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Calculate FMLA eligibility based on date leave begins

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in Firing,FMLA Guidelines,Human Resources

Some workers decide to provide notice that they’ll need FMLA leave long before they’re even eligible for coverage. When you get such a request, don’t reject it out-of-hand.

Recent case: Emergency room nurse Lisa Skirpan told her supervisors she would need FMLA leave for surgery “in a year or so.” Then she was fired for refusing to come in while on call. She sued, alleging FMLA interference.

The hospital urged the court to throw out Skirpan’s case because she wasn’t eligible for FMLA leave when she announced her need for it. The court did dismiss the case, but for a different reason: Skirpan couldn’t prove her firing was about anything other than insubordination.

However, the court did note that employers must calculate FMLA eligibility based on the actual start of FMLA leave. (Skirpan v. Pinnacle, No. 107-CV-1703, MD PA, 2010)

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