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Allen M., Esq.
Allen M., Esq., Employment Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 19173
Experience:  Employment/Labor Law Litigation
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My husband has worked Motor Co years. He is 68 yrs old. He

Customer Question

My husband has worked for Ford Motor Co for 48 years. He is 68 yrs old. He has a perfect work record through these years. He has been on a MLOA for infection in his knees and replacements. Today was his return day. He received an email from his direct manager yesterday telling him immediately after his release this morning from medical to report directly to human resources. He did so and was told he no longer has a job as of now and he would no longer get any pay. He is (or was) management roll. He asked about the health insurance, and a few other pertinent questions and the HR person didn't have any answers for him. He said he would get back to him. Does he have a legal right to pursue this whole thing?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Employment Law
Expert:  Allen M., Esq. replied 1 year ago.

Thank you for trusting your question to JA today. I am a licensed attorney with over a decade of law practice and over 20 years of experience in the legal field. I’m happy to be of assistance.

I have a few questions that will help me better assist you today.

How long was his medial leave of absence? More than 12 weeks?

Does his collective bargaining agreement with the union (assuming he is union) outline how long one may take a protected medical leave of absence?

Have there been others, younger in age, who took similar leaves of absence and were permitted to return?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
His loa was 12 weeks. He is salary with the company -not Union. He is entitled to 12 weeks loa with full pay (1st week was vacation). No idea on whether anyone younger took a similar type of loa.
Expert:  Allen M., Esq. replied 1 year ago.

Ok. In employment law, a person may take up to 12 weeks in a year of protected medical leave under the FMLA act. Now, that right is not absolute. If there are other legitimate reasons that a person may be let go, the taking of FMLA doesn't protect their employment.

I asked about younger people taking similar leaves and being kept, because if the employer claims some sort of legitimate business reason, he could point at younger people being kept and allege age discrimination.

However, he has every right at this point to pursue an FMLA discrimination claim with the Department of Labor. The timing of his release leads one to believe that his leave has everything to do with the termination. The employer would then have to demonstrate some other legitimate reason for his release, particularly one that preceded his taking of this MLOA.

He should contact the Department of Labor immediately.

If you have any further questions, please let me know. I invite follow up questions, so use REPLY for those. If you have no further questions then good luck going forward and please do not forget to rate my service with a top-three rating so that I receive credit for working with you today. Also, feel free to request me in the future, if you have questions concerning a different matter.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
They have told him that his dept has been dispersed. Some of his staff (non-Ford personnel) has been let go and others have been sent to other managers. Therefore his job has been dissolved. The strangest part to me is that an Human Resources person couldn't tell him anything about insurance etc. we are now sitting here wondering if we have coverage as of right now. Plus we have @ company lease cars that I'm sure we will have to turn in asap. We cannot believe they didn't at least offer him a retirement package (which they have been doing for employees lately).
Expert:  Allen M., Esq. replied 1 year ago.

Unfortunately, that may be a legitimate business need.

There are times where I've sued for FMLA discrimination, but the employer demonstrated that they already had plans to lay off a unit and that person just happened to be in a unit that was being laid off. In those instances, FMLA does nothing to protect ones job. The taking of the leave is not the cause of the termination, but just incidental to it. In those cases, FMLA doesn't create any immunity or insulation against regular business decisions which are not motivated by discrimination against the use of the leave.

If they are not offering retirement packages to everyone else, it is very difficult for him to claim that the only reason he isn't being offered one is his use of leave. If others from this same unit are being offered a retirement package, he can certainly allege being singled out based on his leave use.

Giving a retirement package though is not a legal requirement under any federal or state law. That is an employer option that isn't mandated on them by law.

I too think it is odd that HR doesn't know about his insurance. At worst, he is presently covered under COBRA, which is the transitional insurance you can purchase. You may not receive notice of it for a few weeks, but legally the coverage is back dated.

Expert:  Allen M., Esq. replied 1 year ago.

Hello, I wanted to check in and make sure that there was not any additional information that you required after the response I previously provided to you. If you need further assistance, please use REPLY and ask me for any additional information you may need. If not, take care and have a great day.