Email This Post Print

Where does FMLA law stand on leave extensions?

by on January 14, 2010 · 4 Comments POSTED IN: HR Info Center

Every year, employees are entitled to twelve weeks of family or medical leave under FMLA law. The following articles show the danger of dismissing or reorganizing workers who ask to extend their leaves.

FMLA law violation suit draws huge fine

Workers out on FMLA leave obviously aren’t performing. So why can’t they be disciplined for poor performance? This supervisor decided they could and wound up costing his company an enormous amount of money.

As senior production-control specialist, Don Tremont’s work affected every department.

So when Don went on FMLA leave for several weeks to care for his mother, problems developed everywhere.

Then, just before he was due back, Don notified Supervisor Pete Natase that his father had Alzheimer’s and he wouldn’t be returning to work until he could find someone to care for him.

That was more than Pete could stand. Come January, Don would be entitled to another 12 weeks of leave. Where would it end?

A performance issue, or against FMLA law?

“We have the right to expect employees to be on the job and to give them poor performance reviews when they’re not,” he insisted when he discussed the problem with Ken Bradley, another supervisor.

“Couldn’t that be considered retaliation under FMLA law?” Ken wondered.

“Only if we just apply it to Don. I’m talking about applying it to everyone.”

That’s what Pete did, and on Don’s first day back at work Pete called Don in and fired him for poor performance.

Absences covered by FMLA law

“All those absences were covered by FMLA law,” Don argued. “You can’t fire me for exercising my rights.”

“Who said anything about absences or FMLA leave. I’m firing you for poor performance, just like our policy says.”

Don sued the company, charging retaliation, and the company argued that Pete had the right to enforce performance standards that had nothing to do with the FMLA.

How the court ruled

Pete’s argument was thrown out when his contention that all employees were treated this way was exposed as bogus.

He had to admit that Don was the only employee who had been terminated for “poor performance” under those circumstances.

Ruling that it was a clear case of retaliation, the judge awarded Don $12 million.

Schultz v. Advocate Health and Hospitals.

Fired HR manager wins FMLA law violation suit

A Kentucky firm not only violated FMLA law, it did so by firing its in-house expert on the law – its HR manager. Unsurprisingly, she won her lawsuit.

The manager took a week and a half of FMLA leave one summer to have breast cancer surgery. At the start of the next calendar year, she asked for an extension of her leave, to the full 12 weeks, for reconstructive surgery. While she was gone the firm hired a new HR manager, and dismissed her on her return to work.

A jury found the company violated FMLA law by retaliating against her for her leave, and awarded her double back pay because the employer showed bad faith.

Cite: Voyles v. Louisville Transportation Co.

  • dawn swanson

    are there extended days or weeks beyond the 12 weeks in michigan?

  • Linda Shipley

    By law, can a company extend the FMLA for a person who is going through cancer and probably will need 6 monthsleave instead of just 12 weeks.  If so, what provision of FMLA does it state that extensions can be given.

    Thank you – Linda

  • Linda Shipley

    By law, can a company extend the FMLA for a person who is going through cancer and probably will need 6 monthsleave instead of just 12 weeks.  If so, what provision of FMLA does it state that extensions can be given.

    Thank you – Linda

  • Ballardmichelle

    I have just had total knee surgery 9/19/11 and have been on FMLA for 6 weeks and 3 days….The other knee is just as bad and they scheduled surgery for 12/7/11.  My work has called today and told me I needed to pay $1.500.00 for continuing my insurance because I have less then 3 weeks left on FMLA.  I’m not getting paid because I did not have enough time banked…..is this the only way to go…Or should I postpone the surgery till next Sept 2012 since I can not afford to be off and pay for my insurance….And just live with the pain for another 10 months?  please advise…thank you so much

Close

Request a 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.
  • xxx-xxx-xxxx i.e. 123-456-7890
  • We're sorry, but we do not accept personal email addresses at Gmail, Yahoo!, or Hotmail. Please contact us at 877-792-2172 if you do not have a corporate email address.