Some employees who feel they're about to be disciplined may believe taking FMLA leave will shield them from discharge. It doesn't.
While it's risky, you can fire workers while they are on FMLA leave. Just make sure you can prove that you were planning the termination, regardless of the leave.
Recent case: Michael, a medical company manager, was given a final warning for being drunk at business meetings and dinners. Execs discussed terminating him. He then got arrested for a DUI but didn't tell his employer about it. He then requested FMLA leave to address his alcoholism.
During the leave, the company discovered the arrest. Michael was fired when he...