Recently a client contacted me regarding his termination due to missing 3 days of work, and what could be done about his situation.
Because Oklahoma is an “at will” employment state (which means that a non-unionized employer may terminate any of its employee’s for basically any reason), my first question was whether he was a member of a union; he was not. My second question was, did he miss the three days because of an on the job injury? Oklahoma law precludes an employer from terminating an employee merely because he is absent from work, due to a work place injury or because he has filed a Workers Compensation case. Unfortunately, the client stated his absence from work was not caused by an injury. I then inquired whether there was any indication that he had been fired because of issues relating to his age, race, sex, religion or physical handicap. Even under Oklahoma’s “At Will” doctrine, an employee within a protected class is protected from termination based on illegal discrimination related to that class; but there had not been any such discrimination.
Fortunately, I didn’t give up at that point and I then asked the client the questions necessary to establish that the illness, which caused him to miss work was of a serious and chronic nature. Further questioning revealed his employer had enough employees to entitle the client to protection under the “Family Medical Leave Act”; a federal law that protects an employee’s job, even if he misses work for up to 12 weeks per year due to his, or a family members’ serious medical condition. Armed with that information, I was able to quickly convince the client’s employer it was in their best interest to reinstate him of his employment.
Oklahoma doesn’t provide a lot of protection to it’s workers, but don’t give up until you talk with an attorney.
Tue, February 9, 2010
by Mike Moore filed under