FMLA Guidelines

We’ll assist you in tracking and managing intermittent FMLA leave … fighting FMLA fraud and FMLA abuse … and managing FMLA in general.

Beyond mastering FMLA regulations on intermittent leave, we’ll share FMLA guidelines on how to curb FMLA abuse, and dramatically improve your overall FMLA compliance.

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A former school bus driver is suing the Nacogdoches Independent School District, arguing she was fired because of a dire medical condition. She accuses the school district of firing her for exercising her right to medical leave due to a serious health condition under the FMLA. The suit also alleges disability discrimination, race discrimination, retaliation, breach of contract and violations of the Texas Labor Code.

It’s understandable that someone who has had a heart attack and taken time off to recover might assume that he’s disabled under the terms of the ADA. That’s not always the case. As is true of other conditions, it’s only a disability if the heart attack’s residual effects substantially impair a major life function.

You should hold disabled employees to the same behavioral standards as other employees, unless there is a good disability-related reason to deviate from the rules. For example, if you set strict time limits for lunches and authorized breaks, there is no reason to give disabled employees more time unless allowing more time is a legitimate reasonable accommodation.

Whether it’s intentional or not, some supervisors send unmistakable signals that their subordinates had better not take time off unless it’s absolutely necessary. That can mean trouble. Employees who are too scared to ask for leave may later turn around and sue, alleging a deliberate effort to discourage them from taking advantage of the FMLA.

Q. One of our full-time employees took time off when her husband had a heart attack. We’re a small company with 30 employees. Management was very upset and wouldn’t let her take any paid time off and wouldn’t guarantee her position. She had accumulated several weeks of paid leave. Is it legal to keep her from taking paid time off to care for her husband?

Employers and disabled employees both have an obligation to act like adults when coming up with possible reasonable accommodations. Each side has to listen to the other and consider different viewpoints and potential accommodations. Neither party should walk away in a huff. Be smart: Carefully track the accommodations process.

Q. We run FMLA and short-term disability (STD) concurrently. FMLA is for 12 weeks of job-protected leave. STD is for 26 weeks, with proper medical documentation. At what point can we terminate an employee?
It’s OK to change work rules while an employee is out on FMLA or other medical leave. It’s legal, as long as the rule applies equally to every similarly situated employee.
Some employers mistakenly believe that fathers aren’t allowed to take time off before their child is born to deal with prenatal complications.

Terminated employees sometimes have to file for bankruptcy. Sometimes they sue former employers, too. In that case, they’re required to inform the bankruptcy court about their pending lawsuit. If you lose a lawsuit, have your attorney find out whether the former employee has filed for bankruptcy. You may find that you have a “get out of jail free” card.

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