FMLA Law – You don’t have to “read an employee’s mind”
When Ester Gay failed to report for work on June 22, her husband called her supervisor to report that she was hospitalized for “a few tests.”
In fact, Ester had been admitted to a psychiatric hospital for treatment due to a nervous breakdown.
After six days, the supervisor had received no further information, and Ester was dismissed. She filed suit claiming that she was entitled to emergency leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). The court’s decision in the lawsuit is proof that there is still some justice in the world for employers weary of trying to comply with a bevy of government-imposed regulations.
Based on the information Ester’s husband gave, the employer had no way of knowing that her condition might have qualified her for leave under the FMLA Law, so when Ester’s attorney filed suit, the court ruled in favor of the employer.
According to HR Wire, “In order to take advantage of FMLA benefits, employees must provide notice to employers–normally, at least 30 days in advance where the leave is foreseeable based on planned medical treatment.” When the need for leave is not foreseeable, an employee generally must notify an employer within 48 hours. There are exceptional cases, but these are general guidelines.
When the need for leave is unforeseeable, the employee is only required to notify the employer that his or her condition is potentially FMLA-qualifying. The burden of determining whether the leave is in fact FMLA-qualifying then rests with the employer.
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