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You can’t demand exact day for FMLA treatment

by on
in FMLA Guidelines,Human Resources

Employees who suffer from chronic conditions may have to see their doctors regularly. Under the FMLA, if those employees give you 30 days’ notice, they’re allowed to pick the day for their appointment.

You can’t simply argue that they don’t need to take off that particular day because there is no emergency or urgency.

Recent case:
Yajaira Strohl worked for a day care center and suffered from migraine headaches. She notified her supervisor that she would need to take a day off for a doctor’s appointment the following month, and her request was approved.

The day before her appointment, her employer told her she had to come to work. If she didn’t, she would be fired. Strohl went to her appointment anyway and then sued, alleging interference with her right to take FMLA leave for a serious health condition.

The day care center argued there was nothing urgent about Strohl’s appointment; therefore she wasn’t protected by the FMLA. Letting her take the day off, reasoned her employer, would convert the FMLA into a general sick leave plan for employees with chronic conditions.

The court said she was entitled to the time off because she had given appropriate notice. Plus, reasoned the court, employees with chronic conditions have to see their doctors at some time. If the employer’s reasoning prevailed, it would mean that those employees might never be able to see their doctors. (Strohl v. Brite Adventure Center, No. 08-CV-259, ED NY, 2009)

Final note: When FMLA leave is foreseeable, employees are required to provide at least 30 days’ notice of their need for leave. If the need for leave is foreseeable but the leave must begin in less than 30 days, employees must notify their employers as soon as practicable.

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