The Family Medical Leave Act was passed into law to protect employees in the event of a medical emergency. Under the terms of FMLA, an employee is able to legally retain their position while taking up to 12 weeks of unpaid time off. While FMLA is commonly associated with maternity leave, employees may also take leave under FMLA when dealing with an illness, family tragedy or ailing loved one.
Employees who believe they have suffered discrimination related to a FLMA leave may choose to take legal action. Such is the case for one former city employee who claims she was fired after attempting to take time off under FLMA. The woman recently filed a lawsuit against the city and her former employer, citing she was discriminated against and wrongly terminated.
Prior to being fired, the plaintiff regularly worked 70 hours per week and was available to her employers round-the-clock. When the home in which the plaintiff lived was found to contain mold and her family members fell ill, she requested time off to deal with the matter. Prior to this, the plaintiff received nothing but praise and accolades from her employer related to job performance.
After requesting time off to deal with medical issues and find a new home for her family, however, the woman was told by her employer that she was not showing enough dedication to her career. Upon receiving this criticism, the woman submitted a request to her employer's human resources department for FLMA leave. She was then informed via a letter that she had been terminated.
In this case, not only were the actions of the defendants unconscionable, but such actions are also illegal. Individuals who have suffered similar discriminatory acts related to age, sexual or racial discrimination or in relation to a FLMA leave would be wise to consult with an employment attorney.
Source: News Review, "Did Sacramento City Councilwoman Angelique Ashby fire an employee for getting sick?" Cosmo Garvin, April 11, 2013