As one of the largest American health insurance companies, Humana has more than 50,000 employees in offices across the nation, including a couple here in the Milwaukee area. The company recently agreed to settle a FMLA (Family and Medical Leave Act) lawsuit for $500,000 with an employee who was fired from her job just two weeks after she returned from leave.
Before she took her leave, the employee had received excellent performance reviews and had been repeatedly promoted. Yet after returning to Humana from leave to give birth and care for her baby, she was terminated and told the firing was for violations of its “critical offenses policy.”
When the woman initially told her supervisor that she was pregnant, she was questioned about how much time she time she planned to take off for maternity leave and asked who would care for the infant after she returned to work. The employee also said she had overheard managers talking about how employees who were taking FMLA leave were “hurting the company.”
After her leave ended, the supervisor canceled meetings with the employee, including one that was to help her catch up with work developments in her absence. She was then fired for violating the “critical offenses policy,” which the employee said in her lawsuit was a pretext for terminating her for using FMLA.
A recent article about the case pointed out that Humana had never documented any performance issues or policy violations, which made the firing so close to the woman’s FMLA leave return dubious. “After all, timing alone can establish a prima facie case of retaliation, according to experts,” the piece in HR Dive stated.
Humana agreed to pay the woman $500,000, plus pay her attorneys’ fees and costs.
If you have been discriminated against because of pregnancy or gender, or had your FMLA benefits unlawfully denied, contact the Milwaukee law office of Alan C. Olson & Associates.