The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (“FFCRA”) may have sunset on December 31, 2020, but lawsuits under the law continue to roll in, and they’re hitting every industry… including sports.
On May 12, 2021, the Tennessee Titans were sued by a former employee who alleges he was terminated while on leave pursuant to the FFCRA. A copy of the lawsuit is attached to my recent post on LinkedIn.
The former employee alleges that he was hired on October 16, 2019, as a Sports Field Assistant and performed his job without incident. He further alleges that he tested positive for Covid-19 on November 11, 2020, on that same day was placed on paid leave pursuant to the FFCRA and was terminated on November 20, 2020. The Titans have not yet filed their response to the Complaint.
Putting aside what I see are some technical problems with how the Complaint is drafted, there may be an issue regarding the timing of the termination. I’m curious to learn the reason for the termination and why it had to happen while the employee was on paid leave.
It’s a bad look to terminate an employee while they’re on job-protected medical leave. I’m guessing there’s more to this story. Problem employees often try and save their jobs, or at least prolong their termination, by taking job protected medical leave. While there is no absolute job protection for at-will employees, employers should always be mindful before terminating an employee who is on job protected medical leave. Sometimes a little patience in the present can help to avoid litigation in the future.