Passed in 1993, the Family and Medical Leave Act assures that covered employers offer leave to employees dealing with a serious medical issue or assisting a family member with a serious medical issue. One of the most common reasons that people use FMLA leave is for pregnancy and childbirth, but that is certainly not the only situation in which this leave is important. This leave is unpaid, but it is job-protected. This means that you cannot face termination from a covered employer for taking FMLA leave.
However, it is a myth that you cannot face termination while on FMLA leave. FMLA leave offers certain protections, but it does not guarantee that you cannot receive a pink slip while using FMLA leave.
Protections under FMLA
The Department of Labor takes FMLA leave and protections very seriously. With that in mind, no employer with over 50 employees in the state of Ohio can:
- Deny you FMLA leave for an eligible medical condition or situation
- Discourage you from using FMLA leave
- Force you to exhaust your paid vacation or sick time before taking FMLA leave
- Use FMLA leave absences in “no fault” attendance policies that ding employees for each unexcused absence
These protections are important, but FMLA leave does not make you bulletproof. If the employer has an issue with your performance or another business-related reason to terminate you, they can do so during your FMLA leave. In such cases, the employer does have to prove that the termination is not related to the leave. This means that the employer must show that you would have lost your job even if you had not taken leave.
If you harbor concerns about how your employer currently handles your FMLA leave, do not wait to contact a lawyer, and make sure you understand the laws. In most cases, you have two years from the date of the violation to make an allegation.