The Family and Medical Leave Act provides that a covered employee may take up to 12 weeks unpaid leave, with the right to return to his/her job at the end of the leave. In this case of first impression in the 11th Circuit, plaintiff was on approved FMLA leave when the company fired her as part of a planned reduction in force (RIF) triggered by adverse economic conditions for the company. Plaintiff sued for violation of the FMLA and other claims of discrimination, which were consolidated in this appeal. The key issue for the court was the motive behind the firing. Defendant presented evidence that the RIF was in response to business conditions and was applied fairly across the workforce with no animus to plaintiff. Plaintiff was unable to rebut this evidence so the court found that the FMLA was only intended to prevent discrimination against employees who took approved leave, not to guarantee all employees on leave a job at the expense of other employees.
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