Massachusetts employees are already dealing with a difficult situation when a Family and Medical Leave Act leave is requested. The situation can be compounded when employers do not handle the approved leave in accordance with the law. A former hospital employee from another state claims that she suffered a wrongful termination after she took advantage of her benefits under the FMLA. Her claim against the hospital is now in federal court.
The plaintiff claims that, during her tenure, she performed her job effectively and did not have any employment issues. The woman had an approved intermittent leave to care for her mother under the FMLA. When she needed to use her time, she says she alerted her supervisors in an adequate amount of time and then took the time that she needed. This went on for several years without any adverse actions.
She alleges that she was given a warning later because she had too many absences and violated the company attendance policy. The disciplinary system was based on points, and if a worker had six points, he or she would counseled to try to resolve the issue so that a termination could be avoided. The plaintiff claims she was told that she had over 20 points. She contested the discipline, claiming that her leave was protected under the FMLA, but she says she was told that she had informed her supervisors incorrectly. Each time she needed to use her leave, she was required to mention that her time off was FMLA protected; she asserts that is what she did going forward.
When the time came for the plaintiff to fill out her certification work so she could continue using her leave, she was unable to make the deadline due to her mother's illness and requested more time. Although she apparently made her new deadline, she was told that it was not turned in on time, causing her previous FMLA absences to be considered as not excused. This allegedly translated into enough points to have her fired. She is suing her employer for wrongful termination and is seeking monetary damages. Massachusetts employees who exercise their rights to benefits under the FMLA and face retaliation or other adverse employment actions can speak with an employment law attorney to what steps may be appropriate to enforce their legal rights.
Source: wvrecord.com, "Woman accuses Select Specialty Hospital of wrongful termination", Kyla Asbury, Dec. 21, 2015