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Tell supervisors: No piling on work in effort to get rid of employee

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in Employment Law,Human Resources

Some supervisors try to take the easy way out, assuming that if they give additional work to someone they want to get rid of, the employee will either quit or wind up getting fired for poor performance.

That strategy can backfire, especially when the situation looks suspiciously like a set-up.

Recent case: Jean worked in a business office. She has several medical conditions that required her to take intermittent FMLA leave.

Once, after returning from FMLA leave, Jean found herself with a greatly expanded list of job duties and requirements. She claimed the extra work was part of a plan concocted by her supervisor to make it impossible for her to do her job. She said the scheme was designed to drive her out.

According to the supervisor, Jean did fail to perform her new duties. She lost her job.

But Jean sued, alleging that the additional work was punishment for taking FMLA leave and that her boss knew she would not be able to complete it all and still take intermittent FMLA leave going forward.

The court said Jean had a plausible claim and that a jury should decide whether the additional work requirement amounted to retaliation for taking time off. (Kercher v. RMCTC, No. 15-06674, ED PA, 2016)

Final note: When employees take protected FMLA leave, make sure supervisors adjust their expectations accordingly. They can’t necessarily expect someone who took time off to complete all her work, much less more than she had been doing before leave. Hire extra help while she is off if you need to.

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