Company Ordered To Pay Double Damages For Interfering With Worker’s Right To Take Leave

Under several circumstances federal law requires that your employer allow you to take approved leave. These include taking leave to care for a new baby or a family member with a serious health condition. Additionally, if you have a serious health condition the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provides that employers must allow eligible employees to take up to 12 weeks unpaid leave.

Although some limitations exist before you may be eligible, once you meet the requirements for leave the FMLA protects you in certain ways, such as requiring an employer to restore you to your job at the same rate of pay and same benefits as before the leave.

In a recent case out of Ohio, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals determined that an employer had interfered with a worker’s leave and required the employer to pay double damages to a fired worker. In Thom v. American Standard, Inc. the 6th Circuit reviewed whether American Standard violated a molder’s rights when the company terminated the worker while he was on leave for shoulder surgery and before he was scheduled to return to work.

If you have questions concerning your right to take leave, or if you believe your employer interfered with your leave rights, it is important to consult with an experienced employment discrimination attorney in Atlanta to review your circumstance and determine your next steps.

Here, the company amended its FMLA policy but did not inform it’s employees of the changes. When the employee, Carl Thom, requested leave it did not let him know that the amount of leave requested would exceeed the amount of time allowed pursuant to the FMLA. Thom was then fired and the company used his excess leave as justification for his discharge.

Both the lower court and the appellate court determined that American Standard interfered with Thom’s right to take leave when it first allowed him to take the leave without notifying him that it was using a new method to calculate leave, and then fired him when he did not return to work earlier.

The court concluded that employers “should inform their employees in writing of which method they will use to calculate the FMLA leave year…This standard is consistent with principles of fairness and general clarity.”

Many situations arise that may require taking leave. If you are unsure of your right to take leave or feel you have been discriminated as the result of taking leave, it is important to speak to a knowledgeable disability discrimination attorney at once. For more information contact the dedicated Georgia Family and Medical Leave attorneys at Buckley Bala Wilson Mew LLP for an immediate case evaluation.