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Monday, September 6, 2021

NJ Employment Retaliation Lawyer, Bus Company Fires Bus Driver Who Took Time off to Care for Father

New Jersey’s  Acting Attorney General announced in a press release in August that an employer, Academy Bus Lines, must pay a former driver monetary damages for firing him because he took a leave to care for his dying father. According to the investigation, the Hoboken-based company fired the bus driver after he began intermittent leave under the New Jersey Family Leave Act. (FLA).

The FLA is an Act to provide employees with newly-born or adopted children or seriously ill family members temporary leave from their employment, and guaranteeing job security and certain benefits during this leave.

The FLA Statute defines “intermittent leave” as each leave taken in separate periods of time and each leave spans at least one week. In some situations, the employee will have to provide advance notice and a certification from a health care provider that supports the leave request.

In this matter the bus driver had requested a fourth such leave request to take care of his dying father in another state who was terminally ill with leukemia.

The driver had supported his first two leave requests with medical certifications, but did not supply one for the third request. When the bus driver asked for a fourth intermittent leave, the bus company demanded an updated medical certification to support the request. A treatment plan had not been determined by the medical providers and he told his employer his father was rapidly declining and being assessed and that once a further treatment plan was in place, he would give an updated medical certificate. The bus company fired him after he left to travel to his dying father.

The reason given for the termination was that he had not given advance notice and not given an updated medical certificate. The DCR found reasonable suspicion that the demand to immediately produce an updated medical certification was to discourage and impede the driver from taking additional time off.  It also found that the fourth request for intermittent leave met the emergent circumstances provision of the FLA and therefore advance notice was not required.

Rather than go to trial the bus company settled and paid the driver $40,000.00. The settlement agreement also ordered the bus company to undergo training to be in compliance with the law.

Not All Employers and Employees Are Covered under the FLA

Not all employers are covered under the FLA and not all employees are eligible employees under the FLA.

Under the New Jersey Family Leave Act, a person who works for a state or local government agency, or a person who works for a company or organization with 30 or more employees worldwide, and who has been employed by the company for at least 1 year and has worked at least 1,000 hours in the past 12 months, can generally can take up to 12 weeks of job-protected leave during any 24-month period.

Don’t Sit on Your Rights

I am an aggressive and compassionate employment law attorney who is experienced in successfully representing persons who requested FLA leave, FMLA leave and related issues. If you find yourself in a situation with inadequate job security or retaliation for requesting time off to take care of a sick relative or newborn, or to take time off under the FMLA, if you are thinking of resigning, or think you will be fired, or have been fired, it is important that you consult with an attorney who is experienced in employment discrimination law.

To explore your legal options, contact Hope A. Lang, Attorney at Law today for a free consultation.

Hope A. Lang, Attorney at Law serves clients throughout New Jersey, including Bergen, Middlesex, Essex, Hudson, Monmouth, Ocean, Union, Camden, Passaic, and Morris Counties with locations in southern, central, western and northern NJ to meet with clients.

 


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