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React calmly to employee requests for leave of absence

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in Firing,FMLA Guidelines,Human Resources

Suppose an employee tells you she needs to take a leave of absence due to an illness. Such leave could be covered under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Her absence may cause you scheduling problems and extra work. That may be frustrating, but do your best not to show any emotion. Why?

Managers who voice those concerns in a way that seems angry or annoyed could trigger legal problems. That’s because if the employee is later disciplined or terminated, she may be able to say FMLA leave was the real reason—and the supervisor’s reaction was proof.

Case in point: When an employee requested leave for medical reasons, her boss said in an annoyed manner, “What am I going to do while you are gone?” When she returned, she received a negative review and was fired soon after. She sued. (Villalon v. Del Mar College)

The verdict: The court sided with the employee, saying the supervisor’s negative reaction was evidence that the FMLA leave was the real reason for the firing.

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