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Worker returning after leave? Just say, ‘Welcome back!’

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in Employment Law,Human Resources

Here’s a tip that doesn’t cost anything to implement and may prevent a lawsuit: When employees return from an illness, medical leave or other absences, make them feel welcome—and don’t publicly focus on any lingering problems.

Recent case: William Wimbush worked for the Postal Service and was injured in an auto accident. When he returned, he says he sensed he was no longer welcome at work. He sued, alleging he was being targeted because he took disability leave.

The court ended up dismissing his case because he didn’t have much to go on, other than the vague “feeling” he was resented. But the case still cost the Postal Service time and money to defend. (Wimbush v. Dona­­hoe, No. 1:09-CV-00358, MD NC, 2012)

Final note: Don’t pry about medical problems or treat the employee like he’s disabled. Just welcome him back.

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