Sometimes a stray email is all it takes to send things into a spiral.
In the case of Karen D’Onofrio and her former employer, Vacations to Go, such a stray email led D’Onofrio to sue her employer for allegedly violating her rights under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). The cruise company responded by countersuing her for allegedly violating the non-compete clause of her employment contract.
The issues involved in the case go back to 2011, when D’Onofrio’s husband, Michael, was injured in a car accident. Three years later, he bought a franchise from a company that sells travel-related products and services, including cruises. As part of his application to buy the franchise, Michael included a screenshot of his wife’s sales records, although the picture in question did not include any client names.
A few months after Michael bought the franchise, D’Onofrio asked for leave from work under the FMLA so she could take care of her husband. She was given the option of taking unpaid leaving or working from home a few days out of each week and she decided to go with the latter. Then she allegedly attended a training session for her husband’s franchise while she was on leave and did not respond to messages from clients of Vacations to Go. When a manager sent an email incorrectly stating that D’Onofrio no longer worked for the cruise company, D’Onofrio assumed she had been fired. She was wrong, but she still sued Vacations to Go for violating her rights under the FMLA. Continue reading