The Family Medical Leave Act of 1993 (“FMLA”) is a federal employment law that applies to businesses with over 50 employees and to employees who work more than 1250 hours in a year. The FMLA provides eligible employees and certain relatives (husbands, parents, children) with 12 weeks of continuous or intermittent leave for serious health conditions such as pregnancy, cancer, and serious illnesses. The FMLA is a technical law that also requires employers to provide written notice to an eligible employee once the employer knows or should know that the employee could be eligible to take FMLA leave.
In 2021, our client hired us to represent him. He, like his father and his son, worked as a heavy equipment operator for a large company in Miami. His father no longer worked for the company, was suffering from terminal cancer, and his health was deteriorating. As a result, our client needed to take time off from work – without much notice – to care for his father.
On April 15, 2021, our client informed his supervisor that he needed to leave the job site because his father could not breathe and was rushed to the hospital. Shortly thereafter, our client’s supervisor called to say that he was fired.
After hiring FairLaw Firm, we sent a letter on behalf of this employee to try and resolve the case. We then filed a federal lawsuit in the District Court for the Southern District of Florida alleging that the company interfered with our client’s FMLA rights and improperly terminated his employment.
On January 30-31, 2023, we presented our client’s case to a federal jury. The trial was very emotional for our client, whose father ultimately passed away from his cancer. The jury deliberated for about 90 minutes, ultimately finding that our client was eligible for FMLA, that he was entitled to FMLA, that the employer did not notify our client of his FMLA rights, and that the employer terminated our client’s employment. Our client was making $21.50 per hour, but based on how we presented the case, the jury awarded our client $73,232.00 in damages. The FMLA presumes that the Court will double any damages awarded unless the employer can meet its burden to prove that its decisions were subjectively and objectively reasonable. We expect that the Court will double the award to our client, meaning that he is likely to recover a judgment against his former employer for $146,464.00, and then recover attorneys’ fees and costs from his former employer.
Our client was, as you can expect, thrilled with the result.
At FairLaw Firm, we are familiar with the FMLA, wrongful terminations, how to prosecute these cases for employees, and how to defend them for employers. Contact us to discuss how we can put our experience to work for you.