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Remind bosses: React to all FMLA requests in a calm and stoic manner

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in FMLA Guidelines,Human Resources,Leaders & Managers,Performance Reviews

An employee’s request to take FMLA leave can be frustrating for supervisors who have to manage schedules and projects.

But if bosses voice those concerns in a way that seems angry or annoyed, they may be creating the perfect storm for an FMLA interference lawsuit.

Remind your supervisors to accept FMLA requests professionally, without emotion.

Recent case: Velma Villalon, an admin for a Texas college, received rave reviews by a previous boss. But she didn’t get along with the new one. In fact, she got so upset over the conflict, she took a short FMLA leave for stress.

When she returned, the boss gave her a negative performance review. She told him she needed to take several more weeks of FMLA leave. Shortly after, the boss fired her, citing poor performance.

Villalon sued, citing interference with her FMLA rights. In court, she described her boss’s reaction to her FMLA request. He allegedly said—in a way that clearly showed she was annoyed—“What am I going to do while you are gone?”

The court sent the case to trial, saying the supervisor’s negative reaction to FMLA requests can be used as evidence that the real reason for poor review and termination was the FMLA leave. (Villalon v. Del Mar College, No. C-09-252, SD TX, 2010)

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