A former Arkansas firefighter who has sued his city and former bosses says he was forced to quit after being ostracized for taking time off to care for his dying son, the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported Tuesday.
Eric Anderson, who worked in Springdale, contends the city as well as Chief Mike Irwin, now-retired assistant chief Kevin McDonald and assistant chief Ron Skelton violated the federal Family and Medical Leave Act, according to the newspaper.
Anderson's son was reportedly diagnosed with a cancerous brain tumor in 2014. When the child's condition worsened in 2016, the suit states, Anderson requested leave intermittently and began trading shifts with other firefighters to make up hours.
According to the lawsuit cited by the newspaper, changes to the shift-trading policy in 2017 were a direct attack on Anderson for taking time off. The policy change angered co-workers, who began to ostracize Anderson, forcing him to quit, the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported. His son reportedly died in August 2017.
The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Fayetteville, reportedly seeks damages, including back pay and front pay for retaliation and an order enjoining Springdale officials from violating terms of the Family and Medical Leave Act.