Some workers decide to provide notice that they’ll needlong before they’re even eligible for coverage. When you get such a request, don’t reject it out-of-hand.
Recent case: Emergency room nurse Lisa Skirpan told her supervisors she would needleave for surgery “in a year or so.” Then she was fired for refusing to come in while on call. She sued, alleging FMLA interference.
The hospital urged the court to throw out Skirpan’s case because she wasn’t eligible for FMLA leave when she announced her need for it. The court did dismiss the case, but for a different reason: Skirpan couldn’t prove her firing was about anything other than insubordination.
However, the court did note that employers must calculate FMLA eligibility based on the actual start of FMLA leave. (Skirpan v. Pinnacle, No. 107-CV-1703, MD PA, 2010)
- Set clear, consistent response to employees' 'I'm sick' calls
- Document every termination as if it will be challenged in court
- Warn supervisors: They can be held personally liable in FMLA cases
- Set separate notice rules for FMLA and regular absences
- Documentation is key to winning bias lawsuits--along with clear policies, thorough investigations