Women Fired for Not Returning from FMLA; Wins a Lawsuit for Unlawful Termination. Here’s Why

by Evil HR Lady on October 19, 2019

Maria Alves’s employer fired her when she didn’t return from her maternity leave. Well, to be fair, they gave her one extension and fired her when she asked for a second extension.

That may seem reasonable–companies aren’t obligated to hold your job forever, and the US requires only 12 weeks of unpaid time off–if you qualify for FMLA. So, why did Boston University lose a lawsuit?

Because Alves not only had a new baby, she had postpartum depression (PPD). Most women (50-75 percent) suffer from the “baby blues” after giving birth, but 10 percent of new moms can experience a more severe postpartum depression. (One in a thousand experience postpartum psychosis, which is far more severe.)

The baby blues generally clears up on its own in a couple of weeks, but PPD can last for months or longer and should be treated by competent medical professionals. And like other mental health problems, PPD can be covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). 

To read more, click here: Women Fired for Not Returning from FMLA; Wins a Lawsuit for Unlawful Termination. Here’s Why

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

MariaRose October 19, 2019 at 8:54 pm

However problematic was this woman’s PPD, that required a much more prolonged maternity leave under the FLMA, there’s something wrong with this situation.
I had a similar situation at my former workplace, but it involved a prolonged paternity leave under FLMA. The only thing I can see as problematic is the handling process of paperwork involved with FLMA, because of technicalities in the wording process. A well-versed HR person would have been documenting everything to follow the letter of the law. Yes, the woman was guaranteed a job, pending her return to work, but the position is not guaranteed to be the same position. There’s also a time limit involved in each leave of absent filing. If the company was documenting this diligently, they would have reached a timepoint where they no longer had the obligation to keep the position open. The employee could be terminated without prejudice with benefits accrued with the option to be considered to be rehired (probably another position), when fully able to return to work. But the key is full documentation by HR.


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