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Patience key when you think worker won’t return from FMLA

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in Firing,FMLA Guidelines,HR Management,Human Resources

Employers can terminate an employee on FMLA leave if it becomes clear she will not return. But get this one wrong and you may end up in court. A better approach: Wait to do the firing.

Recent case: Nancy Anderson worked in HR and learned that a reorganization would squelch a promotion she coveted. She became depressed and anxious, checked into a hospital and asked for FMLA leave.

The company terminated her, and she sued. Her condition was severe enough that she never would have been able to return, and the company argued that meant it hadn’t violated the FMLA by firing her.

The court disagreed and ordered a trial. It reasoned the employer had no way of knowing that Anderson couldn’t return when it fired her, and therefore may have interfered with her right to leave. (Anderson v. DSM, No. 06-5677, DC NJ, 2008)

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