The Family Medical Leave Act allows covered employees to take job-protected leave in order to care for a sick family member, get treatment for a medical condition or welcome a new baby into the family. This leave is a critical resource that gives employees the peace of mind in knowing that they can step away from a job when necessary without having to be fearful of losing that job.
However, some employers fail to comply with FMLA rules and wrongfully terminate an employee on or after taking leave. In these situations, taking legal action can be critical.
For instance, a man filed a lawsuit against Lowe’s arguing that he was wrongfully terminated. His claim is based on an FMLA accommodation he was receiving that allowed him to show up late periodically. According to reports on the case, the man suffered from sleep apnea, which resulted in oversleeping. When that happened, the amount of time he was late was to be considered FMLA leave.
Despite the fact that he reported his condition and was assured it would be covered by FMLA, management at the store allegedly disciplined him for being late. He says he was also harassed by at least one manager for utilizing the accommodation. He was ultimately fired for issues related to “no-call/no-show,” which presumably stem from his tardiness. According to federal laws, an employee cannot be fired or discriminated against for exercising his or her rights under the FMLA.
This is just one example of the types of disputes that can arise in regards to FMLA leave and employment termination. Oftentimes, an employer and the employee have very different perspectives on the situation and the courts will need to decide who — if anyone — is at fault and what needs to happen to remedy the situation.
In order to do this, many things will happen. Documents must be retained and examined; witnesses are typically questioned; legal and medical information will be scrutinized. Considering all that is at stake and all the legal complexities of building a successful case, it is typically wise for anyone pursuing a wrongful termination claim to secure legal representation.