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FMLA: 6th Circuit clarifies which employees are eligible

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in Firing,FMLA Guidelines,Human Resources

To be eligible under the Family and Medical Leave Act, an employee must have at least 1,250 hours of service with the employer during the previous 12 months. But be careful about which 12-months-back you are counting.

The 6th Circuit threw out an employer's argument that an employee was ineligible for FMLA because she had not reached the required 1,250 hours of service in the 12 months leading up to her post-leave firing. But the court said that the required 1,250 hours of service must be computed from the date the employee's leave began, rather than from the date the employee was terminated.

Under the company's flawed reasoning, the court said, an employee returning from 12 weeks of FMLA leave could be fired immediately because, at the time of her return, she was no longer "eligible." (Butler v. Owens-Brockway Plastic Products Inc., No. 99-3065, 6th Cir., 1999)

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