Anytime you mete out discipline or a termination that’s even vaguely related to the FMLA, you know it could lead to a complaint. But a circuit court praised this firm’s tactics after it fired a woman who thought she was on FMLA leave after she failed to call in for four consecutive days.
Were there ‘unusual circumstance’?
Amy Ritenour believed that she had been approved for intermittent FMLA leave to care for her mentally ill son.
That became an issue when Ritenour missed four straight days of work without calling in to report her absences.
The company fired her, saying she violated the firm’s comprehensive absenteeism and call-in policies.
Ritenour sued, claiming FMLA interference. The court took a close look at the employer’s policies and said no way.
Ritenour was obligated to call in to report she’d be missing work — even if the absence was covered by FMLA — unless an “unusual circumstance” prevented it.
When she couldn’t prove that such a circumstance came up, the court said the firm had every right to apply its policy to her as an absent employee – just like any other staffer.
The case is Ritenour v. State of Tennessee.