Employees are supposed to getcertifications back to their employers within 15 days. But it’s not a good idea to terminate an employee simply because you didn’t receive the paperwork on time.
Theinclude an out for employees who miss the deadline for reasons beyond their control. That can easily happen when a doctor’s office is overwhelmed with paperwork.
Recent case: Gary was an assistant store manager for Walmart. When he began having panic attacks, he asked for time off and was told he’d have to take disability leave.
The store manager gave him an FMLA packet, which included instructions for his doctor to fill out a medical certification. The doctor did, certifying that Gary had hypertension, depression and anxiety and needed.
Walmart claimed it never got the form despite a fax confirmation from the doctor’s office showing the date the form was faxed. Gary was fired for unapproved absences.
He sued, alleging interference and retaliation. He pointed out that the regulations allow for extenuating circumstances. Gary said he would have followed up if he had known Walmart never received the form.
The court said his case could go to trial. (Drake v. Wal-Mart, No. 2:10-CV-679, MD FL, 2012)
Final note: Courts hate needlessly draconian rules. Always give employees a reasonable chance to submit paperwork. Jumping the gun makes it look like you were looking for an excuse to fire someone.
- How to Fire an Employee the Legal Way: 6 Termination Guidelines
- Don't overreact to co-worker's isolated racial slur, but don't ignore it either
- Harassment Investigations Must Be 'Fundamentally Fair' to the Accused
- Texas Supreme Court clarifies: It's not age bias if new worker is older than the original
- Whistle-blower isn't doing her job? Feel free to discipline