Every winter, cold and flu season is highly touted in the media. Inevitably, some employees find themselves in the grip of the chills and fevers they know all-too-well as symptoms of influenza. Yet what happens when a Texas worker's case of flu keeps him or her out of work for an extended period of time? Some employees find themselves at the unpleasant end of a wrongful termination experience; however, this kind of wrongful termination may actually be a violation of the Family and Medical Leave Act.
The FMLA clearly states that it doesn't apply to colds and the flu -- unless there are extenuating circumstances. Therefore, if a worker is out for an extended period of time, and can prove that the absence was medically related, he or she may be able to sue an employer under FMLA if he or she is let go for being off the job. It's happened across the country, and it's important for employees to understand that they do have rights.
Even if a company insists that a prolonged absence doesn't fall under the FMLA, that's no reason for an employee who has experienced wrongful termination not to seek a second opinion. Plenty of businesses don't realize that the FMLA can protect workers whose flu leads to other complications, like pneumonia. For that and other reasons, it is important for employees to take it upon themselves to find out the facts.
This isn't to say that a cold or the flu would be an excuse to "play hooky." If an employee can safely go to work and perform his or her duties, he or she should. Yet if the flu has gripped the Texas employee to the point where medical intervention is needed, and the employee cannot be at work, there should be no hesitation for him or her to look for professional assistance in the case of wrongful termination.
Source: businessmanagementdaily.com, Not a question to sneeze at: Is influenza covered by the FMLA?, No author, Dec. 26, 2013