Former Tennessee Titans athletic field assistant Paul Miller has filed a lawsuit against Tennessee Football, Inc., the corporate unit that owns the team. His claims relate to the discharge after contracting coronavirus.
In particular, Miller alleges in his complaint filed in the Tennessee Middle District that the Titans violated the Family Medical Leave Act of 1993 and the Fair Labor Standards Act when it ended his employment. He says his dismissal had nothing to do with failure to perform his duties, including preparing the Titans’ practice and playing field during the regular season.
The complaint indicates that Miller tested positive for COVID-19 on November 11, 2020 and was released via phone call on November 20, 2020. Miller says the Titans were aware of his diagnosis because he presented documentation, and the team subsequently put him on paid sick leave under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA).
While FFCRA is no longer in force, it was present on the dates at issue in the complaint. According to the US Department of Labor website, “Employers must not dismiss, discipline, or otherwise discriminate against an employee who takes paid sick leave and files a complaint, or initiates or has any relationship with the FFCRA.”
Miller says he was told to quarantine himself, that he was a skilled worker, and that his rights under the FFCRA had been violated. Part of his requested relief is a request to resume his position with the Titans, receive a reimbursement and receive liquidated damages as well as a reimbursement of the fees and costs of his attorney.
Darren Heitner is the founder of Heitner Legal. He is the author of How to Play the Game: What Every Sports Lawyer Needs to Know, published by the American Bar Association, and is an associate professor at Levin College of Law, University of Florida. You can reach him by email at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @DarrenHeitner.