FMLA and Wrongful Termination: What Are the Exceptions?
The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) was signed into law in 1993. The law provides workers with job protection and unpaid leave for medical and family reasons. While this law is meant to prevent wrongful termination, many workers have been fired during or after a family or medical leave.
Workplace discrimination lawyers at Chanfrau & Chanfrau work with people in Daytona Beach, FL, and Palm Coast, FL, to pursue compensation related to wrongful termination damages. However, it is important that workers know there are some exceptions regarding FMLA and wrongful termination. Here we go over the situations in which an employee can be lawfully terminated following FMLA leave.
Under the FMLA workers are allowed to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave during a 12-month period. This leave can be taken to attend to one’s own medical needs or those of a family member. Workers are due the protections provided by FMLA as long as they meet the following qualifications:
- Their employer has 50 or more employees within a 75 mile radius
- They have worked for the employer for at least 12 months (time does not have to be consecutive)
- They have worked at least 1,250 hours during the 12 months prior to the leave
In addition to providing workers with unpaid leave, FMLA ensures that workers return to their same job (or one that is equivalent) when they return from their leave.
Exceptions to FMLA Protections
Generally speaking, FMLA provides job protections that prevent workers from being terminated while they are on medical leave or immediately upon returning from legally protected medical leave. However, there are a few exceptions that employees should be aware of.
Exceptions include situations in which an employee would be terminated regardless of having taken FMLA leave. For example, Daytona Beach employees can be legally fired during or after FMLA leave if it is due to one of the following reasons:
- Downsizing - If a company is in the process of downsizing by eliminating a department, location, or role, then an employee can be fired despite the status of FMLA leave.
- Layoffs - Sometimes companies cut back on expenses by laying off a certain number of staff or employees. An employee can be legally laid off if the decision to include them in the layoff is not related to FMLA leave.
- Performance or behavior issues - Employers have the right to terminate a worker if they have had issues regarding job performance or behavior in the workplace. Terminations for these reasons can take place regardless of FMLA protections.
What if I Believe I’ve Been Wrongfully Terminated?
Employers are aware of FMLA protections, so they may attempt to get around these protections by stating that a termination is related to one of the abovementioned FMLA wrongful termination exceptions. If a worker believes that the termination is related to their leave, they may have grounds to file a wrongful termination claim. Any worker who believes that their employee rights have been violated should contact a wrongful termination lawyer to consider their legal options.
Contact Chanfrau & Chanfrau
If you have been fired following a medical leave, your employer may be in violation of the Family and Medical Leave Act. To discuss your concerns with the lawyers at Chanfrau & Chanfrau, contact our law firm online, or call (386) 258-7313 and request a legal consultation.