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Wrongful Termination Due to Caring for a Sick Spouse

On Behalf of | Feb 28, 2018 | Firm News

Chances are, many of us will have some sort of serious medical condition at some point in our lives. After all, one in four Americans visits an emergency room each year, according to Gallup. While getting a few stitches for slicing a finger while cutting an avocado or bagel is not a serious medical condition, there are many other instances that are, and many people experience these conditions, which include:

  • Heart attack;
  • Stroke;
  • Traumatic brain injury (TBI);
  • Cancer;
  • Multiple broken bones;
  • Organ failure; and
  • Hundreds of other types of diseases and injuries.

When your family member gets injured or becomes ill, they may require a period of home care. Because the average person cannot afford an in-home nurse, family members take on this role. And, when an employer fires such a family member for taking time off work to care for their loved one, they may have violated an employment law such as the Family Medical Leave Act, and must be held accountable.

Family Medical Leave Act

The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) prohibits employers from firing or retaliating against employees who leave work for up to 12 weeks in order to care for a loved one having a serious health condition. A family member is considered to be a parent, spouse, or child. During these 12 weeks, the employee is entitled to unpaid time off as well as staying on their group health insurance. When they return to work, they are entitled to the same wages and position that they left. These same benefits are provided to the employee themselves if they suffer an injury or illness, as well as if they are a mother or father caring for a newborn child or newly adopted child during the child’s placement (within one year) with the family.

Eligibility of FMLA Employees

Unfortunately, not all employees are eligible for FMLA rights. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, only employees who meet the following criteria are eligible for 12 weeks of job and health insurance protected unpaid leave:

  • Have worked a minimum of 1,250 hours in previous 12 months (a different set of criteria applies to airline flight crews);
  • Employer has at least 50 employees within a 75-mile radius; and
  • Have worked for employer at least 12 months, though the time does not need to be consecutive;

A Chicago Attorney is Here to Help

You may have a valid wrongful termination claim against your employer if they have violated the Family Medical Leave Act. To find out more, you need to call an experienced Chicago employment lawyer at Goldman & Ehrlich as soon as possible.