An employee’s request to takecan be frustrating for supervisors who have to manage schedules and projects. But if they voice those concerns in a way that seems angry or annoyed, they may be creating the perfect storm for an interference lawsuit. Remind them to accept FMLA requests professionally, without emotion.
Recent case: Velma Villalon worked as an administrative assistant for a Del Mar College vice president. Under a previous boss, she had received rave reviews. She didn’t get along as well with her new boss. In fact, Villalon got so upset over the conflict that she took a short FMLA leave for stress.
When she returned, she received a negative. She then told her supervisor she would soon need to take several more weeks of FMLA leave. Shortly, the VP fired her, citing . Villalon sued.
In court, Villalon described her boss’s reaction to her FMLA leave announcement. She said the VP asked—in a way that clearly showed she was annoyed—“What am I going to do while you are gone?”
The court said Villalon was entitled to a trial because a supervisor’s negative reaction to FMLA requests can be used as evidence that the real reason for termination or other negative employment decisions was FMLA usage. (Villalon v. Del Mar College, No. C-09-252, SD TX, 2010)
- Only truly outrageous conduct can add up to intentional infliction of emotional distress
- Go ahead and detail performance problems—criticism isn't an adverse employment action
- Intermittent leave no excuse for shoddy work
- Employee has used all FMLA leave? Assess disability status before terminating
- Comparing leave time under FMLA, ADA