On September 24, 2004, in Tambash v. St. Bonaventure, a New York District Court held that an employer is on notice that leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”) may be needed where the employer is aware of its employees’ mental health condition. While this case is not new, it is worth looking back at. Tambash ensures that employers who know of their employees need for leave are not off the hook.
In Tambash, Plaintiff Terrence N. Tambash accepted a position by St. Bonaventure University (the “University”) as a security personnel and rose to Director of Security Services. Ten years later, Mr. Tambash began to experience depression and anxiety. Due to the significant decline of his mental health, Mr. Tambash requested a one-month vacation to deal with his stress and depression and notified his supervisor that he would need to take a medical leave for mental health reasons after returning from vacation. Mr. Tambash was an FMLA-eligible employee. Unfortunately, while on vacation, Mr. Tambash received a letter stating that the University had terminated his employment due to unsatisfactory work performance, neglecting his duties, and incompetence. Mr. Tambash sued, alleging that the University had interfered with his right to take leave under the FMLA.