Firing someone the day they return from FMLA time? No way — unless you like spending time in court, right?
It can be done — but only under certain circumstances.
A Midwest pig farm terminated a manager the day he came back from leave, citing financial reasons and performance reasons.
Two weeks later, they posted the position internally and hired a new manager.
The out-of-work-manager cried foul and took his ex-employer to court for FMLA discrimination, retaliation and interference.
His initial victory was overturned by the U.S. Court of Appeals, which said the employer was legally within its rights to give him walking papers — based on a series of conditions that existed at that time.
- The employer’s bank informed the business “immediate and drastic” steps needed to be taken due to financial problems
- The employer laid off 13 employees and reduced the size of its pig herd by 27%
- In the midst of reductions, the manager gave notice he was taking FMLA
- While he on leave, the company hierarchy discussed laying him off
- He previously had received several warnings about his job performance, and
- While he was out, his replacement did a great job — at lower wage.
In sum, the court ruled the employer had established non-discriminatory, non-retaliatory reasons for terminating the manager.
Economic hardship had forced several other terminations and it was determined this manager was a natural candidate for layoff since he was the highest-paid but lowest-producing member of the team.