What to do ifI signed a relocation agreement but because ofmy wife’shealth issue had to apply for family and medical leave and I was let go?

As per agreement if I leave job voluntarily within 2 years I have to reimburse those expenses. After working 2 to 3 months I applied for 4 to 6 weeks unpaid vacation (family and medical leave) as my wife was not feeling well; she was expecting baby in couple months. She was in another state so I had to stay with her. I tried to explain that situation to my employer but they said no further information needed, if you don’t come to work by certain day we will assume that you have voluntarily resigned. Now I received letter from them that I have voluntarily resigned so I have to reimburse those expenses.

Asked on November 9, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, Alabama

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

The probably can do this. As a general matter, employers are not required to allow employees to take leave, unpaid or not, even for medical reasons, the employee's own or his/her family's. (They may terminate employees who do not show up for work, or else consider the failure to show up as tantamount to resignation.) They only need to do so when specifically required by law, and the principal law on the subject, the Family and Medical Leave Act, does not appear to help you:

Not only must the employer be large enough to qualify (at leat 50 employees within a 75-mile radius), but you must have worked for the employer for 12 months or more before qualifying for FMLYA leave.

Therefore, it appears there is no protection or right for you to take a month+ of unpaid leave, even for your wife's medical reasons, after only working for 2 to 3 months.

 


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