Federal judge overturns verdict against Rand Construction
- A U.S. District Court judge for the Eastern District of Virginia struck down a jury verdict against an Alexandria, Virginia, contractor, Rand Construction, that had found the company guilty of retaliating against a former employee and firing her for taking a few weeks off work under the Family and Medical Leave Act, according to court documents.
- In the decision, Judge Anthony Trenga wrote that Rand CEO Linda Rabbitt had been unhappy with the work performance of her assistant, Arlene Fry, before Fry revealed she had multiple sclerosis and took time off. The court determined Fry's termination was a result of her work performance, not her illness. Although the jury awarded Fry almost $51,000 in lost wages for the FMLA violation, she was denied requests to have her job back and her request for punitive and other damages. In addition, the jury agreed with Rand that Fry wrongly made copies of and retained company emails that had nothing to do with her discrimination case.
- Rabbitt founded Rand Construction in 1989, according to the Washington Business Journal, and the company is now the twelfth largest contractor in the Washington, D.C. metro area. Rand reportedly grossed $328 million in 2017, with $260 million of that generated locally with its 166 regional employees.
Some small, local construction companies will never have to deal with regulations under FMLA and some other laws because they don't have enough workers to trigger their mandatory compliance. However, as a company's employee roster grows, so does its obligation to abide by several labor-related rules.
FMLA applies to companies with 50 or more employees and provides for up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for family events like the birth or adoption of a child. Employees suffering from an illness or taking care or sick family members are also eligible to take time off under the regulation.
The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 keeps private and public employers from discriminating against those with disabilities in all areas of application processing, training and work conditions and pay, but only employers with 15 or more employees are required to comply.
Large employers — with 200 or more employees — that offer health insurance are required to enroll all new workers in one of the plans they offer under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. There are other requirements under the act imposed on employers with 50 or more employees as well.
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