Many American employees, including thousands in Colorado, fall under the protections of the Family Medical Leave Act. For those who do, knowing that there are legal protections available in the unfortunate event that they need to take a leave of absence from their job is comforting. However, the reality is that many employees are subjected to discrimination when they return from a leave taken under the protections of the FMLA, in the form of retaliation from their employer.
These are some of the circumstances that one employee alleged in a case that recently settled for a reported $125,000 payout. According to the reports, the 59-year-old employee of a university claimed that a persistent state of harassment in her workplace led to significant health problems, including anxiety and depression. The problems were so bad in fact, that the employee also alleged that these were the main reasons for a suicide attempt. Then, to make matters worse, after the employee took FMLA leave to address her mental and physical health problems, she was subjected to further harassment and retaliation upon her return to work.
The reports indicate that this case was actually getting close to going to trial when the settlement agreement was reached. As is typical with most settlement agreements, the university where this employee worked is not admitting any wrongdoing and the lawsuit will be dismissed. The former employee will not be able to work for the university again.
Employment discrimination based on the need to take leave under the FMLA is illegal. Unfortunately, it does occur. Hopefully in this case the former employee will be able to take the payout she received in the settlement and address her health problems and move on with her life.
Source: beaumontenterprise.com, "Iowa to pay $125,000 to ex-college worker," Ryan J. Foley, April 9, 2014