Warn bosses: Beware discouraging leave requests — Business Management Daily: Free Reports on Human Resources, Employment Law, Office Management, Office Communication, Office Technology and Small Business Tax Business Management Daily

Warn bosses: Beware discouraging leave requests

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in Discrimination and Harassment,FMLA Guidelines,HR Management,Human Resources

Whether it’s intentional or not, some supervisors send unmistakable signals that their subordinates had better not take time off unless it’s absolutely necessary. That can mean trouble.

Employees who are too scared to ask for leave may later turn around and sue, alleging a deliberate effort to discourage them from taking advantage of the FMLA.

The proper way to handle potential FMLA leave is for the supervisor to direct the employee to the HR office.

Recent case: Accountant and single mom Laurie Snyder sometimes took time off from her state job to care for ill family members. She also suffered from depression.

Snyder claimed her supervisors criticized her for the time she took off. She also complained about what she perceived as sex discrimination and discrimination against single mothers. She suddenly found that her requests for training that had routinely been approved in the past were now being denied.

Then her supervisors told her that she should “keep her opinions to herself.” That same day, she had left a schedule of her daughter’s medical appointments with HR so she could schedule time off. Apparently interpreting her supervisors’ comments as a warning not to approach HR about time off for her daughter’s appointments, she retrieved the list.

Eventually, Snyder took medical leave for her own depression and anxiety. The state terminated her the day she returned to work.

She sued, alleging that the state had interfered with her FMLA rights when she couldn’t pursue leave to take her daughter to medical appointments without fear of reprisals. Snyder also alleged she had been fired because she needed dependent FMLA leave and her supervisors didn’t like it.

The court said her case should go to trial. (Snyder v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, No. 09-1814, MD PA, 2010)

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