FMLA Wrongful Termination Exceptions

By Gregory Thyberg on January 16, 2020


A mother and her infant childSigned into law in 1993, the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provides employees with protected unpaid leave for medical or family reasons. This allows you to tend to your loved ones or give yourself ample time to heal. Sadly, even these FMLA protections do not prevent wrongful termination.

Employment law attorney Gregory A. Thyberg can help people in the greater Sacramento, CA who have been fired for taking unpaid medical leave. That said, there are exceptions to FMLA protections. Let’s go over these below, while also providing an overview of the FMLA.

Protections Under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)

The FMLA allows eligible employees to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave during a 12-month period. This unpaid leave may be taken in order to care for a newborn, recover from a serious illness or injury, or to care for an ailing family member. During this 12 weeks of unpaid leave, the employee cannot lose their job or be terminated solely because they are taking an approved leave from work.

Circumstances in Which You Can Be Let Go Even with the FMLA

While the FMLA will protect workers from termination and harassment for taking unpaid medical or family leave, there are exception to the law’s protections. If an employee was going to lose their job regardless of taking leave, the job loss will not be covered by the FMLA.

Examples of exceptions to the FMLA include:

  • Downsizing - Your company may be in the process of downsizing, which could involve eliminating a department that you worked for. In such cases, an employee taking unpaid leave may still be let go as part of such companywide cuts.
  • Layoffs - If an entire department isn’t being eliminated, your company may be laying off staff to cut costs or to run more efficiently. In such cases, a person who was going to be laid off regardless of taking medical leave will not be protected by the FMLA.
  • Issues with Performance or Behavior - If you have complaints against you at work due to job performance or behavior on the job, this could lead you to be let go regardless of taking unpaid leave and the FMLA.

Do You Feel Like You Were Fired Despite FMLA Protections?

Your employer may say there were other reasons that led to your termination, but that could be a front. There are numerous cases in which companies make excuses for firing or laying off employees who intend to take their protected medical leave.

If you believe that you were fired because of your intention to take an unpaid leave from your job, it’s important to report it soon as possible. Gather emails and any other documentation that suggests you were terminated for taking family or medical leave. You should then file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) so an investigation can be made.

How Our Lawyers Can Help

If you were discriminated against or wrongfully fired due to taking unpaid leave, our Sacramento law firm will help hold your employer accountable for their actions. We will attempt to negotiate a fair settlement, and can take the case all the way to trial if needed. Our legal team will provide sound legal counsel every step of the way.

Learn More About Wrongful Termination Lawsuits

If you or a loved one was let go from your job despite protections by the FMLA, we encourage you to contact a trusted wrongful termination attorney. The legal team at ThybergLaw can be reached by phone in Sacramento at (916) 204-9173.

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