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Workers can sue if they are fired during FMLA leave

by | Oct 26, 2016 | Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), Firm News |

Eligible workers in Pennsylvania and around the country have a legally protected right to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid time off from their jobs in order to deal with a family or medical issue. If an employer interferes with a worker’s decision to take leave or punishes them for taking leave, the employer could be sued for employment discrimination under the Family and Medical Leave Act.

In a New York case, a new father was fired from his job at a customer service call center while he was taking FMLA leave. He had requested two weeks of leave after his baby was born, and he was fired during the first week. A supervisor had called him in for a meeting to tell him that he was being fired for poor performance. According to the supervisor, the poor performance was discovered during a review of recorded customer calls.

Though the supervisor at the call center alleged that there were valid reasons to fire the man, the man sued his employer for employment discrimination. The case will be going to trial, and a jury will decide whether the employer illegally interfered with the man’s right to take FMLA leave and then retaliated against him for taking it.

Employers might claim that they have legitimate reasons to fire a worker right before, during or right after a period of FMLA leave. However, the timing of the termination is sometimes enough evidence of FMLA discrimination for the worker’s lawsuit to go to trial. People who are in this position may want to have an employment law attorney review the facts of their cases.