Sometimes, an employee needs just a few hours ofto make a doctor’s appointment or to drive a relative to treatment.
What if the employee wants to take the whole day off? Does therequire you to extend the extra time? No. If the employee doesn’t return after the appointment as requested, you are free to treat the absence as unauthorized.
Also, remember that employees have a duty to try to schedule FMLA-related medical appointments with the organization’s needs in mind.say that “if an employee needs leave intermittently or on a reduced leave schedule for planned medical treatment, then the employee must make a reasonable effort to schedule the treatment so as not to disrupt unduly the employer’s operations.”
Recent case: John took FMLA leave from his job at an Ohio construction products company to care for his mother after she had surgery. As she recovered, he needed intermittent time off, mainly to take her to doctor’s visits.
The company had a no-fault attendance program that assessed points for unscheduled missed work. John had to call in and talk to a supervisor if he needed to miss work or take FMLA leave. Absences without prior approval counted against him. (The company was careful not to count any FMLA absences against him.)
John told his boss he was going to miss work to take his mother to a doctor’s appointment. Because his shift was on a tight schedule, the boss told John he needed him to return after the appointment. John ignored those orders and never came back that day. The company fired him after the boss assessed him points for missing half the day.
He sued, alleging FMLA interference.
The court dismissed the case. It reasoned that because the company subtracted a reasonable amount of time for the doctor’s appointment, it didn’t count legitimate FMLA leave against him. He was fired based on missing hours that didn’t qualify for FMLA leave. (Chappell v. The Bilco Company, No. 11-1243, 8th Cir., 2012)
Final note: The court also noted that it’s fine to require employees who take FMLA leave to call in.
- Feel free to make routine shift changes--courts won't consider that evidence of retaliation
- Can we deduct pay from an exempt worker who takes FMLA leave? If so, how should we calculate it?
- Must we pay out unused vacation days when we fire employees or they quit?
- Are all cancer treatments eligible for FMLA leave?
- Consider uniform, ADEA-compliant severance and rights-waiver releases--even if age isn't factor