If you terminate an employee the day he comes back from, plan on getting sued. Timing alone can be enough for the court to let a jury decide the case. That’s true even if your past practices in similar cases don’t show any pattern of interference.
Recent case: Abid Ghaffar worked for 10 years for a small chain of stores in New York. He took FMLA leave and traveled to Pakistan to care for sick relatives. The day he returned, he was informed that he no longer had a job, allegedly because of.
Ghaffar sued, alleging interference with his right to take FMLA leave. His former employer said it couldn’t have singled out Ghaffar for FMLA interference because it had recently granted leave to several other employees who also left the country to care for relatives. None of them had been fired.
The court didn’t buy the argument. It said timing alone justified a trial. (Ghaffar v. Willoughby 99 Cent, No. 09-CV-509, ED NY, 2010)
Final notes: Remember, employees can take FMLA leave to care for qualified relatives in other countries. There’s nothing in the FMLA or its regulations that restricts FMLA leave to the United States. You can still ask for medical certifications, though the information may be harder to obtain and may require translation.
Employees may even request FMLA leave to travel internationally for their own medical treatment.
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