This blog has discussed the federal Family and Medical Leave Act which requires employers under the act to give 12 weeks of unpaid leave to employees who need the leave for medical reasons or who have family members who need help due to medical reasons.
Now the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is investigation allegations by six employees that the University of Chicago Medical Center wrongfully terminating them after they took the 12 weeks of leave allowed them by law for treatment, rest, or convalescence.
According to the commission, the investigation thus far has revealed evidence which indicates that the medical center may have a blanket policy under which employees who use the full 12 weeks of leave are summarily discharged at the end of those 12 weeks. This is according to a filing made by the commission in U. S. District Court in Chicago which sought to induce the medical center to turn over contact information for two former hospital managers
The medical center maintained that providing such information would violate the hospital’s attorney client privilege but the judge rejected that and the medical center has since disclosed the requested contact information.
A spokeswoman for the medical center has denied the allegations made by the former employees. In fact, she claims that the medical center goes above and beyond the requirements of the law by providing employees a portion of their pay during medical leave.
The allegations come as the EEOC is trying to take on investigations with broader impact. Of the 443 lawsuits that the agency had pending on September 30, 116 involved multiple plaintiffs, while 63 challenge systemic discrimination, according to the commission’s annual report.
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