Management mistakes: Don’t commit FMLA abuse
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Management mistakes: Don’t commit FMLA abuse

Dismissal interfered with FMLA rights: Worker cried “FMLA abuse!”

A worker who missed several days of work once because of a respiratory infection and again because of serious dental problems was fired for violating the employer’s absentee policy.

But a court begged to differ: Although she hadn’t requested FMLA leave by name, she did provide her boss with enough information so that he should have inquired further and informed her of her FMLA rights. But he didn’t, and neglecting to inform an employee of their rights to family medical leave qualifies as an instance of FMLA abuse.

In ruling for the employee, the court said that the employer had interfered with the worker’s FMLA rights.

Management failed to put up FMLA posters

Invacare Corp. (Elyria, OH) paid an employee a $171,000 award after neglecting to inform him of his FMLA leave rights.

The employee lodged his complaint after being fired for absenteeism, contending that some of his absences were covered by the FMLA. His supervisor insisted that the employee had never given notice that he was taking FMLA leave.

But the employee’s lawyer pointed out that the supervisor had never put up the standard poster informing employees of how to apply for FMLA leave, and they were therefore victims of FMLA abuse.

Worker may get away with FMLA abuse

A worker who abused intermittent FMLA leave got lucky when her employer made a preventable mistake.

The worker was certified for leave because, her doctor said, she needed periodic treatment for diabetes. She took two straight months off, and was fired for FMLA abuse. But when she went to court, a judge refused to dismiss her case.

The court said the worker couldn’t “seriously contend” that she used intermittent leave daily for two months. But that wasn’t why she was fired.

The employer fired her because her doctor released her to work with no job restrictions, and the employer said that proved he had changed his mind about her certification. Not a fair conclusion, the court said, ordering the case to trial.

Cite: Farley v. Bank One, Delaware.

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