If an employee has been granted FMLA leave, his or her employer cannot take adverse actions against that person. One employer that violated the Michigan Persons with Disabilities Civil Rights Act was found liable for $500,000 in damages for doing just that. The case involved an employee at Covenant Medical Center, Inc. who was told to take continuous leave after a supervisor raised concerns about her taking intermittent FMLA leave.
The woman complied by taking several weeks off of work to handle a mental issue. However, she found out that she had been reassigned after returning to her job, and her discrimination suit claims that she was disciplined for issues that did not exist. The woman was eventually fired after several other disciplinary actions. According to the suit, her performance was received positively and there had been no disciplinary issues prior to the medical leave.
Although the company tried to dispute the allegations in the lawsuit, a jury decided in favor of the employee on June 17. Her $500,000 award consisted of $30,000 for lost wages, $25,000 for emotional distress and $445,000 as compensation for future damages. Those who study the issue say that managers should receive training as to dealing with employees with disabilities or those who wish to take leave in accordance with FMLA.
If eligible, employees may take medical leave or leave to care for family members without fear of retaliation. In the event that retaliation or other adverse actions occur, an employee may wish to take legal action against the employer. It may be possible to obtain compensation for lost wages as well as for benefits that may have been lost because of improper termination. Reinstatement may also be an option if the employee wants to return to a previous position.