Ex-janitor sues Greenfield Faculty District for violating FMLA rights


Duane Kaufmann, a former janitor of the Greenfield School District, is suing his former employer for violating his rights under the Family Medical Leave Act. (Photo: Greenfield School District)

A former Greenfield School District janitor is suing the district, saying administrators violated his rights when he was fired after developing a serious health condition that prevented him from doing his job during his medical vacation to check for COVID -19 to be examined.

Duane Kaufmann accuses the district of encroaching on his rights under the Family Medical Leave Act and is taking revenge on him for attempting to exercise those rights by terminating his employment.

Alan Olson, Kelsey Kerr and Nicholas Yurk filed the complaint on behalf of Kaufmann in the US Eastern District Court in Wisconsin on April 15.

Mark Kapocius, Head of Human Resources for the Greenfield School District named in the complaint, said he was aware of the lawsuit but added that he had not yet been formally commissioned. He said the district is not commenting on pending litigation. However, Kapocius said the facts alleged in the complaint were incorrect and that the district was not “particularly concerned” about the complaint.

Kapocius said the district has been “exceptionally accommodating” with its staff and there have been no complaints about how the district has handled absences. He also said the district had hired additional staff to cope with these absences.

“The vast majority of our employees want to come back as soon as possible,” he said.

According to the lawsuit, Kaufmann wants a jury to rule on the case and demands a repayment with interest and other damages.

According to the complaint:

Kaufmann received a doctor’s letter from January 14-18, 2021 to take a leave of absence from work to be tested for COVID-19, which he believed had contracted. During his absence, Kaufmann suffered from an unspecified serious illness that made it impossible for him to carry out his work.

On the last day of his vacation, Kaufmann’s superiors issued a written reprimand and threatened to fire him if he had further absences.

In early March, Kaufmann verbally and in writing applied for medical leave for an operation, followed by a six-week recovery. As a full-time employee, he was entitled to an FMLA vacation of up to 12 weeks.

The district released him on March 15, citing the January 18 disciplinary letter.

In addition to Kapocius, Gage Johnson, Kaufmann’s supervisor, and Scott Miller, director of buildings and grounds for the district, are named as defendants.

No future court date is listed in the online records.

Contact Alec Johnson at (262) 875-9469 or [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter at @ AlecJohnson12.

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