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Employee says she was fired for giving notice of leave under FMLA

Readers in the Denver area will be interested to hear of a lawsuit involving a woman who said she was harassed and wrongfully terminated for requesting leave under the Family Medical Leave Act. The woman had been employed at a senior community living facility for less than 12 months when she gave notice that she was pregnant and would need to take leave after the birth of her child. Even though the FMLA requires a person to work for 12 months before becoming eligible for leave, the woman in this case would have been eligible by the time her leave commenced.

The woman said that soon after she had given notice, her managers began to harass and discriminate against her, unduly criticizing her work. She said she had been considered a model employee until she gave the FMLA notification. The discrimination apparently continued, and her employment was terminated prior to the time her leave would have started.

In response, the woman sued her former employer, saying that her managers retaliated against her and interfered with her right to take FMLA leave. Initially, her case was dismissed in a federal district court, which ruled that the employer could not have interfered with the woman's rights under FMLA, since she was not eligible for FMLA leave when she gave her request.

A court of appeals disagreed, however, overturning the federal court's ruling. The appeals court ruled that, since the woman would have been eligible for FMLA leave by the time her child was born, she could still take leave under FMLA.

In short, the ruling prevents employers from being free to fire an employee just to keep that person from becoming eligible for FMLA leave.

Residents in Aurora who have concerns about the Family Medical Leave Act would likely benefit from consulting with a Denver-area attorney who focuses on employment law. Such a legal professional can help ensure that all of the rights of employees are upheld, and that employers are held accountable in cases of workplace discrimination.

Source: hrmorning.com, "Can you interfere with worker's FMLA rights, if she's not yet eligible for leave?," Christian Schappel, Jan. 25, 2012

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