I was on FMLA a couple of times during my employment with my current company. During those times, my boss would send me text messages and emails asking me to do certain things (send out meeting notices, order lunches for meetings, asking questions). I was recovering from major surgeries. I was also "encouraged" to come back early to work on a major fundraising event; which caused me to have complications from the surgery where one of my incisions opened, got infected and created an abcess in my abdominal wall. My company (a not for profit) has offered me a severance package, and if I accept it, I would be signing away my right file any claims against them. Would I even have a claim/case? And if I did have one, and chose to pursue it, would it make it harder for me to land another job?
State/Country relating to question: Texas
I am a paralegal, but not working as one right now. I am unfamiliar with FMLA as I primarily worked on family and civil litigation.
Thank you for using Just Answer. Between my law practice and other law related jobs, I have over 13 years experience. I look forward to assisting you.How long ago were these issues with the FMLA?
October 2009, May 2011, September 2011. I have documentation of an email my HR Director sent me asking me why I was online when I was supposed to be on medical leave. I responded that I had to respond to the messages I was getting and "you know how it is." She told me later that she told my boss (the CEO) that she couldn't have me do anything while on medical leave. It continued.
There is a two year statute of limitations on filing a private cause of action related to FMLA, so you technically still have time.That being said, it is difficult to establish this sort of discrimination when you don't have a clear retaliatory termination to point to. If you could somehow connect the termination to the issue, then you'd have a stronger case to bring.Now, I believe that you could have a case here, but the problem is whether or not the value of that claim would be worth letting your severance go. You'd be risking whatever your severance against a very speculative type of claim...mostly because establishing your level of damages is hard without showing termination rather than these relatively minor infractions (called hindrance infractions). A jury sometimes doesn't know how to value those and is very cheap, while they better understand someone being fired for using FMLA.So, you could win, but not make any money from it.
Employment/Labor Law Litigation
That's what I was thinking. And, that it would be better to go out on a good note, not as the one who sued the not-for-profit and took money away from domestic abuse victims. They know that they did wrong. My boss continues to do it to other employees, and no one will stop her. Because I documented, in writing, that they had required me to work when I was on medical leave and gave it to HR, I think they are hoping that providing this "way out" will shut me up. They know I am unhappy with my job and want to be doing something more, in the legal/mediation field. Pretty sure no company wants to hire someone who sued their former employer.
Thank you for your time and sound legal opinion. I truly appreciate it. Now I just have to find someone to review the severance agreement!!!
I don't that you'd really be known as a bad guy. There was a violation. Certainly though, there would be some bridges burned.If you have questions about the severance agreement, feel free to let me know in another question or renew this one.I'd be happy to address specific concerns you have about it.
DISCLAIMER: Answers from Experts on JustAnswer are not substitutes for the advice of an attorney. JustAnswer is a public forum and questions and responses are not private or confidential or protected by the attorney-client privilege. The Expert above is not your attorney, and the response above is not legal advice. You should not read this response to propose specific action or address specific circumstances, but only to give you a sense of general principles of law that might affect the situation you describe. Application of these general principles to particular circumstances must be done by a lawyer who has spoken with you in confidence, learned all relevant information, and explored various options. Before acting on these general principles, you should hire a lawyer licensed to practice law in the jurisdiction to which your question pertains.
The responses above are from individual Experts, not JustAnswer. The site and services are provided “as is”. To view the verified credential of an Expert, click on the “Verified” symbol in the Expert’s profile. This site is not for emergency questions which should be directed immediately by telephone or in-person to qualified professionals. Please carefully read the Terms of Service (last updated February 8, 2012).