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According to his lawsuit filed in a U.S. District Court in Tallahassee, Florida, Anthony Kelley missed a shift at a local Walmart because he took his son to the doctor after the boy began vomiting up blood. Two weeks later, he was out of a job.
Kelley's lawsuit against Walmart accuses the company of "a pattern and practice of terminating employees for taking necessary time off to attend family emergencies," and it isn't the first time the company has been charged with punishing employees for taking time off.
Kelley claims he used a mobile app to report the missed shift, and showed up to work the next day as scheduled. It wasn't until around two weeks later that he tried to clock in and found out he was being terminated. A store manager confiscated Kelley's Walmart ID badge, according to the lawsuit, telling him, "that's policy."
The same manager allegedly told Kelley he could keep his job with a doctor's note, but then refused to accept it when Kelley brought it in the next day, claiming there was nothing he could do. Kelley "had a sufficient amount of personal leave time to cover the medical emergency" according to the suit, "and was unaware that this type of absence would be counted against him as an unexcused absence." He is claiming that Walmart fired him "in retaliation for taking leave that would have been protected under the (Family and Medical Leave Act) to care for a serious medical condition of his minor son," and is seeking unspecified damages.
As mentioned above, this is not the first time Walmart has gotten into hot water over its medical leave policies. In June, a report claimed that the retailer was unlawfully using a point system to punish workers for medical absences. While Walmart's official policy provides for excused absences due to a "reasonable accommodation," the report alleged workers can still receive points from managers, and current and former employees claimed that there was no such thing as an excused absence.
Giving employees adequate family and sick leave isn't just good for your corporate culture -- it can keep you out of legal trouble as well. Contact an experienced employment attorney to make sure your small business's leave policy complies with local, state, and federal law.
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