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Sunday, September 22, 2019

U.S. court dismisses suit by former Broward Sheriff's Office employee alleging discrimination

Federal Court

By Marian Johns | Aug 23, 2019


FORT LAUDERDALE — A federal court has closed a suit filed by a former Broward County Sheriff's Office employee who alleged disability discrimination and retaliation over family medical leave to care for her severely asthmatic son. 

According to the Aug. 8 U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida ruling, the Broward County Sheriff's Office filed a motion for summary judgment in a suit filed by Carolina Matamoros. 

Matamoros joined the sheriff's office in January 2010 as a communications operator and allegedly always received good performance reviews. Throughout 2016, she allegedly intermittently requested leave under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) due to her son's severe asthma, which had become worse and resulted in him being hospitalized several times. That same year, the suit alleges, Matamoros requested to be considered for a part-time position due to her son's illness. However, the lawsuit states, but before she could officially meet with her supervisor about the position, it was filled by someone else. Matamoros filed a grievance with the department and said she was told she would be given the "next available" part-time job.

Matamoros alleges that because she was denied the part-time job, she was subjected to several disciplinary actions regarding her attendance despite asking for an accommodation due to her son's illness. She also argues her suspension was as a result of those disciplinary actions that interfered with her FMLA and that she was retaliated against for filing charges with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. 

U.S. District Judge Rodney Smith granted the defendant's summary judgment and noted that Matamoros would still have not met the 1,250 hours requirement for FMLA even without the suspensions and that she could not show "interference" with her FMLA because she "must have been denied a benefit to which she was entitled."

The court also denied all pending motions in the case as moot and ordered the case closed.

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