Most people know that the Family Medical Leave Act protects certain workers from losing their jobs after they have had a new baby. However, the FMLA goes farther than that and protects people who need to take time off of work to care for an ailing family member. For workers who qualify, their employer must hold their job for them for up to 12 weeks. Furthermore, employees can not face retaliation for taking this necessary time off.

Recently, a California police officer has claimed that he has been fired after exercising his rights under the FMLA — he has since filed a wrongful termination suit. According to this police officer, he was fired because he frequently needed to take time off of work to care for his sick mother. The man claims that his mother suffers from a variety of ailments including seizures, degenerative arthritis and bipolar disorder. Furthermore, the police officer claims that the department would frequently call the family’s doctor to ensure that the man’s mother was actually sick.

The police department, on the other hand, claims that the man was fired for poor performance. According to the department, he failed his performance review, missed shifts and failed to properly do his job. They claim that he didn’t even make any arrests in 2009 or 2010.

It is important for California workers to understand that not every employee will qualify for the FMLA. Federal guidelines have limited the scope of this employee law. Employees should make sure they understand whether or not they qualify for protection, and what they need to do to ensure that their job will be held for them. Employees who have faced retaliation, like the police officer in this case, should seek help in enforcing their rights.

Source: Lawyers and Settlements, “Former Deputy Fights California Wrongful Termination,” Gordon Gibb, Aug. 29, 2013