Under several circumstances federal law requires that your employer allow
you to take approved leave. These include taking leave to care for a new
baby or a family member with a serious health condition. Additionally,
if you have a serious health condition the
Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provides that employers must allow eligible employees to take up
to 12 weeks unpaid leave.
Although some limitations exist before you may be eligible, once you meet
the requirements for leave the FMLA protects you in certain ways, such
as requiring an employer to restore you to your job at the same rate of
pay and same benefits as before the leave.
In a recent case out of Ohio, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals determined
that an employer had interfered with a worker’s leave and required
the employer to pay double damages to a fired worker. In
Thom v. American Standard, Inc. the 6th Circuit reviewed whether American Standard violated a molder’s
rights when the company terminated the worker while he was on leave for
shoulder surgery and before he was scheduled to return to work.
If you have questions concerning your right to take leave, or if you believe
your employer interfered with your leave rights, it is important to consult
with an experienced
employment discrimination attorney in Atlanta to review your circumstance and determine your next steps.
Here, the company amended its FMLA policy but did not inform it’s
employees of the changes. When the employee, Carl Thom, requested leave
it did not let him know that the amount of leave requested would exceeed
the amount of time allowed pursuant to the FMLA. Thom was then fired and
the company used his excess leave as justification for his discharge.
Both the lower court and the appellate court determined that American
Standard interfered with Thom’s right to take leave when it first
allowed him to take the leave without notifying him that it was using
a new method to calculate leave, and then fired him when he did not return
to work earlier.
The court concluded that employers “should inform their employees
in writing of which method they will use to calculate the FMLA leave year…This
standard is consistent with principles of fairness and general clarity.”
Many situations arise that may require taking leave. If you are unsure
of your right to take leave or feel you have been discriminated as the
result of taking leave, it is important to speak to a knowledgeable disability
discrimination attorney at once. For more information contact the dedicated
Georgia Family and Medical Leave attorneys at The Buckley Law Firm, LLC for an immediate consultation.