Can You Be Fired for Having a Heart Condition? What You Need to Know About Your Rights Under FMLA
As if having a heart problem isn’t scary enough, imagine having to face unemployment lines after a serious cardiac incident.
That’s what recently happened to car dealership employee Terry Baier, when he was fired just 13 days after returning from leave for open-heart surgery. Unfortunately, what happened to him isn’t uncommon.
FMLA Leave for Cardiac Rehab
Baier had been having chest pains. He saw his doctor, who determined that Baier needed open-heart surgery right away. Baier then took 12 weeks off under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) so he could undergo rehabilitation after the procedure.
When he returned to work, Baier was required by his doctor to wear a device that contained a defibrillator. He gave his supervisor, Alex Syed, a doctor’s note stating that he could only work for a limited periods of time, for a total of up to 40 hours per week. Syed didn’t take the instructions seriously, and scheduled Baier for 11-hour shifts, six days a week. According to Baier, when he complained, Syed stated “That’s your job.” He also continually asked Baier when he’d be “back to 100%.”
According to Baier, another supervisor warned him not to die at his desk – and cautioned that if he did so, his body would be dragged outside and left in a ditch beside the road. Not long after that, the company owner threatened to demote Baier for using profanity with a new employee.
Baier, who had never been disciplined in his six years on the job, was quite distraught at the thought of a demotion. However, it turns out that should’ve been the least of his worries.
The next morning when he arrived at work, Baier was fired.
Fighting Back After an Unfair Termination
Baier suspected that the real reason for his termination had little to do with his use of profanity, so he contacted a lawyer.
Baier sued on several counts, stating that he was fired in retaliation for using FMLA leave.
He also claimed that the company interfered with his rights under the FMLA by refusing to allow him intermittent leave to work a reduced schedule.
The company tried to get the case thrown out, but the court decided otherwise. It found that Baier had enough compelling evidence to warrant a jury trial into his FMLA complaints.
(The case discussed here is Baier v. Rohr-Mont Motors, Inc.)
Contact the Murphy Law Group Now for a Free Consultation
If any of this sounds familiar, remember that it’s illegal for your company to fire you, demote you, or treat you unfairly for taking FMLA leave. If this has happened to you, it’s best to seek legal advice right away.
Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call (267) 273-1054 for a free consultation.