When someone gets hired at a new job, it can be an exciting time. New employees are often especially driven to prove themselves to their new employer and develop a good working relationship. However, new employees also have to be cautious, because, in many cases, employers are watching closely to see if a new hire fits in with the company dynamics. Some employers are also wary of new employees who need to take time off of work early in their period of employment. For one such employee, this very type of situation appears to have led to litigation.
According to a recent article, the employee, a 56-year-old woman who was hired in 2009 by the Oregon Institute of Technology to serve as an acquisitions administrator, was diagnosed with a disease approximately 20 months after she started her new position. Shortly after learning this bad news the employee took 12 weeks of unpaid leave, as is allowed by the Family Medical Leave Act. When she returned to work after this period of leave it appears she ran into all kinds of problems.
The woman alleges in her lawsuit that a new employee, who was reportedly hired to fulfill her duties while she was on leave, had in essence taken over all of her former responsibilities, leaving her with little to do at the office. She was subsequently informed by the employer that her position would be terminated, and was later informed that she was to be laid off because of "redundancy" at her position. As a result, the employee resigned.
Discrimination based on using the benefits of the federal FMLA law is prohibited. The FMLA requires that employees who need to take this unpaid leave should be reinstated to their former position, or one that is essentially equal in stature. This case is just getting started, with at least one court date on the horizon.
Source: Mail Tribune, "Ex-Ashland resident sues OIT for $460,000," Sam Wheeler, July 5, 2013