Employee with Sleep Apnea Fired upon Returning from Leave.


Employee Files Lawsuit against Thomas Publishing for FMLA Violations

Michael became an account executive in December 2014 at Thomas Publishing. His main assignments included selling advertising space and creating digital marketing packages to sell. Based on his excellent reviews and hard work, Michael accepted a promotion to account manager in 2017.

In March 2017, Michael was diagnosed with severe obstructive sleep apnea. To manage this condition, Michael requested a reduced schedule through FMLA for a month. When the problem continued, he sought three more extensions for FMLA half days. Michael heard from three other coworkers that another team of employees were making fun of his sleep apnea, asking if anyone has “ever seen [Michael] fall asleep during a meeting.” Upon hearing this, Michael reported the behavior to HR and requested that his health information be kept private.

The day after HR handled the privacy situation with Michael’s health information, Michael’s direct supervisor accused him of inappropriate workplace behavior on three different dates. According to Michael, two of the alleged incidents never happened and the final one had a reasonable explanation. As to Michael’s sleep apnea, his physician believed that Michael was unable to work full time with his condition and that it could be up to a year-long problem, resulting in occasional overnight care at the hospital.

In July, Michael began to suffer chronic pain and requested full-time FMLA leave. However, at the beginning of his leave, he underwent a surgical spinal infusion for his painful neck injury. Michael took short term disability. In August, while still on short term disability, Michael received an email from HR informing him that his FMLA eligibility was set to expire, but Michael pointed out that this directly contradicted their employee handbook.

When Michael returned to work on November 30, he was immediately taken into a meeting where his supervisor showed him a letter from a customer. The supervisor accused Michael of speaking disparagingly of his employer and fired him. However, Michael suspects that his termination is retaliation because he used FMLA and short term disability leave for his medical conditions.

As a client of KM&A, Michael is fighting for his employee rights. KM&A represents employees like Michael who suffer FMLA interference and retaliation. The law protects men and women who must deal with a medical condition.


Full text of this complaint, as filed with the District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, is available at docket no: 2:18-cv-01586-GAM

Kraemer, Manes & Associates LLC is an employment law firm with principal offices in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, serving all counties in Pennsylvania, focusing on employment law, business law, litigation, and civil issues. KM&A clients include employees, small businesses, parties in litigation, and people with a variety of legal issues.

For more information about this case, contact Attorney Sean Ruppert at (412) 626-5550 or at sr@lawkm.com.

NOTICE: All information contained in this statement comes from the Complaint which has been filed as a public record with the court. As dedicated civil rights attorneys, we strongly believe in the public value of telling our clients’ stories: violators can be held accountable, and other silent victims can feel empowered to stand up for their legal rights. Although we make every attempt to verify our clients’ claims, note that the defendant is expected to oppose our client’s position, and the court has not ruled one way or the other as of the date of this statement.