The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) can be extremely helpful for employees who have personal health issues or are taking care of family members or loved ones with serious health conditions. It not only allows employees to take extended leave for medical reasons, but also gives them job protection at their current employer.
But just how protected is your job when you’re on leave? Can you still be fired while you’re on FMLA?
The FMLA offers up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave for the following qualified reasons:
In order to be eligible for FMLA, the following requirements must be met:
The FMLA can be extremely useful to those who legitimately need it – but it can be an extremely tricky topic to tackle, especially when it comes to termination.
The job protection mandated by FMLA is, for the most part, solid – there are very few reasons that someone can be terminated while on leave.
The most common reason is if you violate the agreement set forth between you and your employer. The specific terms of your FMLA should clearly state the specific reasons for your leave, including any verification or certification from licensed professionals. Due to the ever-growing concerns of FMLA fraud, some companies may be more strict than others in gathering proof at regular intervals during your leave.
Additionally, you can still be terminated for reasons unrelated to FMLA leave. Common reasons include:
The bottom line is that companies cannot fire you while you are on leave, or for any reasons directly related to leave. However, if a company wants to terminate you, they will unfortunately be able to find any reason to do so, under the guise of poor performance or violation in company policy. Here are some things you can do to minimize your risk of FMLA termination:
Ultimately, the FMLA makes it more difficult for employers to terminate employees on leave – but not impossible. The act makes it necessary for employers to provide thorough, exhaustive proof of fireable offenses before formally terminating an employee on leave.
Maintaining thorough documentation is the key to fighting wrongful termination and possible retaliation by the employers. Remember, the ball’s in the employer’s court when it comes to FMLA – it’s up to them to provide strict evidence that is overwhelmingly in their favor.
If you’ve been terminated while on leave and you feel it’s happened under false or unfair pretenses, it may be time to consult an attorney at Florin Gray Bouzas Owens, LLC to see if you have a valid case against your employer.