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If you spot FMLA mistake, go ahead and fix it

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in FMLA Guidelines,Human Resources

Here’s something to consider if you discover an FMLA leave mistake: Just fix it. If you erroneously imposed some kind of discipline for violating your attendance rules, rescind it. Chances are a court won’t hold your error against you.

Recent case: Ronald Dumas worked for New United Motor Manu­­fac­tur­ing Inc. (NUMMI) until the company shut down in 2010. Dumas took frequent FMLA leaves over the years, totaling more than 300 workdays.

About 14 months after his last leave period, Dumas was disciplined for missing work without permission. He was supposed to be suspended for five days in accordance with the company standards of conduct and good attendance. When his suspension started, HR noticed that one of the absences that triggered the discipline was actually covered by the FMLA. Someone then called Dumas to explain the mistake and rescind the suspension.

Still, Dumas didn’t show. He missed more work without explanation. The company again reached out and told him to come back. He finally did and worked without problems until the plant closed.

Dumas then sued, alleging in­­ter­­ference with his FMLA rights.

The court quickly tossed out the case, reasoning that Dumas hadn’t suffered an adverse em­­ployment action. He had neither been fired, nor did he lose any pay during the aborted suspension—even though he didn’t actually work. If anything, the company did more than it had to do. The case was tossed out. (Dumas v. New United Motor Manu­fac­tur­ing, No. C-09-05290, ND CA, 2011)

Final note: You can’t avoid every lawsuit. Some employees, like this one, sue without assistance of counsel. Don’t ever ignore such a lawsuit. Get your attorney’s help right away so you can quickly move to have the lawsuit dismissed if there is no merit to the claim.

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