Employees who wantfor their own illness need a certification from a health care provider. It should document a serious condition, briefly explaining the diagnosis and treatment.
Employers that doubt the certification is accurate or want to challenge whether the condition really is serious have a remedy: Seeking a second opinion from another health care provider, paid for by the company. If the two certifications don’t agree, the employer can request (and pay for) a third, tiebreaking exam and certification.
Recent case: Rodney Harrell, who worked for Jacobs Field Services, has suffered from allergies since his teen years. He claimed his allergies periodically make it impossible to work and asked forleave when the condition flared up.
His employer sent him anand a certification form for his doctor to fill out. The doctor indeed certified that Harrell suffered from a chronic serious health condition, requiring occasional leave. The certification also said that Harrell had been seen by the doctor and that he got a shot and a prescription for Claritin, an over-the-counter allergy medication.
Harrell took leave, but claimed that when he was better, Jacobs Field Services wouldn’t let him return. He sued, alleging interference with his.
The company challenged Harrell’s right to FMLA leave, arguing that his allergies weren’t serious. But the court said it should have done that earlier, by requesting another medical opinion. (Harrell v. Jacobs Field Services, No. 09-CV-03230, CD IL, 2011)
- How to Fire an Employee the Legal Way: 6 Termination Guidelines
- Unable to work, ineligible for FMLA? You may be able to fire
- Avoid arbitrary policy on reinstating job titles
- You don't have to ask for FMLA certification for every absence
- Common sense: It's OK to urge employee to use paid leave instead of unpaid FMLA