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Protecting a parent from wrongful termination

Everyone knows the worst thing that can befall a parent is to lose a child. Yet these tragedies, as terrible as they are universally understood to be, aren't acknowledged in our employment law.

Sometimes the grief a parent goes through after the loss of a child is compounded when they are denied leave from their job and are then fired for not returning to work soon enough.

We wrote last week about the landmark 20th anniversary of the Family Medical Leave Act, but we turn our attention this week to the actions of a man north of Massachusetts who is determined to expand the protections of FMLA to grieving parents.

The New York man had his only daughter taken from him in a car accident back in 2001. She was just 18 years old.

He has helped write an amendment to the FMLA to include parental bereavement as a protected condition.

He said that at first, a parent is hit by shock of the loss, but then unspeakable sorrow comes upon them "hard and fast -- I was swallowed up in it."

He said he would plunge "into the blackest of depressions" without a moment's notice.

He said that as time went by, he met other parents who had lost their children and heard stories of people who had to return to work after their loss and found themselves unable to focus on tasks; a number of them wound up losing their jobs in the months that followed the death of their child.

He's busy these days working to get a petition to Congress, so that it will add the Parental Bereavement Act to the FMLA.

Anyone who believes they have been wrongfully terminated should contact an attorney experienced in employment law who can help fully protect their rights.

Source: Plainview Patch, "Ex-Plainview Man Fighting for Bereavement Leave," Joe Dowd, Jan. 16, 2013

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