Seeking Treatment For Alcoholism May Entitle Employees To Leave Under The FMLA

A recent case determined that a man with alcoholism may bring a lawsuit against his employer for retaliation claims under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Under the FMLA, employees battling “serious health conditions” may be able to take up to 12-weeks of unpaid leave. In the recent case, a male employee who was suffering from alcoholism requested leave to receive treatment. Officials at his company, John Crane, Inc., approved the leave.

But, even though the company approved the leave they still docked the employee’s “absence points.” Less than 2 weeks after the man came back to work, he was fired. The company blamed it on “absenteeism.”

A Texas court questioned the company’s reasons for firing the man, and Judge Janis G. Jack reached the following conclusions:

• The employer may have used “absenteeism” as an excuse to fire the employee, when they may have really been firing him for his alcoholism;
• Alcoholism could be considered a “serious health condition” entitling employees to leave under the FMLA;
• Even if alcoholism isn’t covered by the FMLA, the employee relied on his employer’s word that he was in taking the leave, so he shouldn’t be fired; and • It could be considered retaliation to fire someone on approved leave for alcohol treatment.

In many situations, a serious health condition will entitled you to unpaid leave. If your requests for leave are denied or you are subjected to negative employment consequences as a result, you may be able to bring a claim under the FMLA.

The Atlanta employment lawyers at Buckley Bala Wilson Mew LLP have been helping protect employee’s rights for many years. If you have questions concerning leave or believe you have been treated negatively at work as a result of taking leave, please contact one of our dedicated Georgia employee’s rights attorneys.