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Do the math before taking action
against employee on FMLA leave

by on
in Employment Law,Firing,FMLA Guidelines,HR Management,Human Resources

When calculating an employee's 12 weeks of Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) leave, always double-check your math, then run it by an HR boss or employment lawyer.

While you can fire an employee for failing to return from FMLA leave, the following case shows why it's important to properly calculate the expiration of employees' leave before you take action. Courts won't be forgiving of mistakes that affect employees' rights, even those made in good faith.

Recent case: In November 2001, Paula Mendoza's boss told her that her FMLA leave would expire a month later in December, when she would be expected to return to work. In fact, the company had miscalculated her 12-week leave period, which actually expired in January.

When Mendoza gave birth in January, she informed the company she would return to work in six weeks. But the company fired her for exceeding her FMLA leave by not returning to work in December. Mendoza sued, claiming the company fired her during her FMLA leave period.

After acknowledging that it miscalculated, the company said it could legally fire Mendoza during FMLA leave because she didn't intend to return to work when leave expired. But a court disagreed, saying it didn't matter what she said because the firing occurred during the protected leave. (Mendoza v. Micro Electronics Inc., et al., Case No. 02C8005, N.D. Ill., 2003)

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