Florida Record

Monday, December 9, 2019

Court dismisses civil rights claim against Walgreens, but allows whistleblower allegation to go forward

State Court

By Marian Johns | Jul 30, 2019

Walgreens

ORLANDO — Walgreens has been granted its motion to dismiss one of four counts filed by a former employee who alleges she was fired and denied family medical leave requests to care for her disabled son in retaliation for reporting alleged violations of state law and regulations.

According to a July 15 U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida Orlando Division filing, Walgreen Co. moved to dismiss plaintiff Doris Lapham's complaint .

Lapham, who worked for Walgreens for 11 years, alleges she was terminated in 2017 as part of the drug store chain's retaliation against her. For more than a year and prior to her being fired, Lapham claims she had submitted and was granted intermittent Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) requests for her son. 

At the same time, a new store manager came on board, and Lapham claims she had begun to document and report what she alleges was the company's "violations of numerous laws and regulations" such as roach infestations and "bodily fluids" left in the store. During this same time period,  Laphams' FMLA requests began to be denied. 

Walgreens argues that Lapham was fired for "insubordination" and that her allegations of "retaliatory discharge" under the Florida Civil Rights Act (FCRA) should be dismissed because the alleged actions of "associational disability discrimination" are not protected under the FCRA.

The court agreed with Walgreens regarding the FCRA retaliation claim with U.S. District Judge Paul Byron granting the FCRA count with prejudice. Byron denied the dismissal of the remaining counts of retaliation under the Florida Whistleblower Act, FMLA and interference under the FMLA stating that Lapham's complaint "contains adequate detail" for the case to move forward. 

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U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida, Orlando Division

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