Perhaps it's my imagination, but it seems like I am getting at least two or three inquiries each week from persons who believe they were improperly terminated in violation of the Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”) — and some of them may have a case!
Just last week we settled a case where an employee of a retail store in Towson suffered a serious leg injury while working and went to the emergency room, where he was told that he would need surgery. He contacted his direct supervisor, advised him that he was in the hospital and told him he would likely be out of work for at least a few weeks. Two days later, when the employee stopped by the store to pick up the workers comp paperwork, he was told that his employment was terminated, because he “set a bad example for the other employees” by needing so much time off. In light of the fact that the employee was a full-time employee who had worked at the store for more than a year and suffered a substantial injury, he was entitled to twelve weeks of unpaid leave — instead, his employment was terminated. We quickly negotiated a favorable settlement with his employer.
Ultimately, while the FMLA poses many obstacles for employees and is seemingly designed to benefit only those employees who have worked for large corporations for more than one year, the FMLA may protect you if you are fired because you are suffering from a serious injury or medical problem or need to care for an immediate family member.