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Termination close to FMLA leave can be problematic

Pennsylvania employees who lose their jobs during or soon after taking family leave sometimes accuse their employers of retaliation. Negative actions taken toward employees when they request time off under the Family and Medical Leave Act might impose liabilities on employers even if an employee had been receiving poor job evaluations.

The lawsuit of a man who alleged that his employer, a nursing care facility, fired him in retaliation for filing a leave request to care for his elderly father survived an initial review by the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. Although the court ruled that his additional claim of age discrimination had no merit, the court allowed his retaliation lawsuit to continue.

During his employment, the man received multiple negative performance evaluations. According to his employer, he failed to train subordinates, address security issues, return facility telephone calls or manage maintenance tasks. He also began to investigate the hours worked by his supervisor, an activity which included examining surveillance video. The company did not authorize his investigation. As he continued to receive written and verbal warnings from his employer, he completed paperwork for family leave time. His job termination soon followed. Because of the proximity in time to his leave request and job loss, the employer might have violated his legal rights.

Any person who suffered a job loss because of family leave or experienced other negative actions like a cut in hours or demotion might choose to discuss the situation with an attorney. A legal review of an employer's behavior could reveal violations of the Family and Medical Leave Act. After reviewing work records and communications between the employer and the client, an attorney could file a lawsuit seeking appropriate damages.

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