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Suspect relative’s illness is used to game FMLA? If true, you’re free to discipline or terminate

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in FMLA Guidelines,Human Resources

The FMLA allows employees to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave to care for a parent with a serious health condition. But it’s not unheard of for employees to take advantage of the FMLA by getting time off, but then not spend it caring for mom or dad.

If you learn that your employee is cheating the system, feel free to discipline him.

Recent case: David was fired from his job after he was frequently absent from work during his father’s terminal illness.

His father had terminal cancer, and David said he needed to provide both physical and emotional care. He was granted FMLA leave to take his father to doctor’s appointments. But then he simply went absent without any explanation, which resulted in his discharge.

He sued, alleging interference with his FMLA rights.

But it turned out that during some of David’s absences, his father wasn’t even in town. It seems his dad had a long list of things he wanted to do before he died and took frequent trips. Plus, although he was terminally ill, he could care for himself until the very end.

The court dismissed David’s case, concluding that he couldn’t show he actually was eligible for FMLA leave during the absences. His father might have been seriously ill, but he seldom needed care. (Miller v. Department of Economic Development, No. 11-2551, 8th Cir., 2012)

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