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Don’t promise FMLA leave if you’re not required to comply

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in Employment Law,FMLA Guidelines,Human Resources

In Pennsylvania, employers that make a promise that an employee reasonably relies on may be liable if that promise isn’t fulfilled and the employee suffers harm as a result.

This quasi-contract theory has FMLA implications: If you don’t have enough employees at a particular location to be covered by the FMLA, don’t approve FMLA leave requests.

Recent case: Tracy Moore asked for medical leave after reading about it in the employee handbook. Her employer granted her two weeks of FMLA leave. Moore then was fired for unrelated reasons. Nonetheless, she filed an FMLA retaliation and interference lawsuit. The company said it wasn’t required to provide FMLA leave.

The court allowed the case to continue, judging that Moore might have taken vacation time off if she hadn’t been promised FMLA leave. To her detriment, she relied on the company’s promise. (Moore v. Czarnowski, No. 08-1637, WD PA, 2009)

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