Wagner Logo

Follow us on Twitter View our profile on LinkedIn Like us on Facebook 




The Wagner Law Group

The Wagner Law Group is a nationally recognized practice in the areas of ERISA and employee benefits, estate planning, employment, labor and human resources and investment management.


Established in 1996, The Wagner Law Group is dedicated to the highest standards of integrity, excellence and thought leadership and is considered to be amongst the nation's premier ERISA and employee benefits law firms. The firm has seven offices across the country, providing unparalleled legal advice to its clients, including large, small and nonprofit corporations as well as individuals and government entities worldwide. The Wagner Law Group's 31 attorneys, senior benefits consultant and four paralegals combine many years of experience in their fields of practice with a variety of backgrounds. Seven of the attorneys are AV-rated by Martindale-Hubbell and six are Fellows of the American College of Employee Benefits Counsel, an invitation-only organization of nationally recognized employee benefits lawyers.  Seven of the firm's attorneys have been named to the prestigious Super Lawyers list for 2017, which highlights outstanding lawyers based on a rigorous selection process.




Contact Info

The Wagner Law Group


  Integrity | Excellence



Tel: (617) 357-5200 

Fax: (617) 357-5250 

99 Summer Street 

13th Floor

Boston, MA 02110


Washington, D.C.

Tel: (202) 969-2800


Fax: (202) 969-2568

 800 Connecticut Avenue, N.W.

Suite 810

Washington, D.C. 20006



Tel: (847) 990-9034

Fax: (847) 557-1312

190 South LaSalle Street

Suite 2100

Chicago, IL 60603



Palm Beach Gardens 

Tel: (561) 293-3590
Fax: (561) 293-3591
7108 Fairway Drive
Suite 125
Palm Beach Gardens, FL 33418



Tel: (813) 603-2959

Fax: (813) 603-2961

101 East Kennedy Boulevard

Suite 2140
Tampa, FL  33602 


San Francisco

Tel: (415) 625-0002

Fax: (415) 358-8300

300 Montgomery Street

Suite 600

San Francisco, CA 94104


St. Louis

Tel: (314) 236-0065

Fax: (314) 236-5743
25 W. Moody Avenue
St. Louis, MO  63119 







  Federal Court Explains What Constitutes FMLA Interference


February 22, 2018




An Illinois federal district court, in Hall v. Board of Education of the City of Chicago, has determined that an employer may have interfered with a teacher's FMLA rights when it requested that she provide a lesson plan and post grades while on FMLA leave. However, the court found that the employer's request for a second medical opinion before approving her leave request did not constitute FMLA interference and that her subsequent termination was not illegal retaliation.


Law. FMLA provides employees with two types of causes of action against employers. First, its "retaliation" provisions prohibit employers from discharging or discriminating against employees for "opposing any practice made unlawful" by the FMLA.  Second, the FMLA's "interference" provisions make it unlawful for any employer to interfere with,  restrain, or deny the exercise of, or the attempt to exercise, any right provided by the FMLA.


Examples of FMLA interfering with the exercise of an employee's FMLA right include refusing to authorize FMLA leave and discouraging an employee from using such leave. Nevertheless, FMLA allows an employer to require that an employee provide a second medical opinion before approving a request for FMLA leave.


Background. In Hall, the plaintiff was a writing coach for the Chicago Public Schools. As part of her duties, she was required to create a curriculum and writing program for her students to follow. A newly-hired principal for the school became concerned with the plaintiff's performance and reassigned her to a classroom teaching position.


After several years of receiving acceptable reviews, the plaintiff received an unsatisfactory rating from the principal, and she was required to go through a remediation plan. However, the plaintiff did not cooperate with the remediation plan, which included classroom observations by the principal. The principal continued to give the plaintiff unsatisfactory performance ratings and explained that she would seek the plaintiff's termination. The plaintiff was subsequently suspended and ultimately fired.


During the relevant period, the plaintiff took two FMLA leaves of absence. When she requested FMLA leave for a third time, the employer requested that the plaintiff provide a second medical opinion. The plaintiff provided the second opinion and her FMLA leave was retroactively approved. During this leave period, the principal contacted the plaintiff multiple times to request that she provide lesson plans and post student grades. The plaintiff also claimed that the principal subjected her to unfair deadlines when she returned to work. 


Following her termination, the plaintiff sued the employer, claiming that the principal had interfered with her FMLA leave rights by contesting her medical certification and requesting a second opinion, and by contacting her to request that she complete work during her leave. The plaintiff also claimed that the employer had suspended and fired her in retaliation for her taking FMLA leave.


District Court. In reviewing the matter, the district court first dismissed the portion of the plaintiff's FMLA interference claim related to the employer's request for a second opinion because FMLA authorizes such requests. As to the employer's contacts with the plaintiff during her third period of FMLA leave, the district court found that the principal may have "crossed the line into interference" by requesting that the plaintiff perform work, including providing lesson plans and posting grades.


The district court next reviewed the plaintiff's FMLA retaliation claim and determined that evidence provided by the employer confirmed that it terminated her without any retaliatory motive. The district court observed that the plaintiff had received unsatisfactory performance reviews and had refused to participate in the remediation process. Moreover, the district court noted that the principal had given favorable reviews to other teachers who had taken FMLA leave. Accordingly, the district court concluded that the employer took all of the steps required under applicable law before terminating the plaintiff and dismissed the plaintiff's FMLA retaliation claim.






This Newsletter is protected by copyright. Material appearing herein may be reproduced with appropriate credit.


This Newsletter is provided for information purposes by The Wagner Law Group to clients and others who may be interested in the subject matter, and may not be relied upon as specific legal advice.  This material is not to be construed as legal advice or legal opinions on specific facts. Under the Rules of the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts, this material may be considered advertising.