Fired Martin County librarian gets court's go-ahead in retaliation case

By Marian Johns | May 8, 2019

WEST PALM BEACH — A federal court has ruled that a Martin County librarian has demonstrated causality in her case against the county in which she alleges she was fired out of retaliation for not wanting to be transferred to another library. 

According to the April 19 U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida filing, Martin County asked the court for a summary judgment in a case brought about by Susana Isaias who worked as a librarian at the Elizabeth Lahti Library in Indiantown. 

Isaias, who says she began working at the library in 2002, filed a complaint against Martin County in May 2018 after she was terminated from her job. The case stems from Isaias being told in January 2017 that she was going to be transferred to the Hoke Library branch in Jensen Beach. This resulted in her telling the county that she could not afford to make the transfer and that she had transportation issues that included a right foot injury, which affected her driving.  

After missing one day of work about a week later for saying she needed an MRI due to her foot injury worsening, Isaias was fired. 

Isaias alleges Martin County violated the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and that her firing was in retaliation. She also says a "disciplinary memorandum" was "circulated" among her supervisors prior to her missing the day of work. 

Martin County argues that it had "contemplated" firing Isaias prior to her needing FMLA and says Isaias was "insubordinate" and her not showing up for work was "job abandonment."

The court concluded Isaias' firing was in "close temporal proximity" to her telling plaintiff about her worsening foot injury and that her "failure to appear for work" did not constitute a resignation under Martin County's human resources policy.

In denying Martin County's motion for summary judgment, U.S. District Judge Robin Rosenberg concluded there "is sufficient doubt" in Martin County's reason for firing Isaias and that Isaias had established "the prima facie case" for FLMA retaliation.

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