If all an employee does is tell you about the diagnosis of her medical condition, that’s not enough to trigger her. For example, the employee can’t just state that she’s been diagnosed with depression and then, the next time she misses work, expect the time off to be automatically considered .
Instead, she has to provide you with enough specific information about the absence to make it clear it may be related to the earlier diagnosis.
Recent case: Two years before she stopped coming to work, Kamara told her supervisor that she had recently been diagnosed with depression and anxiety.
She didn’t, however, tell anyone why she stopped coming to work until a month after she began to take leave without permission. That’s when she filled out a form requesting leave from the employer’s leave bank because of depression and anxiety. Her employer fired her for job abandonment.
Kamara sued, alleging that she was eligible forleave. She reasoned that her supervisors should have realized she wasn’t at work because she was depressed and anxious. She contended it was up to the employer to inform her of her FMLA rights.
The court said it doesn’t work that way.
Even if an employee has previously told her employer about her diagnosis, she still has to provide enough information to put the employer on notice this absence is related to the diagnosis. The court dismissed the case. (Crawford v. City of Tampa, No. 11-11641, 11th Cir., 2012)
Final note: Why the employer waited more than a month to fire Kamara is a mystery. If you have attendance and call-in procedures in place, use them. Terminating an employee for not following call-in procedures is fine unless extenuating circumstances prevent the employee from calling in.
- How to Fire an Employee the Legal Way: 6 Termination Guidelines
- Employee's still out after 12 weeks of FMLA: Can we fire?
- Try to offer same job to returning worker, not just same title, salary
- The EEOC's new initiatives for 2008: All talk … or a real threat?
- Pull up a chair: You must have ADA accommodations talk with disabled employees