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4th Cir. Upholds Jury Verdict for McGuireWoods in FMLA Case

Posted Aug 6, 2009 6:31 PM CDT
By Martha Neil

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An attorney working as a legal secretary at McGuireWoods lost at trial and has now lost again on appeal in a case alleging that the law firm retaliated against her for asserting her right to take family medical leave to care for her ailing mother and libeled her after she was fired for attempting to do so.

Ruling on the briefs in the case without oral argument, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said a 2007 jury verdict that the firm did not violate Nancy Mathias Adair's rights under the Family Medical Leave Act was supported by the evidence, reports the Blog of Legal Times.

The law blog provides links to Adair's 2006 complaint (PDF), a law firm brief (PDF) in support of its motion to dismiss and the 4th Circuit's per curium opinion (PDF) today.

In her complaint, Adair contends that her problems began in 2004 when, after working since 1997 at the firm, she was assigned to partner Joseph Tirone, "a notoriously difficult taskmaster" who has allegedly been assigned numerous secretaries over the years.

Nine months later, in mid-2005, his treatment of her "changed dramatically," she avers, when she needed to take some time off and leave at 5 p.m. on some evenings to help her mother recover from a heart attack and stroke. Although she completed her work, Tirone "vociferously" objected to her not adhering to his preferred schedule, the complaint says, and she was fired within two months of her mother's illness.

The firm's brief challenges the legal basis for several of Adair's claims, but does not address the facts she alleges. Tydings & Rosenberg represented the firm and Tirone, and Baltimore partner William Carrier III, who served as lead counsel for the defendants, could not immediately be reached for comment Thursday evening by the ABA Journal.

Adair was represented by Maryland solo Mary Keating at trial and was pro se on appeal.

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