The Family and Medical Leave Act is a federal law that makes it illegal for an employer to terminate an employee who has taken qualified leave for a medical issue, such as a serious health condition or the birth of a child. In some cases, an employee may also use this leave to take care of an elderly parent, a spouse or child who has become ill.
While the Family and Medical Leave Act is designed to keep employers from penalizing those who take this type of leave, it is important to realize that FMLA does not, however, grant greater rights to an employee for reinstatement of his or her job or guarantee his or her continued employment. Instead, an employer may still choose to let an employee go regardless of whether he or she has FMLA leave status if there is actually a valid and legitimate reason for letting the employee go.
As an example, an employer could legally terminate an employee if while he or she was out on leave, the employer discovered that the employee had been breaking company rules or if there was evidence of poor performance that came to light. The employee could also be terminated if the employer discovered that while the employee was out on leave, fraud was committed, or the employee engaged in act of insubordination. He or she could also be let go due to a company layoff, provided that the employee was not chosen as part of the layoff due to the fact that he or she was out on FMLA leave.
Individuals who believe they are facing FMLA violations may find it beneficial to learn more about their legal rights as they pertain to their own personal situation.