The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, a Federal court overseeing the Federal trial courts in Wisconsin, Illinois and Indiana, confirmed a trial court’s decision that threw out an employee’s claim that the employer violated her FMLA rights when it terminated her employment when she was on leave for a serious health condition. See Brown v. Automotive Compenents Holdings LLC, 7th Cir., Sept. 8, 2010. The employer terminated her employment because she did not comply with the employer’s leave policies which required her to submit a particular medical form within a specific period of time. The employee was actually on medical leave that expired, and she needed to extend the leave to cover additional time. The employee did not respond to the employer’s requests, and in fact did not pick up certified letters the employer sent her that requested her to comply with its policies. The Federal court found that the employer’s policies did not conflict with the FMLA, so the employer could terminate the employee for not complying with these policies. Moral of the story for employees is that you must be aware of your employer’s policies and comply with them if they do not contradict the FMLA. Also, don’t ignore certified mail from your employer when you are on leave. By complying with the employer’s request for a medical certification, which it appeared the employee could have done, she would likely have saved her job at least at this juncture. Perhaps in this case, the employee who suffered from depression at the time may have found it difficult to respond at all due to the depression, but that issue did not seem to be a factor in the arguments.
Employees Must Comply with Employer Leave Policies Even When Leave is Protected by the Family & Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
Posted by Gordon on September 15, 2010