Employees in Wisconsin are entitled to take unpaid leave from their jobs if they have a health condition that makes them unable to work. According to the Family and Medical Leave Act, an employee can take an unpaid leave for up to 12 weeks a year. When an employee is planning to take medical leave or on medical leave, their employer is legally barred from preventing them from taking medical leave or punishing them for taking medical leave.
Until recently, there were some questions about whether employees are completely protected from termination during FMLA leave. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit decided that an employer can legally fire an employee who is taking medical leave in some situations. An employee can be fired while they are taking medical leave if they had documented issues with their job performance and their employer’s decision to fire them had nothing to do with the medical leave.
The recent court decision took into account the possibility that an employee’s poor job performance could be directly related to their reasons for taking medical leave. For example, an employee who suffers from a mental health issue might have performed poorly at work before taking medical leave. The appeals court decided that even when an employee’s medical condition is related to their job performance problems, the employee can still be fired while taking medical leave if previous examples of poor work performance can be cited by the employer.
If an employer fires a worker who is on medical leave, the worker can file a wrongful termination claim against the employer. An attorney could possibly help an employee prove that the employer’s decision to fire him or her was not based on any documented job performance issues.