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.
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- The 6 kinds of terminations ... and how to avoid lawsuits for each one
- Suspect leave abuse? Consider surveillance to catch those trying to game FMLA system
- On the hook for FMLA transgression? Offer immediate reinstatement to cut liability
- React calmly to employee requests for leave of absence