Ikea Settles FMLA Retaliation Lawsuit with Former Manager

Furniture giant Ikea has reached a settlement in a Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) retaliation lawsuit filed by a former manager. The case, which alleged that the employee was terminated after informing her boss about the need for hernia surgery and requesting time off, has come to a close following negotiations.

Case background

Lori Thompson, a former commercial manager at an Ikea store in Maryland, filed a lawsuit against Ikea US Retail LLC in December 2021. Her complaint detailed a series of events that led to her termination after she shared her intention to take medical leave for hernia surgery with her new store manager in September 2019. Initially, the manager did not oppose her request for time off. However, as time passed, Thompson claimed that he began to create performance issues for her.

In December 2019, the store manager informed Thompson that she was being let go, citing low sales in the commercial division as the reason. Thompson contended that this explanation was a pretext for unlawful retaliation. Ikea, in its defense, argued that the termination was due to Thompson's ineffective leadership, which had a negative impact on department morale and performance.

U.S. District Judge Joel H. Slomsky denied Ikea's motion for summary judgment. The judge's ruling was based on the fact that there was a 2.5-month gap between Thompson's discussion about her leave and her termination. Additionally, disputes over the authorship of her final performance review and allegations of manipulation by the store manager further complicated the case, making it suitable for trial.

After months of legal proceedings, Ikea and Lori Thompson reached a settlement agreement, bringing the lawsuit to a close. While the terms of the settlement were not disclosed publicly, the resolution underscores the significance of addressing issues related to FMLA retaliation and ensuring that employees are not penalized for exercising their rights under the law.

If you’ve been retaliated against at work, contact a qualified whistleblower attorney at Kardell Law Group today.