Brightview Landscapes LLC, the nation-spanning landscape company headquartered in Plymouth Meeting, Pennsylvania, is facing a lawsuit from a former employee of one of their Florida offices. William Gonzales-Vega recently filed a complaint on behalf of himself and all similarly situated Brightview employees, alleging that the company wrongfully terminated him for an injury-related leave of absence.
Gonzales-Vega started working for Brightview in 2009. Last September, he injured his back, and took time off under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) to recuperate. The FMLA requires that companies give employees up to 12 weeks of leave per year with health benefits, and return them to their original job or an identical one when they return.
The suit is citing the FMLA and the Fair Labor Standards Act, arguing that Brightview did not compensate Gonzales-Vega for all the wages he earned, and retaliated against him for exercising his right to FMLA leave. The plaintiff has asked the court to designate the case a collective action, which would allow others who may have had the same experience to join in the suit.
Private businesses that have fewer than 50 employees are exempt from the FMLA, and there are requirements that employees must meet to be eligible for FMLA leave. They must have been with that employer for at least one year, and they must have worked at least 1,250 hours (not counting paid leave) in that time. The company must also have at least 50 other employees within 75 miles of the applicant’s jobsite. Workers who take FMLA leave may use sick or paid leave for some or all of their time off, and employers may require that they do so.