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Warn managers: Don’t mention FMLA during discussion about discharge

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in Employee Benefits Program,Employment Law,FMLA Guidelines,HR Management,Human Resources,Leaders & Managers,Management Training

One of the best ways to guarantee an employee will get her FMLA case in front of a jury is for her boss to mention her use of FMLA leave while discussing termination.

The best idea:
Have someone neutral from HR deliver the news that the employee is being let go.

Recent case: Elaine Pierce has suffered from depression for more than 20 years and more recently, had two bouts with breast cancer. She was off work for surgery and chemotherapy and then returned to work as an accounting manager for a credit union.

Then a new chief executive officer arrived on the scene. He told everyone there would be changes in the coming months. Pierce was understandably concerned about her job because she needed health insurance benefits. Her direct supervisor assured her that her job was safe.

Still, Pierce had a panic attack and got her doctors to provide a medical certification for intermittent FMLA leave. She gave the form to her supervisor.

Then the CEO called her into a meeting and informed her that her position had been eliminated. When she asked if her FMLA application had anything to do with the decision, the CEO allegedly said “that and other things” drove his decision.

She sued, alleging retaliation and interference with her FMLA rights.

The court said she had enough evidence to send the case to a jury. (Pierce v. Teachers Federal Credit Union, No. 09-780, DC MN, 2010)

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