OK to ask worker to cancel M.D. appointment; that isn’t the same as denying FMLA leave

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in FMLA Guidelines,Human Resources

Employees are entitled to FMLA leave for a serious health condition. Taking time off for medical appointments is a legitimate use of FMLA leave if the treatment is related to a serious health condition.

But that doesn’t mean that em­­­ployees can schedule those appointments whenever they want. They must follow FMLA notice rules, which include giving employers 30 days’ notice for foreseeable leave requests.

In this case, a supervisor’s insistence that the employee come to a meeting and miss an appointment she just told her supervisor about wasn’t interference with FMLA leave. That’s because the appointment was foreseeable. She should have told her supervisor earlier.

Recent case: Barbara had cataracts and visited her eye doctor regularly for monitoring and treatment. When her boss informed her he wanted to have a meeting with her to discuss a report, she stated that she had scheduled a doctor’s appointment for her cataracts. He told her she had to come to the meeting instead—and to cancel the appointment.

Barbara sued, alleging interference with her FMLA leave rights.

The court tossed out the claim. It reasoned that Barbara had to provide notice 30 days in advance or at least as soon as practicable before taking FMLA leave for a doctor’s appointment. She hadn’t done so. Therefore making her work didn’t interfere with her rights under the FMLA. (Hager v. Department of Health, No. 12-3842, 8th Cir., 2013)

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