It’s crucial to prepare accurate notes about any meeting in which managers are discussing whether to terminate someone. Make sure those notes are so clear that they can’t be open to multiple interpretations.
Otherwise, a jury might hear a simple question like, “Can we get in legal hot water for firing someone on disability leave?” as “Let’s find a way to get rid of her!”
Recent case: Rosalyn Grace went on after a bout with asthma landed her in the hospital. When she was ready to return, the company informed her it had outsourced her job to an IT firm. Grace sued.
During the lawsuit’s discovery phase, she learned that while discussing her termination, the director of operations said he understood the firm needed “a legitimate business reason” to fire Grace because she was “out on disability.” Otherwise, he said, the company might be sued.
A note in the file said, “Can lawyers construct a way to make it doable?” That was enough for the court to order a jury trial. (Grace v. USCAR and Bartech, No. 06-2509, 6th Cir., 2008)
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- Don't pry too deeply when seeking proof of sick leave
- You can't ask employees to sign away FMLA rights
- Analyze EAP caller data to learn about employee concerns
- Isn't there a California state program that covers paid family leave?
- Feel free to discipline or fire if it's warranted -- regardless of employee's FMLA status