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Boss nagging employee about FMLA leave? Prepare for lawsuit

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in FMLA Guidelines,HR Management,Management Training

Short staffing makes management difficult. When an employee is out on medical leave, others have to pick up the slack. And there may be precious capacity to do so, given reduced labor budgets and the business imperative to do more with less.

Still, remind supervisors that they can’t push employees who are out on FMLA leave to perform work while on leave. They also can’t ask employees to return early from FMLA leave. Either one is just asking for legal trouble.

Instead, HR should handle all con­tact with employees concerning FMLA leave. The FMLA itself and the Department of Labor’s regulations contain specific guidelines. Follow them.

Concern? Or a threat?

What is the line between checking on a sick employee and harassing a sick employee to return to work early?

Terwilliger v. Howard Memorial Hospital (No. 09-CV-4055, W.D. Arkansas, 2011) draws that line in a case that concluded that the employee was entitled to present to a ...(register to read more)

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{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

Maria E Whalen April 28, 2019 at 3:12 pm

I work for a public service agency of over 250 employees, but our HR department is ruthless. They are harassing and inconsiderate. The head has indicated that she knows everything there’s to know about FMLA, so no one can tell her anything. I have several chronic conditions and they know it, but want me to call in daily before my work shift to say I’m not coming in, which is just so stressful, since I take a sleep aide and tend to over sleep my alarm. I was sent paper work to go out on disability, but was then followed up with an under investigation email. I can’t win for losing. Our HR person has made everyone in the agency afraid of her and has created a hostile environment for all. She take everything you say and turns it against you. Once, I indicated my mental health was being affected by all of this, so she tells me, if your mental health is that bad maybe this isn’t the place for you. I had asked for a change in position, but was denied and moved to another supervisor. I also tried to bid for a job that was less stressful, but was told it would be $20 decrease in pay.

All I want to do is get better and have accommodation put in place at my job and not forced out. At this time, I am applying for disability as I don’t see another way out of this as long as HR continues to harass me and others at this job. I have been on my job for 16 yrs and since she came, I’ve been written up 4 unfounded times for nonsense.

Please someone help me.


Anthony k. January 15, 2019 at 9:24 am

I’m on intermittent leave due to my wife’s medical condition and whenever I need to leave work to take her to the hospital my supervisor will bad mouth me and the condition to my coworkers who he is also bad mouthing them and harassing on a daily basis is there anything to be done about this. Not to mention I and subjected to extra workload when I return from leave as he believes it’s fair to add on me since I left to the hospital the previous day.


Debbie Thompson December 12, 2018 at 12:14 pm

I’m on intermittent FMLA leave for mental condition, and I always seem to need the time on the day of the month that staff meetings are scheduled for. They are so stressful, I get physically ill, too, the morning of. Can my supervisor tell me I can’t use that particular day each month off, because she expects me to be there for the meeting? Can she question me about why I always have to be off on that one day, especially when it’s always scheduled in advance (can she accuse me of planning to be out sick that day every month, just to avoid the meeting?)?


Michael Tessitore December 5, 2018 at 9:04 am

Every time I use FMLA my manager asks if I have an approval letter from HR. It’s my understanding that once FMLA is requested and or approved that managers are not supposed to ask questions but have concerns they can get verification from HR and not ask employees every time they use the FMLA.


Traci May 21, 2018 at 1:56 pm

I have been approved for intermittent FMLA leave for 2 occurrences per month (lasting up to 2 days per occurrence). I messaged my boss and told her I was not feeling well FMLA and that I would be in late. She messaged me less than an an hour later and asked approximately what time I would be in to work. My anxiety was acting up and I was having a panic attack. I cannot estimate the length of time that a panic attack will last! Maybe I should have replied, oh I be there in 53 minutes, I’m certain that my episode of incapacity will have subsided by then. How am I supposed to answer that question or even provide an estimate? I was so upset after his message that I could not go in that day. I definitely feel as though he did this to upset me, discourage me from using FMLA, and interfere with me using FMLA that day. Is this FMLA interference (the timing and the request seems unreasonable to me). He should have just reviewed my certification and gone with the timeframes provided in my certification. Instead, he harangued me at home and made me feel bad about needing to be off. Then to cover his rear, he calls a meeting and tells the rest of the staff that they should not say they will be in late, they should provide an estimated time. Can I file a complaint?


