FMLA intermittent leave to care for parent – employer stepped on landmine
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FMLA intermittent leave to care for parent – employer stepped on landmine

The employee, on FMLA intermittent leave to help his sick father move, didn’t actually do so, but took the leave anyway. A clear case for termination for deceit?

Don’t bet on it. Some of the perils of dealing with FMLA intermittent leave came clear in this case in Missouri.

The employee was fired for lying about his family medical leave. But when he sued for retaliation, the court refused to throw out his case and sent it to trial – causing expense and headaches for the employer.

The problem for the employer: The employee claimed he told the company he wanted FMLA intermittent leave for two reasons – to help his father move, and also to provide care for the terminally ill older man.

When he came back from the family medical leave, the employee claimed, he told his supervisor that although the move was cancelled, he did care for his father. He dressed him and cooked for him, painted his house and picked up his medicine.

Emotional content

Caring for ill family members is one of the most emotionally charged pieces of the FMLA puzzle.

The emotion was doubled here, with the father’s impending death. The employer got into a fight it could hardly win, especially since it lacked clear paperwork on the reason for the FMLA intermittent leave.

If you’re faced with a situation like this, document the employee’s inconsistent explanation for later use. If he’s a liar, he’ll lie again in a situation where he has less emotional leverage.

Cite: Stallings v. Hussman Corp., No. 05-1882, 8th Cir,. 5/12/06

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