Employer cannot terminate for unmet sales goals when FMLA leave reduced sales
An employer violated the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) when an account executive who took five weeks of FMLA leave was subsequently disciplined and terminated for failure to achieve her sales goals.
An employer violated the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) when an account executive who took five weeks of FMLA leave was subsequently disciplined and terminated for failing to achieve her sales goals. Not surprisingly, the employee filed a claim against her former employer alleging interference with her employment rights under the FMLA. The company argued that it was following non-discriminatory policies regarding sales goals and employee performance, and did not take any action based on her taking FMLA leave. However, it was undisputed that the employee’s poor sales figures were based on missed opportunities that she might otherwise have generated during the time she was on approved FMLA leave. The court decided that the violation was so clear, that the employee should win her case without needing to go to trial (Gostola v. Charter Communications, LLC, ED Mich, Dec. 2014). The only issue left for trial was the amount of damages that would be awarded.
Tips: While it is true that employees have no greater rights to job protection than they would have had without taking FMLA leave, employers do need to recognize that their expectations might need to be adjusted to account for times that employees are unable to work. For additional guidance, see our Legal Guide, “At a Glance: Family and Medical Leave Act”, or speak with your Vigilant employment attorney.