Fired for Requesting FMLA Leave – Do I Have a Case?

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The Family and Medical Leave Act permits someone to take a leave of absence from a company to take care of family or when there is an extended medical problem with the employee. Those that work at the company are protected from discrimination, being passed over for promotion, discipline actions, being laid off and termination when using FMLA.

FMLA is part of the medical insurance and policies in place for employees that need to take a leave of absence with a greater number of days than simple sick days. These instances are usually reserved for maternal or paternal leave, prolonged illness, taking care of ill or very sick family and similar situations. The Act in place throughout the United States prohibits any type of discrimination when someone uses this leave. This could lead to litigation against the company if a violation of these policies occurs with the employer. At the very least, the employee may return to his or her job without any penalties. However, then it could be just a waiting game until he or she is fired for a petty but valid reason.

FMLA is provided to employees that meet the specified parameters. There are certain qualifications necessary that must be satisfied. The worker must have been employed for at least one full year and work for a business that has over 50 employees working at the company. Any medical or family leave that does not fall within these specifics is not covered by the FMLA policy. However, when the employee has satisfied these parameters, he or she is permitted to take the leave that is approved by the company’s HR department for the extended time. Then, discrimination for these actions is prohibited.

Adhering to the Specifics of FMLA

Employers are tasked with following and adhering to the guidelines in the FMLA. It is essential to ensure the employee has not followed the FMLA procedure properly before he or she may be terminated for extended medical or family leave. Otherwise, management must ensure the reasons for firing someone are not related to taking FMLA leave, that the termination is legitimate and valid and there are no discriminatory reasons involved. Notices must be posted by the employer in work areas about rights and obligations of FMLA. These also must exist in the handbook. If the employee must take an extended leave, he or she must specify it is for FMLA.

Complying with FMLA Explained

When taking leave, employees must be informed that the time they take is removed from what is available through FMLA. If the employer does not provide sufficient notice about the guidelines and specifics, the employee may be excused when he or she does not adhere to the proper procedures. When complying with FMLA, the worker is required to provide a 30 day notice before FMLA is covered properly. If the full amount of time cannot be taken, as much notice as possible is another requirement. When all other needs are satisfied, the employee is provided a twelve week period.

Violations and Starting a Case

Even though an employee has taken FMLA for a stated and approved reason, this does not exempt him or her from termination while on leave. However, the reason provided by the employer must be a legitimate one not based on taking FMLA leave. A company is prohibited from discrimination for these instances, and if it is proven the employer or management has, a lawsuit is possible. Generally, the reasons stated are due to performance issues, poor attendance or failed goals for the company. Termination may not occur until FMLA has started, but it could have been initiated before the leave.

If the employee has been performing within parameters, has not violated attendance or engaged in criminal activities, he or she has the right to use FMLA and return to work once his or her time has expired or before then. When a violation occurs by the employer against FMLA, it is imperative to hire a lawyer to start a case. Evidence must be gathered, and it must be determined that the termination was based on the leave.

Legal Battle for FMLA

Violations due to discrimination for employees taking leave with FMLA occur occasionally. Because of these instances, a lawyer is needed to fight the battle. When enough evidence exists, it is possible to show a judge and attempt to conclude with a positive result. The lawyer will protect the client from the unscrupulous actions of the company.


Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer.

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