12 weeks of unpaid leave in a given 12 month period to attend to certain family and medical matters. 29 U.S.C.S. § 2612(a). Leave may be taken for specified reasons, including medical reasons, childbirth or adoption, or for the care of a spouse, parent, or child who suffers from a serious health condition. An employee seeking leave for medical reasons or to care for a family member may take leave either intermittently on a reduced schedule when medically necessary. 29 U.S.C.S. § 2612(b). Upon return from FMLA leave, an employer must restore an employee to her former job or another position with equivalent pay, benefits, and conditions of employment. 29 U.S.C.S. § 2614(a)(1). An employer who fails to provide an employee FMLA leave may be held liable for compensatory damages, liquidated damages, and interest.


Tami Whitaker’s job consisted of standing on her feet at all times, constant moving, and inserting screws with a rivet gun. When Whitaker became pregnant she experienced considerable morning sickness, such that her doctor was concerned that if she spent too much time on her feet at work she would risk hypertension and premature delivery. Whitaker applied for FMLA leave in which she sought to be relieved from overtime work. Her employer, Bosch Braking Systems, denied her application for leave. Whitaker sued her employer  alleging violation of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).


Did Bosch Braking Systems violate the Family and Medical Leave Act?




The court held that Whitaker established that she had a serious medical condition because it was undisputed that her doctor advised her that due to her pregnancy she should not work more than eight hours per day due to the fact that her job involved continuous standing. Furthermore, the doctor confirmed that the requirement that Whitaker working overtime presented an unacceptable risk to the pregnancy. Whitaker provided Bosch Braking Systems with two notes from her doctor that indicated that her work should be limited to 8 hours per day, 40 hours per week due to her pregnancy. If the reasons for the doctor's restrictions were not clear to Bosch Braking Systems, it could have sought clarification.

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