MUSCATINE — A former director for the city of Muscatine has filed a lawsuit alleging the city blocked employment benefits and retaliated against him.
David Gobin, former community development director for the city, filed a lawsuit last Monday in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Iowa. The suit accuses the city of interference with Gobin's Family Medical Leave Act entitlement, and discrimination and retaliation for a FMLA qualifying health condition.
Gobin was employed as a director for the city for about 4½ years, from July 7, 2014, to Jan. 24. Under the eligibility requirements of FMLA, an employee must have worked for the employer for at least 12 months; have at least 1,250 hours of service in the 12 months before taking leave; and work at a location where the employer has at least 50 employees within 75 miles of the employee’s worksite. The suit stated Gobin met those requirements.
On Dec. 11, the lawsuit stated, Gobin met with the Human Resources director for the city to explain he had been placed on an organ transplant list for a previously disclosed serious health condition and would need to be within travel distance for surgery. Gobin requested information on FMLA at that meeting, the lawsuit read.
FMLA states once an employer is aware of an employee's qualifying need for leave, the employer must notify the employee if they are eligible and provide notice of rights and responsibilities, or if they are ineligible by providing a reason.
The city did not provide Gobin with a notice of rights and responsibilities required by FMLA nor forms for doctors to complete, the lawsuit read, and Gobin did not receive FMLA notifications regarding his medical condition.
Just more than six weeks after Gobin met with HR, the city forced him to retire in lieu of termination, the suit alleged, thus retaliating against Gobin for exercising or attempting to exercise his FMLA rights.
Gobin is seeking back pay, lost employment benefits including pension, retirement and health insurance coverage payments, and attorney's fees and costs of litigation.
According to the city, Gobin retired in lieu of termination after he was found “to be in violation of the city’s employee handbook policies, including but not limited to, the city’s ethics and discipline policies.” Gobin also was found to have “lost the trust of other employees or citizens that he worked with during the last several months,” the city stated, which was discovered during his annual evaluation and a performance plan.
Further comment from the city regarding the lawsuit was unavailable by deadline Tuesday.