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Colorado Christian University sued for alleged FMLA violation

A former employee of Colorado Christian University has filed a lawsuit against the school in the Denver County District Court. She says the school committed employment discrimination by violating her right to take time off under the Family Medical Leave Act.

The former employee, a 31-year-old Colorado woman, claims that the university complicated her requests for FMLA unpaid leave because of a perception that she was "living in sin" with a boyfriend while she was employed at the school. This perception was allegedly instigated by co-workers who observed the former employee and another married co-worker laughing and enjoying a lively conversation during a coffee break. This, the employee claims, was then followed by conversations with a supervisor who asked her pointed questions about her relationship with the co-worker, followed by questions about the employee's personal life.

When she subsequently developed a few medical problems that would require her to miss time at work, the former employee claims she was questioned by the university's human resources staff as to whether she had a boyfriend, and whether or not she was cohabitating and carrying on a sexual relationship with that boyfriend.

While the employee was initially approved for FMLA leave, she states she later developed a condition which required urgent care, followed by two days of missed work. She claims that when she did return to work following that incident, she discussed her belief that the university was taking retaliatory action due to her FMLA leave requests. She was subsequently terminated from her employment.

The lawsuit contains two other claims. One is an invasion of privacy count. The former employee is also seeking compensation for lost wages and future benefits, as well as damages for humiliation and anguish.

As discussed in previous posts, the Family Medical Leave Act requires employers to allow employees up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave in a calendar year. Denver-area residents who believe their employer is not in compliance with this federal law should be aware of the options for holding the employer accountable.

Source: ABC News, "Colorado Woman Says Christian School Asked About Her Relationship With Boyfriend," Susanna Kim, May 9, 2012

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