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Employment Law Alert: Interesting FMLA Case From The Sixth Circuit

In a September 28 decision, the Sixth Circuit agreed with an employer’s firing of an Ohio hospital worker for chronic absenteeism after she submitted several FMLA certifications that were incomplete, suspicious, contradictory and unreliable. The employee had been fired under the hospital’s no fault attendance policy, pursuant to which an employee who accumulated 112 points in a 12-month period was subject to discharge. The plaintiff had accumulated 124 points for unexcused absences in a 12-month period, but claimed that at least some of these absences were related to “back pain” and/or her “back being out.” However, the FMLA certifications she submitted to the hospital lacked a description of medical facts, as well as any indication of the projected duration of her condition. The hospital also received independent information from the plaintiff’s physician that she had not even treated the plaintiff during the year in question -- 2004 -- and had no knowledge of her back condition at that time. Based on these facts, the Court held that the hospital properly rejected the plaintiff’s claim that some of her absences should be treated as FMLA leave and acted properly in terminating her employment for excessive absenteeism.

 

Bottom Line

The FMLA decision is obviously a good one for employers because it reinforces an employer’s right to not treat absences from work as FMLA-qualifying if the employee fails to provide adequate medical documentation certifying the need for him/her to miss work.

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