We have blogged in the past about the Family Medical Leave Act which allows you to take up to twelve weeks off, of unpaid leave, to address a family pregnancy, adoption, illness or death. Upon returning to work, your employer is required to make sure your job or one substantially the same is still available. One problem, though, is that the Federal law only covers employers with at least 50 employees. This can be problematic for many employees of smaller companies with no comparable state law protections, case in point, Claudia Rendon of Philadelphia.
Claudia Rendon, 41, of Philadelphia, said her employer, Aviation Institute of Maintenance, fired her after she took time off to donate a kidney to her son.
Rendon, who worked for a year and a half in the school’s admissions office, said she notified the school that she planned to take leave on July 19 to undergo kidney transplant surgery on July 21 at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania on behalf of her 22-year-old son, Alex, whose kidney failed last January. After extensive testing in early July, Rendon was found to be a match.
Kidney transplant surgery normally requires at least six to eight weeks of recovery time, and Rendon said the Aviation Institute agreed to give Rendon unpaid leave until Sept. 1. Rendon told ABCNews.com that on her last day of work before the surgery, her manager promised Rendon she would have her job upon her return, but one hour later, asked her to sign a letter acknowledging that her job was not secured.
“They said, ‘If you don’t sign this letter, you are abandoning your job and quitting,’” Rendon told ABCNews.com. “I said, ‘I am not abandoning my job. I am saving my son’s life.’”
The fact that the FMLA does not cover Ms. Rendon does not necessarily mean she is out of luck, there is also a possibility that she can bring claims under the Americans with Disabilities Act or relevant disability insurance policies.
If you find yourself wrongfully terminated, speak to an employment lawyer to learn your legal rights. Feel free to call Scott M. Behren and the Behren Law Firm for a free consultation.
In the interim, everyone should send hate mail to the wonderful people at Aviation Institute of Maintenance in Philadelphia.