What Do You Mean You Gave My Job Away?

Her daughter was dying, and she took FMLA leave. When her daughter died, and she returned to work before the end of her leave, her employer told her she didn’t have a job.

Her employer hid behind HR rules, and she called me.

I found the case she needed to change her employer’s mind.    

Here’s the case, eerily similar to that of the woman who called me.

Suzan Gienapp worked for Harbor Crest Nursing Home. She told her manager she needed time off to care for her daughter who was undergoing cancer treatment and filled out a Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) form.

She didn’t put the date she expected to return to work because she didn’t know it.  

She included her daughter’s physician’s statement that her daughter’s recovery was uncertain, and that her daughter might need help for longer than the FMLA’s twelve months.

Harbor Crest hired a replacement.

Gienapp reported back for work within eight weeks. Her employer told her she didn’t have a job.

Gienapp sued and her employer initially won in court, because Gienapp didn’t state how much leave she planned to take.

The 7th Circuit Court, however, ruled in Gienapp’s favor, distinguishing between foreseeable and unforeseeable leave.

The 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the trial court’s ruling, distinguishing between foreseeable and unforeseeable leave, which fit Gienapp’s situation in which her daughter might die or live longer, requiring additional care.

Unforeseeable leave doesn’t require that employees who don’t know how much time they’ll need to give employers a definite return date.

I gave the woman who called me information she could give to her HR officer and her organization’s CEO, along with the names of three attorneys if the Court ruling didn’t give her the help she needed. Last I heard, she’d decided she wanted a settlement, but not to return to work for that employer.

The case: Gienapp v. harbor Crest, 7th Circuit, Number 14-1053.

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One thought on “What Do You Mean You Gave My Job Away?

  1. I am surprised her HR people were not aware of this court ruling since they are usually required to keep up on this stuff.

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