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Insisting on ’100% healed’ may violate FMLA rules

by on
in FMLA Guidelines,HR Management,Human Resources

Employees who take FMLA leave are entitled to return to their jobs, or substantially equivalent ones. Employers often want a return-to-work certification to show that the employee is healthy enough to come back.

But it can be risky to insist that the employee return without any restrictions at all, as the following case shows.

Recent case:
Johnny Lee took FMLA leave for back problems. His doctor authorized his return, with a 25-pound lifting restriction.

HR refused to reinstate him, arguing that it had a policy requiring 100% recovery.

Lee sued, and the court said he should have a jury trial because he alleged that he was perfectly capable of performing his job with the lifting restriction. (Lee v. University Hospital Health System, No. 1:07-CV-3555, ND OH, 2009)

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