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Trying to figure out employer's thoughts in FMLA case

Virtually every employee has wondered at one time or another what their employer is thinking. The online publication HR Dive gives human resources professionals information about their industry, while giving the rest of us insight into what employers, managers and the folks in HR are thinking.

The publication recently ran an article on an employee who filed a claim alleging retaliation against him after he requested family leave. Two days after the construction company manager put in his FMLA request, he was put on furlough.

A federal court recently allowed the man's FMLA and retaliation claims to move forward.

According to the article, the manager had consistently received evaluations rating his performance as good to excellent. Things changed, however, after her reported a safety issue which the company failed to address.

He was apparently threatened with termination if he reported any work accidents related to the safety concern.

At some point, he requested family leave for a health condition, but was furloughed two days later.

The court determined that there was a connection between his request and the furlough.

HR Dive says "the employer made notable missteps in this case," including making the claim that the furlough was caused by a slowdown in business for the firm. In reality, only the one manager was furloughed.

Another misstep: the company called the man's firing a "furlough" rather than termination, and deemed his performance unacceptable after repeatedly giving him good to excellent reviews. And it failed to document in which way his work might have suddenly become unacceptable.

What was the employer thinking? Who knows. But it's clear that they weren't thinking enough about their employee's rights. 

For Milwaukee employees who have suffered retaliation for reporting safety concerns or for making use of FMLA, a conversation with an employment law attorney with the office of Alan C. Olson & Associates can begin the process of obtaining justice.

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