FMLA guidelines for leave notification

by on February 2, 2009 · 0 Comment POSTED IN: HR Info Center

FMLA compliance doesn’t mean you can’t ask probing questions

What’s your first responsibility when an employee unexpectedly takes time off that may qualify for leave under FMLA guidelines?

Find out more. The onus is on you to determine if the absence qualifies under FMLA guidelines

A case in New Jersey underscores the bad things that can happen when an employer leaves questions hanging over an employee’s call-out.

Baby in the house
The employee’s fiancee gave birth three weeks early. Two days after his fiancee was released from the hospital, she was re-hospitalized with heart failure.

The employee missed five-plus days of work, and two weeks after his daughter’s birth. He was fired for violating the company’s attendance policy.

The employee sued for violation of FMLA guidelines. He said that when he called in his absences to his supervisor, he mentioned that he needed to stay home with his baby. The supervisor, by contrast, said he only mentioned that his girlfriend was hospitalized – not an qualifying event under FMLA rules.

Two plus two
The court cleared the suit for trial anyway. Why? The supervisor admitted that she knew the couple had just had a baby, which is a qualifying event.

The burden was on the employer to put two and two together, the court said. If there was doubt, the supervisor should have asked questions and pinned down the situation.

Remember: When it comes to FMLA compliance, ignorance of the employee’s situation is no excuse.

Cite: Washington v. Cooper Hospital, No. 03-5791, D. NJ,

Leave a Reply


Request a Free Demo

We'd love to show you how this industry-leading training system can help you develop your team. Please fill out this quick form or give us a call at 877-792-2172 to schedule your one-on-one demo with a Rapid Learning Specialist.