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Top FMLA Lawyer Reply: Can My Boss Require A Doctor’s Note For Each Intermittent FMLA Leave?

On Behalf of | Jul 8, 2014 | Family Medical Leave Claims |

Best Ohio FMLA Attorney Answer: Can I be fired if I cannot provide a doctor’s note after using intermittent FMLA? What type of doctor’s note is sufficient for my intermittent FMLA absences? For what reasons can I use intermittent FMLA leave? How do I find the best Ohio medical leave lawyer?

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The Family Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”) is a federal law that provides eligible employees employed by covered employers with the legal right to take unpaid, job-protected leave for their own or their immediate family’s medical condition. The law protects employees from employers, bosses and supervisors preventing or interfering with an employee from taking medical leave. The FMLA also makes it unlawful for employers to retaliate against employees for taking medical leave. Under the FLMA, the employee can take a big chunk of time at once or can get approved for taking little pieces of time based on a reoccurring condition, which is referred to as intermittent leave. In order to qualify under the FMLA, an employee must present medical documentation to the employer.

In Oak Harbor Freight Lines, Inc. v. Antti, the United States District Court for the District of Oregon analyzed whether an employer could legally force an employee who took off work by using eligible intermittent FMLA leave to provide a doctor’s note for each absence. In the case, the employer defended the practice of asking for a doctor’s note after each absence on the basis that it was concerned about FMLA abuse or fraud by its employees. In launching this protocol, the company sent out a letter to its employees containing this language:

In order for me to know when to apply FMLA to an absence, a medical note will be required from your provider for that absence. The note will need to indicate you were seen by a provider during the absence and how the absence relates to the FMLA qualifying condition. Without this information, I would be unable to apply FMLA to any specific absence.

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After putting the protocol into effect, an employee named Robert took eligible FMLA leave for back pain, but upon his return to work refused to provide a doctor’s note. As a result, the company disciplined Robert.

Thereafter, the company actually filed a lawsuit against Robert and another employee asking the Court to declare that its new protocol for requiring doctor’s notes for FMLA use was legitimate under the FMLA. In response, the Court reached the following conclusion:

The employer may require the completion of a medical certification, which must be deemed sufficient if it includes, in the case of intermittent leave, the dates of expected treatment, the medical necessity of intermittent leave, and the expected duration of the intermittent leave… If an employer disagrees with the initial medical certification, a specific statutory process authorizes an employer to request second and third opinions, and to require the employee to obtain a subsequent recertification “on a reasonable basis.”

But the Court stopped there and held that after the employee provides a complete and sufficient certification from the healthcare provider, the employer “may not request additional information from the healthcare provider.” Thus, in the case at hand, the Court determined that Oak Harbor was violating the FMLA by asking for doctor’s notes after each intermittent FMLA absence because the practice was akin to seeking re-certification from the employee on a repeating basis. Thus, Oak Harbor’s plan to get a declaration from the Court approving its doctor’s note protocol backfired on the company, but perhaps saved it in the long run from future FMLA retaliation/interference lawsuits from its employees.

If you feel that you are being denied leave rights under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) or are being retaliated against for taking medical leave, you should call the right attorney as quickly as possible to schedule a free and confidential consultation. The phone number to contact an Ohio attorney for FMLA help is 866-797-6040. While you focus on your family medical needs, let our FLMA attorneys focus on your medical leave rights.


The materials available at the top of this medical leave page and on this employment law website are for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. If you are still asking, “how do I get medical leave under the FMLA?”, “what should I do when my job won’t give me medical leave?”, “can my boss deny me medical leave?”, “what should I do if I was fired in retaliation for taking FMLA leave?”, or “is my employer allowed to…?”, your best option is to contact an Ohio medical leave attorney to obtain advice with respect to FMLA questions or any particular employment law issue. Use and access to this employment law website or any of the links contained within the site do not create an attorney-client relationship. The legal opinions expressed at or through this site are the opinions of the individual lawyer and may not reflect the opinions of Spitz, The Employee’s Law Firm, Brian Spitz, or any individual attorney.

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