FMLA LEAVE IS NO TIME TO EVALUATE SOMEONE
Not always does an employee have to win in court to cause troubles for an employer. Thevery fact that someone was taken to court can cause insurance rates to go up, to loweremployment agency ratings, and to show up a huge array of radars manned by sharkswhose sole task in this universe is to annoy corporations. Plus it costs a fortune in legal fees.
With this in mind, it is entirely understandable as to why it is wise to avoid going to court inthe first place.
Take the case of Janczak vs. TWI.
Paul Janczak was the general manager of Canadian operations for TWI when he took FMLAleave to recover from an auto accident.Immediately upon his return from FMLA leave,Janczak was fired. He then filed an FMLA interference and retaliation suit.
The company tried to get his lawsuit thrown out claiming it was considering areorganization of its management structure and eliminating Janczak’s general managerposition prior to his taking leave.As the court documents indicate, it does indeed appear asthough the company had started evaluating whether or not to eliminate Janczak’s positionprior to his leave.
But here’s where TWI’s case fell apart: The decision to eliminate the general managerposition hadn’t yet been made prior to Janczak’s leave — thus leaving room for doubt as towhether or not his need for leave actually factored into the final decision to eliminate theposition.
As a result, the court said Janczak’s interference claim should proceed to trial, where TWIfaces either a costly court battle or settlement.The court said in order for it to dismissJanczak’s interference claims before a trial, TWI had to show that his termination would’vedefinitely occurred regardless of his leave.
It was not retaliation, however, as he hadn’t returned to work yet.
In the verdict, the court highlighted a number of cases where it had ruled in favor of thecompany, stopping the case from going to trial outright. In all of those cases, the court
found that the decision to terminate the employee in question was made before FMLAleave was taken. In this case, it was not.
In conclusion, do not evaluate employees when they are on FMLA leave.