Watch calendar if you plan to fire following FMLA leave

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in Employment Law,FMLA Guidelines,Human Resources

Employers that fire employees right after they return from FMLA leave run a risk that the timing alone will be seen as proof of retaliation. Unless you are absolutely sure you can convince a judge or jury that the termination is justified, it makes sense to wait a month or so.

Recent case: Renee Rooks took FMLA leave and was terminated 55 days after she returned to work. She sued, alleging she had been fired because she took FMLA leave. She said the timing alone proved her case.

The court disagreed and dismissed her case. It gave examples where timing was enough to send a case to the jury—such as a termination a few minutes or within 24 hours of returning to work. Fifty-five days didn’t cut it. (Rooks v. Alloy Surfaces, No. 09-839, ED PA, 2010)

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