Do you have an employee with a serious health condition you cannot accommodate? You can insist that she take. There is no legal requirement to go along with her suggestions for elaborate and expensive accommodations that might let her continue working.
Of course, she may argue that being forced to take leave now interferes with her right to takeleave later, because she was forced to use it up.
However, she can’t sue right away. She has to actually wait until you later turn down a request for FMLA leave before she can sue.
Recent case: Lauri worked as a convenience store manager and was often the only employee in the store. She therefore had to clean bathrooms, lift merchandise, handle heavy coffee pots and equipment and climb ladders to stock shelves.
When Lauri became pregnant, her doctor certified that she could not work more than an eight-hour shift. She could also not lift more than 20 pounds or climb ladders. She requested a reasonable accommodation that included lifting help.
Instead, her employer gave her a stack of FMLA leave forms and told her to fill them out so she could take FMLA leave. She was also told that if she needed more time off, she could take unpaid (but not job-protected) personal leave.
Lauri told the company she didn’t want to take leave because she wanted to save it for after her child was born. She was then terminated since she wasn’t able to do her job.
Lauri sued, alleging interference with her right to take FMLA leave on her own terms, as well as.
The court tossed out her lawsuit. It said that Lauri would have had to take the forced FMLA leave and wait until she needed more leave. Then, and only then, could she challenge being forced to take leave before she wanted to. (Huffman v. Speedway, No. 14-1688, 6th Cir., 2015)
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