FMLA Cited in Wrongful Termination Employment Lawsuit

A woman has filed a labor lawsuit stating that her employer wrongfully fired her rather than make reasonable accommodations for her doctor-verified illness.sadsillohette

Our Costa Mesa employment lawyers know that this case centers on a federal law known as the Family and Medical Leave Act. The law has strict applications, but it is intended to protect the jobs of those who need leave for specified medical emergencies pertaining to either the employee or the employee’s family.

Workers who are approved of FMLA are entitled to a total of 12 work weeks’ worth of leave over the course of one year under the following conditions:

  • The birth of a child and to care for a newborn child within the first year of birth;
  • The adoption or foster care of a newly-placed child within one year of placement;
  • To help care for a spouse, child or parent who has a serious health condition;
  • To cope with a serious health condition that makes the worker unable to perform essential functions of the job;
  • Any exigency arising out of the fact that the worker’s spouse, son, daughter or parent is on active military duty;
  • A worker may be given 26 work weeks of leave in a year to provide care to a military servicemember who has suffered serious illness or injury.

This may seem relatively broad, but it assumes that the employee works for a covered employer, which is one that is a private-sector company with 50 or more employees over the course of 20 or more workweeks. All public employers are subject to the law, as are all private schools. Employees have to have worked for the company at least one year and have at least 1,250 of service logged over the last year.

In this case, which is out of Massachusetts, the woman, a mother-of-two, was employed at an FMLA-eligible supermarket bakery. The worker was reportedly unable to report to work on time on several occasions due to a medical condition that prevented her body from absorbing proper nutrients, leading to extreme weight loss and fatigue.

She was rarely more than 20 minutes late, but there were a few occasions when she was more than an hour late.

She had previously received clearance to have her hours reduced unpaid under FMLA.

However, the supermarket turned around and fired her anyway.

The woman alleges that such action was not only discriminatory based on the Americans with Disabilities Act, it violated FMLA and it wasn’t even necessary. According to her, the job duties to which she was assigned as manager could often be completed during off-hours. She said that a failure to have the work done within those 20 minutes to an hour did not create an undue hardship on the employer, and as such, the company had an obligation to extend her this accommodation.

She makes a strong case.

The issue of illness and the workplace is one that has gained renewed traction in California in recent months. A number of California labor groups are fighting to increase paid sick time benefits, saying that about 4.5 million workers in the state – about 40 percent of the total – lack sick pay benefits.

Costa Mesa employment lawsuits can be filed with the help of the Nassiri Law Group, practicing in Orange County, Riverside and Los Angeles. Call 714-937-2020.

Additional Resources:

Woman Sues Shaw’s, claiming wrongful termination over illness, July 27, 2013, By Tricia L. Nadolny, Concord Monitor

More Blog Entries:

Tipped Workers Stiffed by Court in Starbucks Lawsuit, July 21, 2013, Costa Mesa Employment Lawyer Blog