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Got a good reason to fire worker who has requested FMLA leave? Document and do it!

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in FMLA Guidelines,Human Resources,Leaders & Managers,Performance Reviews

Some employees are under the mistaken impression that merely asking for FMLA leave means they cannot be fired. That’s simply not true.

Employers won’t be found in violation of the FMLA if they can show they would have made the same decision regardless of whether the employee was on or was going to use FMLA leave.

Employees who take FMLA leave don’t have greater rights than other employees.

Recent case: Betsy Krutzig sold homes for a home-building company. She hurt her foot while off duty, an injury that would require surgery. Krutzig requested FMLA leave forms from HR.

Before her accident, Krutzig had been on a performance-improvement plan and had received several mixed performance evaluations.

Then, while her FMLA leave request was pending, she met with an irate customer who demanded to speak with the company owners. Krutzig allegedly told the customer that the owners had refused to meet. That turned out to be untrue, according to her employer. Instead, managers claimed Krutzig never approached the owners to schedule a meeting. The company fired her for lying.

Krutzig sued, alleging the company had interfered with her right to FMLA leave.

The court tossed out her case, explaining that the employer had shown it would have fired Krutzig whether she asked for leave or not. Plus, there was no evidence the managers who initiated the discharge actually knew about her FMLA leave request. (Krutzig v. Pulte Home Corporation, No. 8:07-CV-2330. MD FL, 2009)

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