• The HR Specialist - Print Newsletter
  • HR Specialist: Employment Law
  • The HR LAW Weekly
  • The HR Weekly


How to guarantee a lawsuit: Fire good employee right after she asks for FMLA leave

Here’s a recipe for a lawsuit: Terminate a good employee who just told you she needs FMLA leave and has scheduled surgery. The timing alone will be enough to let the lawsuit proceed.

Employee late in submitting his FMLA certification? Don’t just fire! Find out why


When employees take FMLA leave, you can require they obtain written certification from a doctor to confirm the underlying serious health condition. FMLA rules say you must give the employee “at least 15 calendar days to obtain the medical certification.” But take note: It’s not smart to terminate an employee simply because you didn’t receive the paperwork on time.

Remind supervisors: Absolutely no comments about employee’s pending EEOC complaint

There are some words that should never come from a supervisor’s mouth—including any statement that would seem to encourage an employee to drop an EEOC complaint. That just about guarantees that a retaliation or interference lawsuit will go to trial should anything adverse (like a discharge or demotion) happen to the employee to whom the supervisor was speaking.

Worker just mentions family member’s illness? That’s not adequate FMLA notice

Good news on the FMLA front: A court has ruled that employees have to do more than merely mention that a family member is sick to trigger an employer’s FMLA obligations.

Avoid FMLA suit: Cut slack for leave-takers


Employees who are so sick they need FMLA leave certainly can’t perform essential job functions while on leave. Employers must alter their workload expectations accordingly. If they don’t, and then later punish the employee for poor performance, an FMLA interference lawsuit is almost sure to follow.

Always check supervisor’s firing recommendation

The FMLA allows double damages for willful violations. Recently, the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the extra damages can be levied against an employer that essentially rubber-stamps a supervisor’s wrongful termination decision.

Even if you’re wrong, you can fire employee who’s on FMLA

Surprise! If you reasonably believe an employee who’s out on FMLA leave broke a workplace rule, you can fire him—even if it turns out you were wrong.

Manager divulged private health info: Now what?

Q. We approved an employee to take FMLA leave to care for her seriously ill father. The problem is that her supervisor has shared the details of the dad’s illness with other employees. This is a breach of confidentiality. The employee has complained. What should happen to the supervisor?

Tell supervisors: Never discourage FMLA leave

FMLA leave can cause major headaches for supervisors. After all, they have to make sure the work gets done while an employee is out. That can be especially difficult if they’re trying to hold off on hiring and get by with current staffing levels.

Want to fire employee for attendance problems? Make sure no absences are FMLA-related

It’s frustrating to deal with employees who call in on short notice to say they won’t be able to make it to work. Even so, don’t let it get to you. An angry reaction could launch an FMLA lawsuit. That could happen if you are already thinking about terminating the employee.