Federal Judge Refuses to Dismiss Vatican Attorney Firing Suit

Vatican Attorney Firing Suit

A federal judge has rejected a motion to dismiss a lawsuit brought by an attorney alleging he was wrongfully terminated by the Virginia city of Martinsville. The attorney, Daniel Mook, claims the city fired him illegally and accused him of doctoring a medical form required for his Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) request to care for his ailing mother.

Vatican Attorney Firing Suit : Allegations of FMLA Violations

U.S. District Judge Thomas T. Cullen denied the motions to dismiss filed by Martinsville and its lead attorney, G. Andrew Hall. Mook accused Hall of violating his FMLA rights by improperly contacting his mother’s doctor to verify a medical form’s authenticity. The city and Hall argued that their actions were justified, but the judge ruled that their methods did not comply with FMLA regulations.

“Whether it be a fraud investigation or a routine verification screen, the FMLA regulations are clear as to what an employer must do,” Judge Cullen stated. “On his allegations, [Mook] has stated an FMLA interference claim.”

Vatican Attorney Firing Suit : Details of the Case

Mook’s 2023 lawsuit claims the city and Hall interfered with his FMLA rights by directly contacting his mother’s physician without first notifying him of their concerns. The city contended that the form, signed by a nurse and filled out in Mook’s handwriting, was suspicious, leading them to contact the doctor who denied authorizing the signature. Consequently, Mook was terminated in November 2021.

Legal Interpretations and Arguments

The FMLA stipulates that employers may only contact healthcare providers for clarification on medical certifications after giving employees an opportunity to rectify any issues. The judge emphasized that Martinsville and Hall should have addressed their concerns with Mook before contacting the doctor.