When slapped with discipline shortly after taking, some employees jump to the conclusion that it’s retaliation for taking time off. That would be illegal, and could prompt a lawsuit.
Don’t make their legal case easy. Make sure you can show that the reason you administered discipline had nothing to do withleave.
Recent case: Murad took FMLA leave when his wife gave birth. When he returned, he refused to work overtime, arguing that his wife needed him at home. He was allowed to skip the overtime.
Then, co-workers convincedthat Murad wasn’t just refusing overtime, but had been fudging his work hours, too. A supervisor asked HR to review timecard records and data from the security system that tracked employees’ comings and goings. They showed that Murad often punched out at some point every day for approximately 30 minutes, but continued working. Then, he would later leave the property for an hour. In other words, it looked like he was taking a half-hour lunch, but was really taking an hour. More records checks showed this had been going on for about two years. Murad was fired for cheating on his time.
He sued, claiming he was fired for taking FMLA leave.
The court tossed out his case, reasoning that the company had solid proof it disciplined him for cheating, not taking FMLA leave. (Ameen v. Amphenol Printed Circuits, No. 14-1086, 1st Cir., 2015)
- How to Fire an Employee the Legal Way: 6 Termination Guidelines
- Before canceling health insurance, beware FMLA trap that could cost big bucks
- Start 'leave meter' running at first absence
- Can we ask employee to use paid leave before receiving workers' comp benefits
- Can a wellness program reduce absenteeism?