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Requesting light duty isn’t an official FMLA request

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in FMLA Guidelines,Human Resources

The FMLA grants time off for em­­ployees with serious health conditions, but they must let employers know they need leave. Simply requesting light-duty work isn’t enough.

Recent case: Audrey Scott, a housekeeper for the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, took several medical leaves, including one for surgery to remove a cyst on her back. Then she developed scar tissue pain.

Her doctor said she should not lift anything heavy and needed light work. Scott told her supervisor, who sent her home because no light-duty work was available. Scott and the hospital discussed transferring her to another shift, but eventually she was terminated when she didn’t come to work.

She sued, alleging her employer should have offered her FMLA leave. The court concluded her request for light-duty work didn’t put the employer on notice she needed leave. (Scott v. UPMC, No. 10-3667, 3rd Cir., 2011)

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