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What happens to a Texas employee who uses up all his FMLA leave?

Most of us in Texas have at least heard of the Family and Medical Leave Act and the Americans With Disabilities Act. These landmark pieces of federal legislation greatly shored up the concept of employees' rights.

However, just because these laws are frequently discussed does not mean that they are properly understood. For instance, some people are under the erroneous impression that these laws mean you can never, ever be fired for any reason. That is incorrect. The ADA and FMLA can be used to ensure you are not wrongfully terminated, but they do not mean that you can never get fired.

Let's look at the case of an employee of the Texas Water Development Board. The employee, who worked for the Board for more than 10 years, suffered from severe health problems, including a heart ailment that required a quadruple bypass and left him with frequent chest pain and difficulty breathing.

After he used up all of his FMLA leave, he was eventually terminated because the Board realized his health prevented him from working at all. The man sued, but a court agreed with the Board; since he could not work in any way, no amount of "reasonable accommodation" could help him at all, even if 'indefinite leave" were a reasonable accommodation (which it isn't.)

Explaining the FMLA and ADA at length would take much more time and space than we have. For more information on them, you may need to speak with attorney. But in the meantime, understand that these important laws do give you rights, but not complete immunity or immortality in the workplace.

Source: Business Management Daily, "Employee out of FMLA leave and unable to do the job? It's time to consider termination," June 17, 2012

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