California nurse sues employer over FMLA violations

When many people think of the Family Medical Leave Act, they may think of employment protection for pregnant woman. However, the FMLA applies in many situations — not just when an employee is pregnant. Under this federal employment law, employees can take unpaid leave for up to 12 weeks without losing their jobs under certain circumstances including a qualified medical reason, family illness and for the birth or adoption of a baby.

However, not all employees qualify for FMLA protections and some employers do not follow the law’s requirements. In a recent California case, a nurse has sued her former employer claiming that her former employer, Kaiser, violated the FMLA and wrongfully fired her.

In this case, the woman left work in Aug. 2012 to help care for her ailing mother. Her mother had just undergone a full hip replacement. During her leave, the woman claims that her supervisor constantly called her to complain about her leave. She also said her boss left harassing and threatening phone messages urging the woman to return to work.

In Sept. 2012, the woman returned to her job and claimed that once she returned she still faced harassment about the leave. The woman was eventually placed on a suspension before being fired in December.

In her suit, the woman claims Kaiser wrongfully terminated her by firing her in retaliation for her taking protected medical leave. She is seeking various damages including special, non-economic, economic and general damages.

Under the FMLA, qualifying employees are allowed to take leave to care for a parent when that parent has a serious health condition. A serious health condition includes an illness, injury or other impairment that requires multiple treatments or long-term supervision, among other factors.

If an employee, like the nurse in this case, faces harassment, retaliation or is fired because of a medical leave then that employee may be entitled to damages for this illegal behavior.

Source: Courthouse News Service, “Took Care of Mom, Fired From Kaiser, Nurse Says,” Philip A. Janquart, April 2, 2013

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