GUNTERSVILLE, ALABAMA (08/15/14) – The Huffington Post reported that Jamila Richey, a 6 year employee of Wendy’s of Bowling Green Inc.’s restaurant location in Guntersville, Alabama, sued this franchise chain for false accusations of job abandonment and violation of the Family Medical and Leave Act (“FMLA”).
Ms. Richey needed emergency surgical removal of an ovarian cyst and stated that, contrary to Wendy’s claim of job abandonment, she did everything she had to in order to keep her employer in the loop regarding her need for emergency surgery.
She first started having cramps and abdominal pains while at work on the 15th of May. These pains were like nothing she ever had before, so she left work with permission in order to see Dr. Mary F. Holley, who diagnosed her as having a particularly bad ovarian cyst and suggested surgery be performed as soon as possible. On the same day, Dr. Holley scheduled a surgical consultation for Ms. Richey with Dr. Justice about the removal of the cyst.
Due to her health situation, she could not return to work on May 15, nor was she able to attend work at all for May 16. So her boyfriend went in person to Wendy’s to delivery doctors’ notes explaining why she couldn’t attend work on those days and documenting that she had a severe illness that needed surgery as soon as possible. However, none of the doctors’ notes ever actually made it into Ms. Richey’s personnel file. While reviewing Ms. Richey’s file, the doctors’ notes regarding Ms. Richey’s illness and need for surgery were not included and had gone missing.
At this time, other coworkers informed Ms. Richey that General Manager Ashley Baker told the other employees in the restaurant that Ms. Richey had resigned from her job with no notice. Then Baker left Ms. Richey off the schedule completely. Ms. Richey worked weekdays, so her next scheduled work day would have been May 19.
On May 19, when Ms. Richey asked Baker why she wasn’t on the schedule as usual, Baker refused to explain. Ms. Richey had a meeting on May 22 with Baker and District Manager Christy Mathis. They discussed Ms. Richey’s health and need for surgery. When Ms. Richey said she intended to file her Family Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”) paperwork as soon as possible, Mathis discouraged her from doing it and told her that filling them out was not necessary. On May 26, Ms. Richey was simply told that she should not come to work anymore.
The FMLA allows employees to take off for unpaid leave in situations of serious illness, to take care of someone sick in their own family, or to care for an adopted or newborn child. Ms. Richey’s situation easily qualified for FMLA due to her own serious illness.
If your FMLA application was treated unfairly by your employer, it can cause serious negative consequences, including being let go. The time frame for filing this type of lawsuit is only 180 days, although some states and municipalities give additional time, usually up to 300 days. To find out what the time frame is for you, go to the Employment Law section of USAttorneys, click on your state and scroll down to read the content under the heading of “Have Your or Are Your Employment Rights Being Violated in [your state]?,” which will tell you under what circumstances you can have the time frame for bringing an employment lawsuit extended beyond 180 days and also includes many other details about employment law and work rules in your state.