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Happy birthday to the Family Medical Leave Act!

The Family Medical Leave Act turned 20 years old yesterday. The FMLA has been helping to keep American families strong since 1993, when it was put into place to protect workers who needed leave to give birth, recuperate from a serious health condition, or to take care of a seriously ill loved one.

Before FMLA was enacted, it wasn't uncommon for workers to be fired for taking a leave of absence to deal with a birth or illness. Of course, even with FMLA in place, there are employers who will try to find a way around the law and seek to retaliate against an employee taking a protected leave.

There have been many such cases, including one not long ago involving an employee for a package delivery service. She requested leave and received it after her husband became gravely ill.

After his death, she was informed by her supervisor that she could take another three days for bereavement.

She told the supervisor that she wanted 30 days to sort things out. He agreed and told her to take the month away from her job. However, when the Human Resources department later denied the leave, the woman was fired for taking unapproved time off of work.

The woman later filed suit against the delivery company, arguing she had been wrongfully terminated. She prevailed at trial.

Though the law helps many people in life-altering circumstances retain their jobs, there are employers who try to skirt its worker protections. An experienced attorney can explain and pursue viable legal options available to workers unfairly fired.

Source: Huffington Post, "FMLA Anniversary: Celebrating 20 Years of Strengthening Families," Feb. 4, 2013

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