For whatever reason, not all employees who are offered FMLA leave decide to use it. But can companies get in trouble when those employees are disciplined for excessive absences?
In one recent case, an employee missed 10 days of work because of a medical problem. When she told her boss she was going to be absent again, the boss said she may be able to take FMLA leave.
She declined, apparently because she may have needed surgery in the near future and was waiting to see how much time off she’d require at that point.
So she took the days off without completing FMLA certification. The problem: She was out of her allotted sick leave and had already been warned by her manager about excessive absenteeism. After she missed several days, she was fired.
She sued, claiming the company violated the FMLA. Her argument: The supervisor should have warned her that her job would be in jeopardy if her leave was unprotected.
But the judge didn’t buy it. The manager did the right thing: He offered FMLA when he learned she had a medical issue. The law didn’t require him to do anything more.
The employee should have understood the difference between FMLA and unprotected leave — and she’d already been warned about missing too much time.
Cite: Knox v. City of Monroe