In a ruling that defines the scope of individual liability under the Family and Medical Leave Act, a federal judge has refused to dismiss claims against a trio of human resources executives and a manager who allegedly set out to find a reason to fire a worker soon after learning that he needed to schedule a leave for a surgery.

In the suit, plaintiff Dmitry Narodetsky, an industrial designer, claims that just a few days after he informed his bosses at Cardone Industries of his need for surgery, he was called in to a meeting and confronted with a pornographic e-mail found on his work computer.