The Family and Medical Leave Act was designed to protect workers who took unpaid leave for specific medical or family matters. Readers in San Antonio may have heard about a former KBTX meteorologist who took FMLA leave and may have faced a classic case of workplace discrimination.
The newsreader, who is over the age of 40, has worked at the station for over 23 years; But, in July 2013, he was reportedly fired after a period of leave. This leave was taken after the 2012 holidays, when the meteorologist claimed he was overworked while younger employees were able to take time off. The long hours and general strain led to what he states was exhaustion and stress; he claims the symptoms were treated during January 2013 and led to a three-month absence while he recovered.
The meteorologist was reprimanded when he returned in April 2013, according to his attorney, and was eventually fired in July. His replacement was a weathercaster who was under 40 years old. The meteorologist apparently had a written contract, and this contract, his lawyer claims, was breached. He has reportedly fired for age and disability discrimination and retaliation with the Texas Workforce Commission and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. KBTX. Additionally, its parent company, Gray Television, is now being investigated by the EEOC. Once the federal and state investigation has been completed, a suit may be filed.
When FMLA leave is taken, workers are supposed to have some protections from employers. Up to 12 weeks of FMLA leave may be taken during a period of 12 months provided that both the employee and the company meet certain criteria. If you feel as though your rights have been breached, getting the right legal advice is important, and it could help you get your job back or compensation for your job loss.
Source: Media Bistro, “Former Meteorologist Files Age and Disability Discrimination Charge Against KBTX” Merrill Knox, Dec. 10, 2013