CTA Ordered to Produce Spreadsheet of Confidential FLMA Forms to Plaintiff Bus Driver
In Buchanan v. Chicago Transit Authority, Case No. 16-4577 (N.D. Ill., Dec. 7, 2016), Plaintiff sued Defendant, his employer, under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Plaintiff was a Chicago city bus driver who had been injured in a car accident, causing him to request intermittent FMLA leave from his employer, Defendant, which required him to contact Defendant at least one hour prior to his regular start time on a day he would be taking off. His medications occasionally caused him to oversleep and miss his deadline for calling in. There was some confusion about when his leave would be over, and ultimately, Plaintiff was fired.
During the suit that followed, Plaintiff sent discovery requests to Defendant. The requests included a request for all Defendant’s Unforeseeable Claim Review forms (UCR Forms), which are FMLA forms employees use to request leave, from January 1, 2013 to the present, as well as documents related to Defendant’s decisions to deny or approve such UCR Forms and other documentation related to the UCR policy. Defendant objected to the request on the grounds that the materials were confidential; it also objected that the request was not proportional to the needs of the case and that it would be unduly burdensome to produce the material, as it had more than 10,000 employees over the course of the three-year period sought. Plaintiff filed a Motion to Compel.
The court determined that the burden would be “substantial,” as Defendant claimed manual review of the files would be required; the forms were generated and logged on spreadsheets, and they are not always maintained electronically. The electronic versions of the forms, if any, were not in searchable format. The court did find that the material was relevant; however, the court found that Plaintiff “vastly overstated” the need for the material, and he could explore Defendant’s course of business in other ways. The court finally found that the confidentiality objection was a non-issue, as a confidentiality order was in place. Therefore, the court ordered Defendant to produce an unredacted copy of its UCR spreadsheet from the year 2013 as a sample, but otherwise denied the Motion to Compel, finding the burden on Defendant to be too great.