It’s certainly possible to terminate an employee who returns from—if you have good reasons unrelated to the .
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)
- Document discharge reasons before taking action
- Beware overly broad drug policies, which could violate ADA rules about revealing a disability
- Be consistent: Don't slap harasser on wrist, then fire victim
- Key to beating lawsuit: Belief worker broke rule
- COBRA: Foolproof administration is key to compliance