Former Employee Claims Sanderson Farms Erred When Firing Him While on Medical Leave

A previous employee at Sanderson Farms filed a complaint on Thursday in the Western District of Texas purporting that the company erred when firing him after he received a workplace injury. He purported that he was fired from Sanderson Farms for not disclosing a previous injury, which is unrelated to his workplace injury and should not have been a factor. 

The plaintiff claimed that the defendant breached the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and the Employee Income Retirement Security Act (ERISA). He explained in the complaint that he “suffered an on-the-job injury” of a torn meniscus in his right knee on October 9, 2020, and requested leave to receive knee surgery in late November, which would lead to a four to six week period where he should avoid “bending, squatting, or climbing.” The plaintiff explained that these are essential to his work as a mechanic at a Texas Sanderson Farms feed mill. 

The plaintiff was reportedly fired while he was on medical leave for his surgery. Although his injury was to his right knee, the plaintiff said that he was fired for not disclosing that he had received medical treatment on his left knee. He alleged that “the reason for termination is false and a pretext for retaliation against Plaintiff for requesting and receiving benefits under the FMLA.” 

Sanderson Farms reportedly covers employee injuries through an ERISA benefit plan, rather than providing worker’s compensation insurance. The plaintiff explained that as a participant of this plan, he was denied benefits under Sanderson Farms’ employee injury plan. 

The plaintiff purported that he suffered lost wages and benefits because of the actions of the defendant, and asked the court to award him damages, both for past wages and future wages, to compensate for these losses, along with attorney’s fees and costs. 

The plaintiff is represented by Hommel Law Firm