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News: A legal secretary files a law suit against her former employer for interference

Vanessa A. Mcfadden v. Ballard Spahr Andrews & Ingersoll, LLP

Mrs. Vanessa McFadden, a legal secretary who worked in the DC Office of Ballard Spahr, from 1989 until she was fired in 2004, filed a law suit against her former employer, claiming the firm interfered with her right to take time off to care for her husband and herself.

The law suit is set for trial in July, after a D.C. federal judge last week denied a motion to refer the case to mediation.

Mrs. McFadden’s claim has to do with whether the firm improperly barred her from taking time off to care for her husband after he was diagnosed with cancer in 2002.

Mrs. McFadden alleges that her former employer refused to give her the amount of time off she was entitled to under the Family and Medical Leave Act and claims that she was forced to pay out of pocket to have her sister care for her ailing husband instead. She also claims that firm partners and staff made “harassing comments” about her husband’s illness that she believed “were designed to coerce her into coming back to work full-time.”

Under the Family and Medical Leave Act, prevailing plaintiffs can recover out-of-pocket expenses, and attorney fees, if the jury finds the defendant acted intentionally.

Additionally, according to the DC Circuit Court, under the the Family and Medical Leave Act, Mrs. McFadden is not required to prove that her former employer denied her leave, she will only have to show that the firm interfered with the exercising of her FMLA rights.