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FMLA FAQ: Can an Employer Designate FMLA Leave When an Employee Refuses to Provide Medical Certification?

I received a ton of feedback last week in response to my post about whether an employee can decline FMLA leave even though the absence qualifies under the Act.

Can an Indefinite Leave of Absence Be a Reasonable Accommodation?

One of the most difficult issues an HR professional or in-house employment counsel faces is how to deal with an employee who cannot return to work after FMLA leave expires. Is additional leave required? What law applies and what are the obligations for an employer in this situation?

FMLA FAQ: Must an Employer Designate FMLA Leave When the Employee Does Not Want to Use FMLA Leave, or When the Employee Fails to Mention FMLA?

One of our employees will be absent for a serious health condition. However, the employee prefers to use his accrued sick days instead of FMLA leave.

Insufficient medical information justifies refusal of FMLA leave.

The federal regulations that support the Family and Medical Leave Act require that an employee submit to his or her employer certain medical facts within the knowledge of the employee’s health care provider, including information related to the incapacitation, examination, or treatment that may be required by a health care provider. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has held that a federal employer had the discretion to convert an employee’s conditionally granted FMLA leave to an “absent without leave (“AWOL”) status after the employee refused to provide more than minimal information about the reasons for her requested leave.

Knowledge of Employee's Cancer and Discussion of FMLA Enough to Support Discharge Claim.

According to a recent ruling by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, an employee may have a valid wrongful discharge claim under the FMLA even if she fails to actually request FMLA leave, based upon evidence that her employer was aware that she had cancer and discussed whether she had taken FMLA leave shortly before her termination.

Employee's Failure To Call In Defeats FMLA Claim

Under the FMLA rules, an employer may require employees seeking FMLA leave to comply with its "usual and customary notice and procedural requirements for requesting leave," except in "unusual circumstances" that prevent the employee from doing so. A recent decision by a federal district court in Tennessee demonstrates how this provision can be exceedingly useful to employers in managing FMLA leave. Ritenour v Tenn Dept of Human Services (.pdf).

Failure to Follow Employer's Leave Procedures Dooms FMLA Claim.

Employers frustrated with their employees' lack of communication during FMLA leave have found a friend in the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals. In what must be described as a solid win for employers, the appellate court (which covers IL, IN and WI) affirmed the dismissal of a former employee's Family and Medical Leave Act claim against the company that fired her after she failed to provide proper notice under the company's policies for an extension of leave.

FMLA Insights Podcast - "An Employee Has Requested FMLA Leave. Now What Do I Do?"

Many employers have a difficult time properly responding to an employee request for leave, a process that the new FMLA regulations expect the employer to master. What are employer responsibilities when responding to a request for leave?

Refusal To Provide Medical Certification Dooms Worker's FMLA Case.

The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals recently dismissed a lawsuit brought by an employee who was fired after she refused to provide medical documentation substantiating her need for a reduced work schedule. According to the federal appellate court with jurisdiction over Illinois, the employer “cannot be deemed to retaliate against an employee by asking her to fulfill her obligations” under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).

Verbal Notice Sufficient to Relay Intend to Take FMLA Leave (pdf).

Court reinstates workers interference claim.
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