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Calls during FMLA leave lead to emotional-distress lawsuit

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in FMLA Guidelines,Human Resources

Teach this simple lesson to supervisors who have employees out on FMLA leave: Leave them alone unless there’s a good reason to contact them. Calls and visits can lead to lawsuits claiming emotional distress.

Recent case: Community college employee Deana Weber had to take FMLA leave for cancer surgery. While she was off, she was barraged with calls from the college. The first phone call actually came while she was still in the operating room!

Several supervisors would routinely phone her. If she didn’t answer, they would call her husband to insist on speaking with her. Then students started showing up at her house with questions. Finally, when she returned to work, she was terminated.

She sued, alleging intentional infliction of emotional distress. The court said her case could go forward. (Weber v. Illinois Eastern Community College, et al., No. 10-CV-00485, SD IL, 2010)

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