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Document policy details, decisions based on them

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in FMLA Guidelines,HR Management,Human Resources

Be sure to document the reason why you treat some employees differently than others. For example, if employees can’t take leave until they have completed a probationary period, clearly explain that in your handbook. If you deny a leave request from a probationary employee, provide a written explanation.

Recent case: Gloria had to serve a 90-day probationary period when she started her university job. Near the end of the 90 days, her supervisor conducted a performance review that noted some deficiencies. Gloria objected and refused to sign the review.

Gloria then went to her doctor, who said she needed to take two weeks off and filled out an FMLA leave form. The university fired her.

She sued, arguing she should have been granted leave. Gloria argued that another employee who wasn’t FMLA-eligible had been allowed to take time off. But the university explained that the other employee was not a probationary employee. That was enough for the court to distinguish between the two. Gloria’s case was dismissed. (Bunch v. University of Arkansas, 8th Cir., 2017)

Final note: Employees who have an ADA disability may be entitled to unpaid time off as a reasonable accommodation even if they are probationary employees.

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