Florida Record

Saturday, December 7, 2019

Former detention officer proves FMLA, nationality discrimination lead to termination

By Charmaine Little | May 15, 2018


MIAMI -- A man who alleged that discrimination and FMLA retaliation against him caused his termination was victorious in court, according to a May 5 opinion in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida.

Herbert Baussiquot filed a lawsuit against Akal Security Inc., where he had worked as an armed detention officer from 2014 to November 2016, after the company terminated him. 

Baussiquot alleged Akal retaliated against him after he took 44 days of intermittent leave to take care of his mother via the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), that the company interfered with his FMLA rights, ) discriminated against his mother and violated the Americans Disabilities Act (ADA), ) discriminated against him and violated Florida Civil Rights Act because of his Haiti origin, and ) violated Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act of 1964 based on his national origin.

The court ruled in favor of Baussiquot on all counts except the claim referring to the ADA.

For the first count, the court stated the plaintiff provided sufficient evidence to prove his termination had a direct connection to him taking days off via the FMLA leave. The court added Baussiquot proved his argument regarding the close timeline between his FMLA leave and his termination. 

The court also ruled in Baussiquot’s favor regarding FMLA interference. Although Akal never denied Baussiquot’s request for leave, it did schedule him for a required firearm re-qualification training while he was on leave. Because he did not undergo the training, he was taken off the schedule and ultimately fired. 

The court, however, did grant Akal’s request for summary judgment regarding Baussiquot’s allegation the company violated the ADA. The court pointed out Baussiquot had no evidence to prove he was terminated because of his mother’s health condition. 

The plaintiff also won on both counts of discrimination. Baussiquot had named three of his non-Haitian colleagues who were granted the opportunity to take the required training late, which Baussiquot was not permitted to do. 

Akal said it did not fire Baussiquot because of his failure to take the training, but instead because he mishandled a firearm. The court pointedout the incident regarding the firearm is not listed as a reason Baussiquot was terminated. 

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U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida