Category Archives: Interest

Back from the USSR: FMLA Retaliation, 4th Circuit Decision in Dotson v Pfizer

Retaliation law is one of the most developing (and dangerous) areas of employment law. I recently spoke at the West Virginia Employment Lawyers Association’s annual conference on retaliation law, and I wanted to go back and discuss an important Fourth Circuit decision on the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993, 29 U.S.C. § 2601 et seq.

Dotson v. Pfizer: Adoption and the FMLA

The decision is Dotson v. Pfizer Inc., 558 F.3d 284 (2009), and involved allegations of retaliation stemming from leave taken for an international adoption from Russia.

The jury awarded $1,876 in damages on the FMLA interference claim and $331,429.25 on FMLA retaliation claim. The judge then awarded $333,305.25 in statutory liquidated damages, $375,000 in attorneys’ fees, and $14,264.88 in court costs. Both sides appealed. The Fourth Circuit rejected all aspects of the employer’s appeal, but found the trial court made a mistake in refusing to award the plaintiff pre-judgment interest. Continue reading Back from the USSR: FMLA Retaliation, 4th Circuit Decision in Dotson v Pfizer