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Shopping for FMLA certification doesn’t justify failing to call in absence

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in FMLA Guidelines,Human Resources

Employees may need some time off to get their FMLA serious-health-condition forms certified. But that doesn’t mean they can stop showing up for work and ignore company call-in requirements during that time.

Recent case: Floridian Scott Huberty worked for Time Warner Entertainment for decades and was aware of the company call-in rules. Those rules said that if an employee didn’t show up for work for three consecutive days or didn’t call in each of those days, he or she would be deemed to have quit.

Huberty claimed he was stressed and told his supervisor he might need time off. Then he stopped coming to work. He went looking for a doctor to certify him as suffering from a serious health condition. However, he never called in and was terminated.

Huberty sued, alleging that he had been denied the right to FMLA leave.

In court, he admitted that he actually didn’t get any treatment for his alleged condition until a year after he was fired.

The court tossed out his case. It reasoned that employees can’t simply ignore their employer’s call-in rules. Plus, Huberty couldn’t show he actually suffered from a serious health condition at the time he was terminated because he hadn’t seen a doctor or undergone treatment. He couldn’t wait a year and then argue that a diagnosis was retroactive. (Huberty v. Time Warner Entertainment, No. 5:10-CV-2316, ND OH, 2012)

Bottom line: You can enforce call-in policies pending a medical certification.

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