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Woman's Boss & Co-Worker Retaliate Against Her For Taking Time Off To Help Her Terminally Ill Mother

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daughter and sick mom at the hospital

Everyone goes through a difficult time in life eventually, and if you're lucky, it happens while you have an understanding boss and co-workers.

One woman on Reddit was not so fortunate, however, and it's created a situation that highlights one of the biggest holes in America's employment laws. 

Her co-worker and boss are retaliating because she took time off to help her dying mother. 

Dealing with a close family member or even a close friend who is at the end of their life is a harrowing experience, and it can be impossible to devote yourself 100% to your job in the midst of such a struggle.

As boomers age, these situations are becoming ever more common for American workers.

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Nevertheless, it is also all too common that bosses and managers are not understanding when workers find themselves in these harrowing situations.

For a woman on Reddit, it's resulted in a downright cruel situation at work that unfortunately falls into a legal gray area that leaves workers with little recourse.

The woman told her employer when she accepted the job that she would need time off to help her sick mother.

The woman has only been in her software engineering job for three months and has already missed quite a bit of work. However, given that she told her employer when she was hired that her mother has stage four cancer and she'd need to help care for her, she assumed her job would be willing to work with her on the issue.

Instead, the senior employee charged with both overseeing and training her has all-out retaliated. He has repeatedly complained to management and her boss about the quality of her work, and the slowness with which she has acquired skills in the new position. 

   

   

Despite everyone on board having been made aware of her situation, she's gotten nothing but blowback.

"My manager also just fully accepted [the senior employee's] 'feedback' as truth and even said that sloppy work costs the company more because of rework," she wrote. "I was even called out for all my UNPAID leaves because I accompanied mom to chemo."

Overall, the situation has left her mystified.

"I just don’t know how these soulless people are even born," she wrote, and other workers chimed in to remind her of an unfortunately valuable lesson: never let your guard down at work when it comes to your personal life. As one commenter put it, "integrity does not always win in corporations."

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What this worker is experiencing highlights one of the most glaring holes in the Family Medical Leave Act, a federal employment law.

There are no two ways about it — what this woman said she is experiencing is unfair, cruel and immoral. But if she lives in the United States, it unfortunately is not illegal.

The Family Medical Leave Act, passed in 1993, provides American workers up to 12 weeks each calendar year of unpaid leave for medical reasons impacting either themselves or an immediate family member, and harassment or retaliation for taking FMLA time off is illegal.

   

   

Unfortunately, though, this woman doesn't qualify for FMLA. The law only applies to employees who have been at their jobs for at least a year. As she's only been on the job for three months, these protections don't apply to her.

She may, however, have grounds for a breach of verbal contract suit, which lawyers say tends to favor the employee in most cases due to the inherent power imbalance between worker and employer.

Still, this situation highlights one of the most glaring oversights of the FMLA, and one Congress is trying to address. Two pieces of congressional legislation were introduced in 2023 to expand and modernize the FMLA's provisions. 

One, the Job Protection Act, would reduce the employment period requirement to just 90 days. The other, the Caring For All Families Act, would apply FMLA's provisions to more than just immediate family, including "chosen family" who are not biologically related, an extremely common arrangement for LGBTQ+ people.

That legislation doesn't help people like this woman until it's passed though, of course. Hopefully, Congress will act to write them into law, because until they do, employers will continue to have the upper hand to act as cruelly as possible in situations like this with near total impunity.

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John Sundholm is a news and entertainment writer who covers pop culture, social justice and human interest topics.