Saturday, November 17, 2012

Want to Fire an FMLA-Abuser? Here Are Some Legitimate Reasons to Do So

The following appeals court rulings show that there are legitimate reason an employee can be fired if he or she is clearly using FMLA leave improperly. Here are some recent examples.
  • Employee doesn’t adequately demonstrate a need for FMLA leaveAfter being passed up for a promotion, one employee said she developed post traumatic stress disorder and asserted her right for FMLA leave. The employer (U.S. Air Force) requested a DOL WH-380 medical certification form to support her FMLA request for leave. She refused to submit that form, and employer terminated her. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals backed the Air Force.
  • Employee uses FMLA leave for non-caretaker activities: In this case, an employee was not in Miami taking care of his injured daughter (which was the reason he claimed FMLA leave). Instead he was in Texas, taking care of his residence. After his company, McLane Foodservice, terminated him, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said he had no retaliation claim.
  • Employee disregards workplace FMLA leave policies: An employee was dismissed after taking an unapproved week-long vacation in Mexico while on FMLA leave, supposedly to recover from surgeryShe did not inform her employer she would be leaving the country, nor did she request permission to travel. This was significant, according to this ruling by the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania, because CWA’s work rules specifically required employees to “remain in the immediate vicinity” of their home while using sick leave.
  • Employee abuses workplace FMLA leave policiesIn another case, it became apparent that an employee was using FMLA leave to buttress holidays and vacations, under the pretext of a back injury. The employer counted 35 times that his back issues flared up on the days just before or after his previously scheduled time off, says this ruling by the federal district court in Utah.

Source: Thompson's Smart HR, October 5, 2011.  Link to Full Text.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

This is What Free Market Healthcare Looks Like

…We were driving from Monterey to Santa Barbara to stay in a rented house for the week. Along the way, my wife had a symptom. I don't want to name the symptom because I want to respect her privacy. It was a more-extreme symptom than she had previously had of a disease that she had already been diagnosed with. It happened so suddenly that it scared us both. … 

But 2 months earlier, after much prompting from my students to get with the decade, I finally had bought an iPad. We had it with us. I was driving and so my wife got on the iPad and did a Google search. What came up was a site called "Just Answer." She clicked on the link for "Doctors and Nurses" and registered. She had two choices: (1) pay $24 and wait who knows how long for an answer or (2) pay $38 for an expedited answer. We were concerned enough that she did the latter. She keyed in her symptoms and some of her medical history. About an hour later, a specialist--a neurologist--was on her case and she and I my wife went back and forth on a "chat" feature on the site that also allowed my wife to "save" the conversation. Bottom line: deal with the symptoms while we were in Santa Barbara for a week and then get some blood tests when she returned. My guess is that she would have gotten a similar response from Doctors on Duty or Urgent Care. But we would have been slowed down, we would have paid a multiple of the $38, and we wouldn't have had a specialist….

Hat tip: Dr. John Goodman.