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Wrongful termination in an FMLA case

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit has reversed a lower court decision dismissing a case involving the Family and Medical Leave Act. The appellate court found that the reason for termination was not believable and that there were issues with the timing of the dismissal. Florida employers and employees alike may be interested in the scenario that led to this decision.

The case involved a man who took FMLA leave to have shoulder surgery. His doctor than informed him that an additional 45 days would be needed to recover. While the employee offered to come back to light duty, he didn’t get a required fitness-for-duty certification by the end of the leave. Therefore, he was given another 30 days of non-FMLA leave. During that leave, the employee took vacations and posted pictures on Facebook. His employer suspected that he was healthy enough to return prior to being granted the extra leave, and the employee was terminated a few days after his return.

After filing a lawsuit against the company, a lower court initially ruled for the employer that there was no interference of the man’s FMLA rights. The lower court found that there was no requirement to extend leave, and there was also nothing prohibiting an employer from seeking a fitness-for-duty certification. However, a retaliation charge was allowed to proceed by the 11th Circuit as the court found limited evidence that the man actually violated the company’s social media policy. That was the reason given for his termination.

Employees in the Boca Raton area who believe that they may have been wrongfully terminated may have legal recourse against their employers. They may want to meet with an attorney who has experience with these types of matters and discuss their situation.

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