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FMLA policies and an employee nap lead to court case

Both California employers and workers may use recent court cases to learn more about FMLA rights and potential challenges. In one Ohio hospital, well-defined policies allowed the business to prevail in having a former employee's FMLA suit dismissed. The employee's failure to comply with a major element of her employer's policy led to her dismissal.

The employee in question struggled with severe migraine headaches that occasionally caused her to request leave from work. The employee was warned about excessive absences, and her coworkers complained that she would leave her post because of the headaches without giving notice. Rather than firing her, the woman's superiors worked with her to consider accommodations that would allow her to manage her migraines while working. Although no appropriate accommodations were found, the company suggested an intermittent use of FMLA leave in cases that required her to stop or miss work.

The procedure developed was acknowledged by the worker, who agreed that she would comply in case of future instances of on-the-job migraines. However, in one case when a migraine came on, she failed to notify anyone before leaving her post, and she apparently left a pregnant patient alone. She was later found napping in a nearby room.

The employee rights case fell apart because the woman had acknowledged the employer's request that she give notice of her intent to take leave. Based on this failure to communicate her need for leave, she was found to be in violation of the employer's FMLA policy.

An employee who does not clearly understand his or her FMLA rights on the job may ask a supervisor or a human resources representative for clarification. If an employee follows the defined policy carefully and later faces discipline or firing, it might be helpful to discuss the situation with an employment lawyer to determine whether legal action is appropriate.

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