FMLA guidelines for call-in policy on FMLA leave.
Have you ever felt boxed in when an employee failed to show up, didn’t call in, and claimed FMLA leave as justification?
It’s understandable: HR pros and good managers don’t want to illegally interfere with employees’ FMLA rights. But you also don’t want people to find yet another avenue for FMLA abuse. And according to a recent decision in a Minnesota court case, you don’t have to put up with disregard of your call-in procedures just because FMLA is involved.
In this case, the employee got approval for FMLA leave for an allergy her doctor thought was related to workplace conditions. During her first month of leave, she obeyed the employer’s call-in procedure for indefinite sick leave, calling every day she was scheduled to work to report she wouldn’t be coming in. But when she stopped calling in her absences, and went three days without contacting the employer, she was fired for job abandonment. The employee sued, claiming the employer interfered with FMLA guidelines. But the court threw her case out.
The employer was able to show it always disciplined people who flouted its call-in policy. Therefore, the court said, this employee would have been fired whether her absences were related to FMLA or not – and that’s OK by the law.
Key point: The employer would have been in trouble if the employee had been able to prove people not on FMLA leave had failed to call in for three days and still kept their jobs. And so this case illustrates not only what you can and can’t do under FMLA guidelines, but also why it’s so important to enforce policy consistently.
Cite: Bacon v. Hennepin County Medical Center, No. 08-1168, 8th Cir., 12/22/08.
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