Nathan May 9, 2018 at 11:30 am

I am on a LOA and my manager calls me up and asked if I completed a survey and it was due that day so she asked me to sign on from home or go into the store to complete the survey. I did this out of her request. Then I filled an extension of my leave and it was pending and said I have 25 days to get my paperwork in. This manager calls me back and says the market hr called her and asked why I wasn’t back to work. So she then said she got not information on me again. I called Sedgwick and they emailed it the same day I filled it. I contacted the market assistant and she got the email forwarded to her from the same man that called my manager asking why I’m not back to work. I’m feeling pressured to just forget this back stuff because I need my job. I have had several communication with my manager and when I go to doctors she wants me to call each time and give her updates. Not once has anyone except the market assistant even asked if I was ok. I guess when I do go back to work I will not last long.


dave April 17, 2018 at 3:21 pm

I used 750 hours of earned FMLA sick leave 4 years ago , I am now getting in trouble for “low sick hours” , is this harassment?


dave April 17, 2018 at 3:22 pm

….it was to care for my wife going through breast cancer


Amy March 14, 2018 at 7:57 am

I have intermittent fmla leave…allowed 2 days a month for my medical condition. My lead at work gets upset and tells me when i take days off that i need to straight up and work on get to work. not taking time off. she does not understand why I have to take off…and she is clearly upset when i do take a day or two off


Mary lewis August 23, 2017 at 10:38 am

I am on a minimum 6 week loa. Throu fmla. I am a salaried store manager and I can’t get my DM to take me out of his mass texts. He sends out a work related text and 17 other managers must reply . All come flooding in to my phone . What can I do. I have asked him to stop.


Rather Not Say March 29, 2017 at 12:43 pm

On FMLA leave and supervisor has emailed and tells me I must complete training & time records or have negative evaluation. Has also asked me for diagnosis. Refuses to provide me with name of contact person in HR and tells she doesn’t have to give me that information. Is also interfering with my short/long term disability by providing inaccurate information and will not correct. Supervisor has been in trouble previously for similar issues


tasha January 16, 2017 at 4:56 pm

im out on fmla and i feel that im being harassed by the supervisor and the company that doing my short term disability it should only take 2 day once all paper work to be processed it 10 days and no one hase contacted me about my case left messages…


Ashley August 24, 2015 at 9:28 pm

I’m currently on fmla leave due to having a baby my boss has been asking other co worker to ask me when I’m coming back to work. Today I get a call from the director saying was I going to returnback to work and was coming back as a housekeeper and he got a email from human rresources saying I was returning back after the first week in September. This is very stressful help!!!


lynn August 6, 2015 at 3:12 pm

I submitted my FLMA paperwork in April of this year. On August 3rd my doctor took my out of work for a few day. She didn’t specify what a few days is and my boss, intending to force the earliest return to work possible demanded that “in that case, I need to be in contact with her daily to advise my status.” Today she sent a text asking if I can’t ask for an “ESTIMATED date of return because others have to do my job.” The job isn’t mine! She has me working it because they won’t fill the three open positions. I feel this is TOTAL harassment.


Rob September 24, 2014 at 11:53 pm

Tell them to request all information through you HR. They’re keeping up with it.


janice tyree March 9, 2014 at 9:16 pm

I am on an intermittent FMLA. My problem is when I go back after missing a day or two the Asst. mgr. tells me you’ve miss x # of days. Did you get with Cindy in personnel to make sure it is listed as FMLA. This would be okay except I already have to call two different numbers when I am out, the walmart number and the Sedgwick Disability claims line with two confirmation numbers. I feel that since it is listed in the system as FMLA when I ask personnel, he is just harassing me by speaking to me in front of other employees about this when I call the numbers they gave me. If someone is not doing their job, it’s not me. I call both numbers and get confirmation numbers for both and I am really tired of him coming to me saying he is not going to write me up but I need to get with Cindy. I take that as a threat.


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