Goelzer v. Sheboygan County, Wisconsin

604 F.3d 987 (2010)

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Goelzer v. Sheboygan County, Wisconsin

United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
604 F.3d 987 (2010)

  • Written by Robert Cane, JD

Facts

Dorothy Goelzer (plaintiff) worked as an administrative assistant for the county government of Sheboygan County, Wisconsin (defendant). In 2002, Goelzer started having health problems. She took one month of leave permitted by the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) for eye surgery. Goelzer used a total of 312.5 hours of sick leave that year. Her 2002 performance evaluation by Adam Payne, her supervisor, made note of the drastic increase in sick leave in 2002 compared to 36 hours in 2001. In 2003, Goelzer’s health issues caused her to use a total of 176.5 hours of sick leave. In her 2003 performance evaluation, Payne indicated that Goelzer’s absences were problematic. In 2004, Goelzer used 94 hours of sick leave. She used FMLA leave on nine days to care for her mother and her husband. She earned a 1.5 percent raise. In 2005, Goelzer used FMLA leave to care for her mother. She earned a 1.25 percent raise. Allegedly, Goelzer inquired as to why her raise was not higher, and Payne referred to the FMLA leave taken to care for her mother. In 2006, Goelzer needed foot surgery. She submitted an FMLA-leave request for two months off from September 22 to November 20 for the surgery and recovery. The county approved Goelzer’s request for leave. One week later, Payne’s position with the county changed to that of county administrator. Payne now had the power to terminate Goelzer without approval of the county board. Soon after, Payne met with the human-resources director to discuss terminating Goelzer. Ultimately, Payne gave Goelzer notice that she was discharged two weeks before she was to go on leave for her foot surgery. The effective date of the discharge was set for after Goelzer was to return from her FMLA leave, so she still received paid leave until November 30. Goelzer sued Sheboygan County for interfering with her right to reinstatement under the FMLA and retaliation for taking FMLA leave. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of Sheboygan County. Goelzer appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Williams, J.)

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