A recent study revealed a troubling finding – that the nation’s largest private employer may be punishing employees who lawfully take “sick days” or leave. Such actions may violate worker’s rights under the American’s with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). According to the report, issued by A Better Balance, and referenced in the New York Times, Walmart “routinely refuses to accept doctors’ notes, penalizes workers who need to take care of a sick family member and otherwise punishes employees for lawful absences.” See here for the complete story: Walmart Is Accused of Punishing Workers for Sick Days.
The ADA and the ADAAA, as well as the FMLA likely prohibit such conduct. The ADA, and the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act (ADAAA), ban employers from discriminating against “qualified individuals with a disability” in the terms and conditions of employment. The ADA also prohibits disability harassment and retaliation against you for complaining about disability discrimination or for participating in someone else’s disability discrimination case.
Additionally, pursuant to the FMLA, eligible employees may take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave from their jobs annually in the following circumstances:
- For your own serious health condition;
- To care for your family members who have a serious health condition; and
- For the birth or care of a newborn or adopted child.
Further, if you do need to leave for a medical condition or to care for a family member, the FMLA protects your job, and provides that as long as you provide the necessary documentation, you are absolutely entitled to take leave, and your employer is prohibited from interfering with that right.
Actions that inhibit or obstruct your right to take leave, such as imposing additional restrictions, not giving you your job back when returning from leave, or retaliating against you for take leave, may constitute violations of the FMLA. Employers who are found to have committed these violations may be required to pay damages including back wages and compensation, as well as attorney’s fees.
Here, several employees assert that Walmart has denied their requests to take leave, even when presented with doctors’ notes. Last month, a complaint was also filed against the company asserting that it discriminated against pregnant workers.
Walmart has denied these claims.
If you believe that you have been unfairly denied leave or discriminated against due to a medical condition, it is important to talk to an experienced Atlanta medical leave attorney immediately to help protect your rights.
For more information, please contact our dedicated team of Georgia employment law attorneys at Buckley Bala Wilson Mew LLP for an immediate, confidential case evaluation.