A federal appeals court has reinstated Keri M. Towns’ wrongful termination case against Northeast Mississippi Electric Power Association.
The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal reports that the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has reversed a Mississippi federal judge who had ruled for the utility.
The Mississippi judge sided with the Oxford-based utility on whether Towns gave adequate notice for leave under the Family Medical Leave Act.
According to the lawsuit, Towns joined NEMEPA as a cashier in 2006. Her arm and hands pain and swelling were diagnosed as carpal tunnel syndrome Sept. 12, 2007.
She filed a workers’ compensation claim, which was denied after another doctor told her she had a pre-existing bone disease.
About four months later, she arranged for short-term disability through her employer and was referred to another doctor, who released her to light duty status with restrictions on the use of her arms.
When she attempted to return to work, she couldn’t perform her duties because she could not lift her left arm, the lawsuit says.
Towns claimed she regularly updated her employer, but on Dec. 26, 2007, she was fired by letter.
Ultimately, new doctors diagnosed her with carpal tunnel, she underwent surgery and filed her lawsuit.
The Mississippi judge denied Towns’ claims and concluded that she failed to provide the utility with enough notice that she was entitled to a leave under the FMLA.
In her appeal, Towns’ attorneys argue that she gave NEMEPA enough information for the utility to grant her FMLA leave or to ask about her need for leave before firing her.
The utility argues she never tried to pursue that leave but chose short-term disability instead and failed to comply with company leave-policy notice.
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