When the Family and Medical Leave Act passed in 1993, it aimed to prevent the termination of employees who needed to take time off to recover from injuries. The act protected workers from being fired for up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave. It was seen as a victory for workers throughout the country. Unfortunately, violations of the act still occur all the time. Locally, a woman is being compensated after being fired too quickly when returning from FMLA leave.
The county of Isle of Wight must pay the equivalent of two years salary to a woman a judge says they fired too quickly after an injury. The employee injured her shoulder in a boating accident but continued to work as the economic development director of Isle of Wight for two months. When the pain in her shoulder became too much to bear, the woman used Family and Medical Leave Act to take off the month of July 2014 to recover.
Though due back August 1, the employee was advised by her doctor to take another three days of rest. When she attempted to return the following Monday, she was shocked to learn that her employer had taken her failure to appear on that Friday as a voluntary resignation. They dropped a letter informing her she was no longer employed the very day she was absent.
A judge has found that Isle of Wight moved too quickly in firing the woman and violated the Family and Medical Leave Act in doing so. The county has been ordered to pay more than $275,000 in back salary and $275,000 in damages.
We applaud the judge’s decision to award the former Isle of Wight employee this very just compensation. It is a win for anyone who has ever felt wrongly terminated after suffering an injury and missing work.
Cindra Dowd handles employment law and personal injury cases at the Law Offices of Richard J. Serpe, PC. Ms. Dowd was one of the lead attorneys in the Isle of Wight FMLA case that was recently settled. If you need assistance in a personal injury or employment law matter, contact our office to discuss your legal rights.