Were you counting on having your job when you returned from taking FMLA only to be fired while on your leave or soon after your return?
Depending on the circumstances, you might have a wrongful termination case that you can bring to court in Baton Rouge, LA.
Legally, you cannot be fired because you took FMLA, but you can – under very specific circumstances – legally be fired while you are on FMLA or soon after you return. The tricky part is determining if your employer fired you because you took FMLA even while claiming otherwise.
FMLA (The Family and Medical Leave Act) is a federal law that allows qualifying employees at qualifying workplaces to take twelve weeks of unpaid leave per year to attend to their own medical issues or to care for a sick member of their immediate family. According to Nolo, FMLA applies only to companies with 50 or more employees who are located within 75 miles of each other. To qualify, employees must have worked for at least one year for the employer, and at least 1,250 hours in the year prior.
Does FMLA Give You Job Security?
FMLA exists to provide workers with the ability to keep their jobs while dealing with either their own physical or mental health issues or those of an immediate family member.
Except under very limited circumstances (which we will cover below), your employer may not terminate you if you are on FMLA or because you are taking FMLA. Normally, when you return from FMLA the law requires your employer to employ you in your former position or one that is very similar.
The FMLA also has an anti-retaliation provision, which means that employers cannot fire employees for requesting or taking FMLA.
When Can An Employer Legally Terminate You During Your FMLA?
Firing an employee while they are on FMLA or after they have requested it will usually cause suspicions as to whether the decision was appropriate and legally acceptable.
The reason you were terminated must be completely unrelated to your request or use of FMLA. Your termination can not be for retaliation purposes or with the intent of keeping other employees from taking FMLA.
Under law, your employer can only fire you if they would have made the same decision regardless of you taking FMLA.
HR Daily Advisor explains a few situations when it might be legally permissible for an employer to fire you while you’re on FMLA:
- If you meet requirements that would have resulted in being let go anyway. In a legal case, your employer must prove that these issues were documented and discussed before you took leave. For example, if your employer can document that you engaged in:
- Poor job performance
- Disciplinary issues
- Illegal activities such as fraud or other crimes
- Noncompliance with job requirements
- If your termination was required by downsizing, your employer must prove that this would have happened whether or not you took FMLA.
- If you exceed 12 weeks of FMLA during a year.
What Are Your Rights?
FMLA gives you (if you’re a qualifying employee at a qualifying company) the right to take leave for situations such as the birth of a child or a serious health condition. During your FMLA your employer is not legally permitted to cut your health insurance or pressure you to come back to work before your FMLA is up.
FMLA protects employees against discrimination. However, that doesn’t mean that employers don’t discriminate. Unfortunately, sometimes employers do use FMLA against their employees when making decisions regarding promotions, disciplinary actions, layoffs, or terminations.
If your FMLA rights were violated through a wrongful termination or other retaliatory action, you can fight back! Unless they want a lawsuit on their hands, your employer must be able to prove that they would have had cause to fire you even if you didn’t take FMLA.
How Can An Attorney Help
If you were fired or disciplined because you took FMLA, an attorney can help you prove it. An attorney can look at the evidence to discover when the decision was made to fire you or discipline you and if it was because you took FMLA leave. For example, if there is documentation that proves that the decision was made while you were on leave or after you requested it, you have a better chance of winning your case.
If your employer fired you with unethical, discriminatory, or retaliatory motivations in Baton Rouge, you might have grounds for a wrongful termination lawsuit. Miller, Hampton, & Hilgendorf is here to help you get the compensation you’re owed.
3960 Government St.
Baton Rouge, LA 70806