11 Jul FMLA leave is no time to evaluate someone
Not always does an employee have to win in court to cause troubles for an employer. The very fact that someone was taken to court can cause insurance rates to go up, to lower employment agency ratings, and to show up a huge array of radars manned by sharks whose 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 in the first place.
Take the case of Janczak vs. TWI.
Paul Janczak was the general manager of Canadian operations for TWI when he took FMLA leave 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 a reorganization of its management structure and eliminating Janczak’s general manager position prior to his taking leave.As the court documents indicate, it does indeed appear as though the company had started evaluating whether or not to eliminate Janczak’s position prior to his leave.
But here’s where TWI’s case fell apart: The decision to eliminate the general manager position hadn’t yet been made prior to Janczak’s leave — thus leaving room for doubt as to whether or not his need for leave actually factored into the final decision to eliminate the position.
As a result, the court said Janczak’s interference claim should proceed to trial, where TWI faces either a costly court battle or settlement.The court said in order for it to dismiss Janczak’s interference claims before a trial, TWI had to show that his termination would’ve definitely 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 the company, 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 FMLA leave was taken. In this case, it was not.
In conclusion, do not evaluate employees when they are on FMLA leave.