Never mention the FMLA during discussions about discharge

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in Employment Law,FMLA Guidelines,HR Management,Human Resources,Leaders & Managers,Management Training

One of the best ways to guarantee an employee will get her FMLA case in front of a jury is for her boss to mention her use of FMLA leave while discussing termination. FMLA is a “protected” leave for a reason.

A good idea: Have someone neutral from HR deliver the news that the employee is being let go.

Recent case: Elaine Pierce suffered from depression for more than 20 years and recently had two bouts with breast cancer. Pierce, an accounting manager for a credit union, was off work for surgery and then returned.

Then a new CEO arrived and announced there would be changes. Pierce was concerned about her job because she needed health benefits. Her direct supervisor assured her that her job was safe.

Still, Pierce had a panic attack. Her doctors provided a medical certification for intermittent FMLA leave due to the anxiety. She gave the FMLA form to her supervisor.

Then the CEO called her into a meeting and explained that her position had been eliminated. When she asked if her FMLA application had anything to do with the decision, the CEO allegedly said, “That and other things.”

She sued, alleging retaliation and interference with her FMLA rights. The court said she had enough evidence to send the case to a jury. (Pierce v. Teachers Federal Credit Union, No. 09-780, DC MN, 2010)

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