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Andrea, Esq.
Andrea, Esq., Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 12554
Experience:  25 yrs. of experience in employment law, real estate and business law, family law, criminal defense and immigration.
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Can a school principal legally threaten to fire a teacher and

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Can a school principal legally threaten to fire a teacher and that she will lose her PERA retirement if she does not resign? The teacher is tenured and was out of medical leave and slowly returned to her class full time but the principal is now telling her she is not performing well enough for her contract to be renewed. What are the teacher's options?
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1. Is the teacher a member of a union ?


2. When the teacher was out on medical leave, did she take her leave under the Family Medical Leave Act ?


Thank you,



Customer: replied 3 years ago.

1. The teacher is not a member of a union.

2. The teacher says she was out on sick leave but does not know if it was under the Family Medical Leave Act. I will try to find out more tomorrow.
Hi Susan, Thank you for your additional information,

1. You asked,

"Can a school principal legally threaten to fire a teacher and that she will lose her PERA retirement if she does not resign? "

Answer 1

If the principal is making these threats to the teacher, he is totally out of line. A teacher signs a contract with the School District, not the principal; and, it is the School District which decides if a teacher should be fired, and whether or not a teacher's contract will be renewed. The principal might be asked for an evaluation, or assessment of the teachers because they interact every school day, but it is not the principle who has the final word. As for the teacher's Retirement fund, the principal is still totally out of line. Retiremet Benefits are earned and as such, cannot be taken away under threats to resign. Even the School District cannot take this away from any teacher


2. You also stated,

"The teacher is tenured and was out of medical leave and slowly returned to her class full time but the principal is now telling her she is not performing well enough for her contract to be renewed."

Answer 2/Comment


The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) applies to all public agencies, all public and private elementary and secondary schools, and to all employers with at least 50 employees withing a 75 mile radius and provides certain employees with up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave per year. It also requires the employer to maintain the employee's group health benefits during the leave.

And employer must display a poster prepared by the Department of Labor summarizing the major provisions of the FMLA in conspicuous places where the employees can read and know their rights. During an employee's 12 week-unpaid medical leave, the employer cannot terminate, nor threaten to terminate the employee. More importantly, the employer must keep the employee's position open and allow the employee to return to the same position. If the employer cannot keep the positionopen during the employee's medical leave, the employer must place the returing employee in a position of comparable seniority, comparable pay, and comparable authority as the employee had before they went out on leave.

An employer cannot fabricate reasons to terminate the employee in retaliation for taking FMLA leave. Although an employer can terminate an employee, if termination comes very close to the employee's FMLA lave, it will be very closely scrutinized by the Department of Labor.

The Family and Medical Leave Act is administered by the Department of Labor and the teacher should file a formal Complaint with the closest Regional Office of the Department of Labor,

She should also file a formal Complaint with the School District, reporting the principal's unwarranted threats which are really in retaliation for taking time off. Many times these threats and other unauthorized and unwarranted acts of principals go unreported and unless they are reported the School Districct will never find out about them and correct the problems,

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