What if your mistaken belief that an employee has a serious health condition prompts you to grant? Does she have any legal basis to sue? Probably not.
Recent case: When Tracy’s employer thought she was too sick to work, it sent her home onleave. She protested and got a fitness certification. The company requested two medical exams—which showed she wasn’t seriously ill.
When Tracy was terminated, she sued, arguing she was entitled to reinstatement to her old job.
The court disagreed. Because she never had a serious health condition, she wasn’t covered by the FMLA at all. (Walker v. Trinity Marine, No. 12-2468, 8th Cir., 2013)
Caution: Tracy couldn’t make an FMLA claim. However, it might have turned out differently if she sued under the ADA. That’s because mistakenly regarding someone as disabled may violate that law.
- How to Fire an Employee the Legal Way: 6 Termination Guidelines
- No STD documentation? OK to discipline--or fire
- Can we terminate a poor performer who is currently out on FMLA leave?
- Common sense: It's OK to urge employee to use paid leave instead of unpaid FMLA
- 'Zip It' Doesn't Work When Firing Employees