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After FMLA leave, build bullet-proof case before firing

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in Firing,FMLA Guidelines,Human Resources

It’s certainly possible to terminate an employee who returns from FMLA leave—if you have good reasons un­­related to the FMLA.

Recent case: Linda Gibbs worked for a body and bath products company without problems until she was diagnosed with sleep apnea and took FMLA leave. She came back, but was criticized for dozing off at work. Then she took more FMLA leave for hernia surgery.

While she was out, someone accused Gibbs of stealing products for her husband to sell at a flea market. Gibbs was fired shortly after returning from FMLA leave for breaking a noncompete agreement.

She sued, alleging retaliation for taking FMLA leave. The court said the case could go to trial partly because there was little evidence Gibbs stole anything. (Gibbs v. Caswell-Massey, No. A-2996-10T4, Superior Court of New Jersey, 2011)

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