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Impossible employee? FMLA rules still apply

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in FMLA Guidelines,Human Resources

It can be tempting to ignore an employee who is impossible to reason with. That’s a bad idea, especially if any of his infuriating behavior involves a request for FMLA leave.

If you ignore your obligations, you’ll probably end up in court. Consider this rather bizarre case.

Recent case: Nicholas Eze worked for the city of Durham and apparently didn’t get along with two of his supervisors.

In fact, he contacted police and swore out a stalking complaint against them. The court, as it frequently does in such cases, went ahead and issued a no-contact order until it could schedule a trial to determine if the supervisors really were stalking and threatening Eze and his family, as he alleged.

Because the city government couldn’t allow the supervisors around Eze without violating the temporary order, it offered him a transfer to another position where he would have no contact with them. That wasn’t good enough for Eze, so the city placed him on administrative leave.

Then Eze’s doctor diagnosed him with depression and said he needed FMLA leave. Eze let the city know and got FMLA certification from his doctor. The city claimed it never received the form, but admitted it didn’t ask him to track it down or otherwise warn him he couldn’t take FMLA leave without the certification.

Eze sued, alleging that Durham purposely ignored his request.

The court agreed and said the city violated the FMLA. However, the court said Eze wasn’t due any money since he had refused to work in the position he was offered before becoming ill. Therefore, the city’s actions hadn’t caused any loss of pay. The court did, however, order Durham to pay his attorneys’ fees. (Eze v. City of Durham, No. 1:08-CV-486, MD NC, 2010)

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