Family And Medical Leave Act Claim Revived After Worker Fired For Taking Leave After Surgery In Shaffer v. American Med. Ass’n

A recent case determined that a man who was fired following surgery could bring a claim under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).

The FMLA is a federal employment law that provides protection for eligible employees to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave from their jobs annually under certain circumstances. These include, but are not limited to:

• When you have a serious health condition • To care for a family member who has a serious health condition, and • For the birth of or care of a newborn or adopted child.

If you are eligible for leave and follow all notice requirements, the FMLA protects you from adverse employment actions. This means that your employer cannot interfere with your rights to take FMLA leave by denying your request or requiring notice or disclosures beyond those required by the act. It also means that your employer must restore you to your job after your FMLA leave has ended. Additionally, the FMLA protects employees from retaliation. This means that if your employer takes negative actions against you after asking for leave, you may have a claim for FMLA retaliation.

If you believe your employer has interfered with your FMLA rights or has retaliated against you for requesting leave, you may be able to file an FMLA lawsuit. An experienced Atlanta Family and Medical Leave attorney can provide crucial advice regarding your rights.

In Shaffer v. American Med. Ass’n, the AMA was preparing to reduce the size of its budget and downsize each of its departments. In late October, the decision was made to let one employee go. A few weeks later, William Shaffer, an employee of the American Medical Association, notified the association that he was having knee replacement surgery and was planning to take a four to six week leave and file a claim for short-term disability benefits. Shaffer’s supervisor then changed his decision regarding whom to fire and terminated Shaffer. The supervisor then sent his higher-up an email stating, “The team is already preparing for Bill’s short-term leave in January, so his departure should not have any immediate impact.”

In reviewing the managers action, Judge Ann C. Williams noted that the combination of the supervisor’s “11th hour” decision to terminate Shaffer, along with his actions to create a “paper trail ” masking any unlawful conduct could constitute a violation of the FMLA.

The FMLA was created to protect individuals in time of crisis, when you or a family member is in need of medical care. If your employer either denies your request to take leave or retaliates against you as a result of your request, you may be able to file a FMLA lawsuit and recover compensation. For more information contact the experienced Atlanta Family and Medical Leave attorneys at Buckley Bala Wilson Mew LLP for a confidential case evaluation.