As the court documents indicate, it does indeed appear as though the company had started evaluating whether or not to eliminate Janczak’s position prior to his leave.
But here’s where TWI’s case fell apart. The decision to eliminate the general manager position hadn’t yet been made prior to Janczak’s leave, thus leaving room for doubt as to whether or not his need for leave actually factored into the final decision to eliminate the position.
As a result, the court said Janczak’s interference claim should proceed to trial, where TWI faces either a costly court battle or settlement. The court said in order for it to dismiss Janczak’s interference claims before a trial, TWI had to show that his termination would’ve definitely occurred regardless of his leave.
It is important not to evaluate whether or not someone should be eliminated while he or she’s on FMLA leave. That’s a decision that must be made prior to the person’s leave or well after, to enable enough time to pass for the resulting termination not to appear linked to the person’s FMLA leave in any way.
Call Alternative HRD!
Of course, you’d never fire someone for taking FMLA leave. But perhaps the termination had been in the works long before the person took FMLA leave. It can certainly be a 'sticky' situation. Contact us today at 605.335.8198 with questions.