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Fire with caution if employee has just asked for FMLA leave

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in FMLA Guidelines,Human Resources

Employees who know they are in trouble often try to protect themselves by asking for FMLA leave. That tactic might work only if the employee can show he was eligible for it.

Recent case:
Eric Barker was diagnosed with anxiety and bipolar disorder. His supervisor called a meeting to tell Barker he was being transferred to a different location. That’s when Barker announced the diagnoses and said he might need FMLA leave.

The supervisor still said he was being transferred. Barker refused and was fired. He sued, alleging he had been terminated for needing FMLA leave.

The court tossed out the case because Barker couldn’t prove he was incapacitated by his psychological problems. Therefore, he hadn’t proven he has a serious health condition that made him eligible for leave. (Barker v. RTG Furniture, No. 8:08-CV-484, MD FL, 2009)

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