The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is meant to protect workers who need to take time off for their own medical issues or for specific family matters. One of these is that a person who has an immediate family member who has a serious illness can take unpaid leave for up to 12 weeks to assist the person. While there are some requirements for notice to the employer, this isn’t always possible.
One recent story that went viral showed the importance of these protections. A woman texted her boss to let her know that she wouldn’t be in for her shift because her son was on life support. The manager replied that she either had to show up or be fired. The exchange went on and eventually the woman shared screenshots of the texts on social media. In the end, the manager was terminated.
There are a lot of unknowns in this story. Some of them might have made a difference. For example, the FMLA requires that employees have at least 12 months of employment with a total of at least 1,250 hours. It isn’t certain if the woman met this requirement. There are also requirements for the employer, such as having to have at least 50 employees in a 75-mile radius in order to have to abide by the FMLA requirements.
Ultimately, employees need to know their rights so that they can ensure they are being respected. When FMLA violations occur, the employee might decide to take specific action to recover damages that occurred due to the employer’s unwillingness to comply with these laws.