A Tyson employee can pursue a Covid-19 mask medical leave lawsuit against his former employer

A Tyson Fresh Meats employee who claimed he was fired for taking medical leave after the company implemented a Covid-19 mask mandate can pursue his lawsuit against his former employer, ruled a U.S. district court judge recently. The company argued that the court should have dismissed both counts—Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) interference and retaliation—because the employee, Moussa Soulemane, did not provide any proof that his doctor was treating him for a serious health condition entitling him to FMLA, which determines when someone can get time off for health or other reasons. But in her order denying Tyson’s motion to dismiss, Chief Judge Sara Darrow of the Central District of Illinois thought otherwise. Darrow wrote that Soulemane, who worked at a company beef processing plant in Hillsdale, Illinois, had suffered from a previously diagnosed lung condition that affected his breathing. His doctor advised him in April 2020 not to wear a mask before applying for medical leave; the physician also gave him two notes stating that he would be unable to work. Soulemane provided those notes to a human resources contractor for Tyson for an FMLA leave request and an extension. By granting the requests, the judge argued, the company had essentially admitted that Soulemane had a serious health condition. —Matthew Sedacca

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