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Abused employee: Give her FMLA or let her go?

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in FMLA Guidelines,Human Resources

Q. An abusive boyfriend sent nude photos of one of our employees to other employees. We’ve deleted everything from our server and blocked his email. But now we have complaints from other employees that we should have fired the employee. We did not. In fact, we let her take FMLA leave due to the depression she suffered. How should we handle these co-worker complaints? — Pat, Maryland

A. It sounds like you handled the situation very well. I am unsure what triggered the requests to terminate the employee/victim, but if you think it is related to fear that the abusive boyfriend will threaten those complaining employees, it may be wise to provide assurances that you have taken steps to ensure this won’t happen. For example, maybe you’ve notified law enforcement, advised the boyfriend that he is not welcome on your property, etc.

Otherwise, perhaps you should let them know that what happened was not the employee’s fault, that you have taken steps to prevent it from happening again (but they should advise you if it does), and that you are hoping to put the incident behind you. Then listen—they may have other concerns.

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