Firing during FMLA leave may mean personal liability

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in FMLA Guidelines,Human Resources

In a bizarre legal twist, the 5th Cir­­cuit Court of Appeals has ruled that a supervisor who was sued over his decision to terminate an employee for taking FMLA leave may be personally liable for terminating her—despite the fact that the public employer may be immune to an FMLA lawsuit.

Recent case: Kristie sued her former boss at a state university after he approved her for FMLA leave and then fired her before she could return. He argued he was immune from personal liability as a state employee.

The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals disagreed. It noted that Kristie might not be able to sue her actual employer because it could claim sovereign immunity from suit. But that didn’t mean she couldn’t sue her supervisor for firing her while on leave. (Bellow v. LeBlanc, No. 13-30075, 5th Cir., 2013)

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Dennis Watson April 14, 2014 at 8:28 am

FMLA is the worst thing to happen to the work place. I am a state employee, and I know first hand as a supervisor how this game works. I have one right now who uses FMLA for everything. I have had her call in as sick on FMLA and then go to Krogers on my lunch break to find her there skipping around and shopping. Sound sick to you? Can I do anything about it? NO! Why because they are protected and are clearly abusing a system. My office production rates are down when she is gone and I have to pay the piper when my boss calls me on it. Legislature in our state will not allow more positions to be opened so I am stuck with a deadbeat employee who uses FMLA as a vacation program because she has Fibro-Myalgia which is just a BS diagnosis to begin with. It is an indication of a doctor who doesn’t put in any time to diagnose the real issue. And to boot this woman is nuts, my employees are actually scared fro their life when she is here. But nothing can be done about that either as states employees have more rights than their supervision.

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