- A former Comcast employee filed suit against the company March 2 (Bates v. Comcast Corp., No. 2:22-cv-00774 (E. D. Penn. March 2, 2022)), alleging it violated his Family and Medical Leave Act and Americans with Disabilities Act rights.
- According to the complaint, the plaintiff, a director of business operations, was encouraged to apply for and received a second job "opportunity" with Comcast, which resulted in an increase in responsibilities, but no increase in salary. "The stress of working two positions" caused the worker's disability-related conditions — advanced retina disease and high blood pressure — to worsen, the complaint said. Shortly after the worker disclosed his disability, he began to receive poor performance reviews for the first time.
- The employee also took Family and Medical Leave Act leave, but was told he needed to provide 24 hours' notice "in advance of any sick day or day covered under his approved intermittent FMLA leave," the complaint alleged. The work environment eventually turned hostile and the employee was terminated for "false and pretextual" reasons, according to the complaint. Comcast did not respond to a request for comment by press time.
In this case, the plaintiff accused Comcast of violating two intersecting laws often applicable to employee medical issues — the FMLA and the ADA.
The FMLA allows eligible employees to take "unpaid, job-protected leave for certain family and medical reasons," including "the employee's own serious health condition that makes the employee unable to perform the functions of his or her job," according to the Department of Labor.
The complaint noted that after his condition worsened, the employee asked for — and received approval for — intermittent FMLA leave "for absences necessitated by his disability." One month later, the employee's supervisor told him of a requirement to provide 24 hours' notice in advance of any sick day or use of the approved, intermittent FMLA leave, which the complaint said violated Comcast's own policies.
DOL has issued its own guidance on employee notification requirements. While employers may require up to 30 days' advance notice for situations that are foreseeable, such as surgeries scheduled months ahead of time, the requirement for notice of unforeseen circumstances necessitating leave is "as soon as possible and practical."
The suit further alleged that Comcast violated the ADA by discriminating and retaliating against the plaintiff. Poor performance reviews began only after the plaintiff declared his disability, the complaint alleged. He was also subject to "a hostile work environment, including by way of unwarranted criticism; micromanagement; continuous increasing of his job duties, responsibilities and expectations; refusing to appropriately staff his team to ensure that the workload across the team was appropriate; and, other hostile treatment."
While the plaintiff and his supervisor involved multiple members of the HR team in their dispute, the complaint alleged HR failed to adequately address it.