GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — A couple filed a $3 million federal lawsuit Wednesday against the city of Wyoming and its police chief for violating the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993.
Eric and Amanda Grunewald filed the suit against the city and Chief James Carmody in U.S. District Court Western District of Michigan in Grand Rapids.
Eric Grunewald is a former Wyoming police officer who was hired in 1995 and says he was fired on June 14, 2014, for violating restrictions on comp, sick and vacation time that had been placed on him a month earlier. Grunewald says the termination was due to his decision to use sick and vacation pay plus intermittent time off to care for his wife, mother and two sons, all of whom suffered from serious health conditions.
The 18-page suit alleges that “Carmody was looking for a reason to fire officer Grunewald because he used up a lot of his sick and vacation time.” It says the chief has publicly questioned the loyalty of anyone who uses sick or vacation time and “has an intense personal hatred for employee time off.”
The suit says that on June 9, 2014, Grunewald hand-delivered a request for time off under the Family and Medical Leave Act. He was dismissed five days later.
The suit says that the Police Officers’ Labor Council filed a grievance over the May 2014 restrictions and that binding arbitration resulted in an arbitrator finding in the union’s favor and ordering the city to rescind the restrictions, but not until after Grunewald already had been fired.
Therefore, the suit charges that his termination is unlawful.