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Allen M., Esq.
Allen M., Esq., Attorney
Category: Legal
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I requested an emergency leave of absence due to a family emergency

Customer Question

I requested an emergency leave of absence due to a family emergency (my mother in-law had a heart attic and died shortly after my arrival) out of the country. I had a meeting with my Manager and HR and we agreed on the following…..
I requested to be out of the office from January 15, 2010 through February 5, 2010 and to return to work on the following Monday February 8, 2010
It was agreed that I would deplete all 80 hrs of my 2010 vacation during my leave of absence. It was also agreed that I did not have any sick time and my Boss is allowing me to use the six days of sick leave pre-accrual for this leave of absence.

While I was away from the company, I have spoken to a friend of mine who also work for the same company who informed me that I had been replaced and I would not have a job when I return. When I returned on Monday February 8, 2010 I was given a notice of termination of employment effective the close of business Friday, February 5, 2010 with no reason given to me…..in fact, my replacement started work on February 1, 2010

Please let me know you thoughts and is this legal for the company to do what they did????
Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  Allen M., Esq. replied 4 years ago.
Regrettably, there will not be an easy basis for a law suit if there is any at all.

The reason is that the leave that you were taking, while very understandable, was not a legally protected form of leave. Therefore, there are not federal protection for the leave. They also are not required to give a reason for termination.

The only potential legal basis for a claim against their behavior would be an oral contract of some type or perhaps promissory estoppel.

For the oral contract, the problem is that unless you were promised something more than "at will" employment, the promise was really illusory. At will employment can be terminated at any time without reason, so if their promise did not include some statement that you could not lose your job, it wouldn't be a useful promise in which to base a contract on.

For the promissory estoppel, you could claim that you relied on their promise to your detriment, but this claim has little following in Texas (it is not statutory, but case law based) and, even if you won, the claim's value would be limited by what you employment status was...at will employment.

Finally, in either type of claim the expense is going to fall to you. This is not the type of claim that the EEOC or some other government agency would champion for you. You'll have to hire an attorney locally to do trial work. A trial by a cheap attorney can easily hit $20,000.00.

Edited by Jagcorps_esq on 4/4/2010 at 5:18 AM EST
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
There is a memo/letter that we both agreed and signed. will that make a difference?
Expert:  Allen M., Esq. replied 4 years ago.
It's certainly more helpful than an oral agreement, but what will matter is whether or not that agreement took away the rights of the employer to terminate or limited them in some way. That is the only way to break employment at will.

Even if it does though, that doesn't change this to an EEOC issue. It's still just a contract issue that would require you to front the bill. If you want you can take that agreement to an attorney for review to see if they'd consider it anything other than a statement of "at will" employment.
Allen M., Esq., Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 16093
Experience: Lawyer and legal specialist.
Allen M., Esq. and 5 other Legal Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

It’s more trouble then it worth…..I guess it’s better not to burn any bridges. Thanks for your help..

Kind Regards,

Kent

Expert:  Allen M., Esq. replied 4 years ago.
No problem. Sorry I couldn't give you better news and I'm sorry that your employer behaved so heartlessly.

Tell any future employers exactly what they did. Take the written agreement with you as proof.

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Allen M., Esq.
Allen M., Esq.
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