Football season is back! There's nothing quite like gathering with friends in the stadium parking lot, enjoying some drinks, and grilling up tasty gameday food. But with all the excitement, injuries can happen. Maybe a friendly football game goes awry or a stunt backfires. When accidents occur amid the revelry, what then?
If you suffer a serious injury tailgating, like straining a muscle or spraining an ankle, can you still take medical leave without losing your job? This is where the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) protects you.
The FMLA safeguards your employment, wages, and health insurance if an injury prevents you from working. Even injuries during tailgating while off the clock can qualify. The law allows up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave per year for major injuries needing continuing treatment. You must have worked for your employer for at least 12 months and the company must have over 50 employees.
For example, in 2015, an Arkansas man successfully filed an FMLA lawsuit after being fired for missing work due to injuries suffered tailgating before a University of Arkansas football game. Despite providing doctor's notes, his employer terminated him while he recovered. The court ruled this violated the FMLA.
So if hurt tailgating, request FMLA leave right away and supply medical paperwork. Your employer cannot let you go or deny benefits if you meet the requirements. You also have legal rights to return to your job or an equivalent one after leave.
With the FMLA's protection, you can enjoy gameday safely knowing your job security and benefits are covered if injured. Seek legal help immediately if punished for taking leave. For now, cheer on your team responsibly and leave the rough plays to the pros!