Retaliation against employees who exercise their right to medical leave is prohibited under Massachusetts and federal law. As with any employment discrimination suit, plaintiffs who bring retaliation claims must overcome various hurdles before having a jury hear and decide their case. Under Rule 12(b)(6) of the Massachusetts Rules of Civil Procedure and its federal corollary, for instance, an employer may file a motion near the start of the litigation asking the court to dismiss the case due to the alleged lack of a cognizable legal theory or the absence of sufficient facts to support a particular theory. As an example, a plaintiff who brings suit under the Family and Medical Leave Act against a company that has less than 50 employees would not survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion because the law only generally applies to employers with at least 50 employees.
In addition, under Rule 56 of the Massachusetts Rules of Civil Procedure and its federal corollary, an employer will likely file a motion after the close of discovery once again asking the court to dismiss the case. Through this mechanism, the employer must show that – even when viewing all the evidence in the most favorable light to the employee – there’s no chance a reasonable jury could rule in his or her favor.