The Family Medical Leave Act is designed to allow employees extended periods of leave while they take care of ailing family, give birth, or face a myriad of other family and health situations. The act allows workers to return to their positions after an extended leave and protects them from losing their jobs. Employers are required by law to keep the job for them under FMLA and cannot terminate employees or give their job away while they are gone.
This, however, is exactly what happened to a woman who was given permission by a company to fly to Nicaragua to take care of her dying mother-in-law. Although the company gave the woman an okay to take an extended leave, for this reason, they later terminated her for missing too many days of work. When the woman returned to the states once her loved one passed, the company told her that her situation was not covered under FMLA because in-laws were not included in the law. Yet, an investigation initiated by a local news team found a loophole in California FMLA laws. While California’s paid leave law allows in-laws to be covered under the realm of care, in-laws are not covered under the California Family Rights Act. Further legislation will need to be conducted in order to clear this discrepancy.
Meanwhile, the court ruled that the woman is entitled to back pay and unemployment benefits. She was also given $211,795 in attorney fees and over $25,000 in court costs.
If you believe that you are involved in a wrongful termination case, you may want to contact an attorney regarding your rights and legal options.
Source: Fox KTVU 2 News, “Woman wins wrongful termination lawsuit after 2 investigates report,” Brooks Jarosz, May 22, 2019.