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Punish poor behavior, not FMLA leave

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in Firing,FMLA Guidelines,Human Resources

Some employees need FMLA leave to cope with work stress. But that doesn’t mean that employers can’t punish someone who makes threats.

Recent case: George Ballato worked for Comcast, but had trouble with his supervisor. Ballato believed the boss unfairly graded his performance.

Ballato applied for and was approved to take intermittent FMLA leave for fatigue and depression. The company let him take time off if he called in.

Ballato started sending threatening emails to high-ranking executives, explaining that he was stressed out. Comcast cut off his computer and building access. It then terminated him.

He sued, alleging interference with FMLA leave. The court tossed out the case because Ballato got leave each time he asked and because Comcast had the right to cut access based on the erratic emails. (Ballato v. Comcast, No. 09-2236, DC MN, 2011)

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Tara November 2, 2011 at 4:21 pm

How were this employee’s emails “threatening”? This is an important detail you chose to leave out. Was the employee actually sending threats to high ranking execs, making statements suggesting he might do them harm of some sort, or simply reaching out to managers higher up the chain to alert them to what he believed was abusive conduct by his employer?


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