Businesses invest a lot in their employees. Time and money spent training employees often places businesses in a vulnerable position as they must then often wish for the best and hope they’ve hired a qualified and conscientious employee. In cases where an employee attempts to file a lawsuit against a former employer for wrongful termination, discrimination or harassment; it’s critical that a business take steps to protect and defend their actions and assets.
Under the provisions of the Federal Medical Leave Act, qualified employees are able to take up to 12 weeks per year of unpaid leave. In order to qualify for FMLA, an employee must meet certain criteria and have a personal medical or family emergency that warrants the taking of such a leave.
A nurse’s lawsuit against her former employer in which she alleged she was wrongly terminated after taking FMLA leave, was recently dismissed. According to the lawsuit, the nurse struggled with mental health issues and had attempted suicide at least twice in her first year on the job. In an attempt to deal with her underlying mental health issues, the nurse took FMLA leave as well as additional time off to attend treatment and therapy sessions.
The nurse’s work performance, however, suffered. Appearing disoriented and unable to care for patients, she submitted to a drug test which only showed traces of prescribed medications. Documentation was made of at least four medication errors for which the nurse was responsible and she admitted to being unable to safely care for patients.
Given the nurse’s inability to perform assigned and required job duties, her employer had no choice but to terminate her employment. In turn, she filed a wrongful termination lawsuit in which she accused her former employer of failing to accommodate her. The lawsuit was recently dismissed. In its decision, the court noted the employer’s previous efforts to accommodate and work with the plaintiff and agreed that any additional accommodation would have been fruitless.
Source: Business Management Daily, “Disabled worker can’t perform? OK to terminate,” Aug. 9, 2013