Best Ohio FMLA Attorney Answer: What can I use FMLA for? Can my employer enact strict FMLA policies? Can my employer discourage me from taking FMLA or limit when I can take leave? Do I have a claim for wrongful termination if I was fired today for using FMLA?
The Family Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”) is a federal law that requires eligible employers to allow their employees with at least one year in the job to take up to twelve weeks off from work, or to take about 480 hours of intermittent leave, for their own serious health condition, the serious health condition of an immediate family member (your spouse, parents or children), or for the birth, adoption, or placement of a child. (read also, Do I qualify for FMLA leave?)
Many employers have established their own policies and guidelines regarding just how an employee is supposed to go about taking FMLA leave. Generally, this is permissible, until such policies go too far and actually place a burden on an employee’s ability to take FMLA leave.
For example, in Harcourt v. Cincinnati Bell Tel. Co., the Southern District Court of Ohio found that Cincinnati Bell’s (“CBT”) policies of (1) requiring employees on intermittent FMLA leave to recertify their medical condition every 90 days, regardless of how long their doctor had previously stated the employee would need leave; (2) prohibiting employees from filling out any portion of the medical certification form, under penalty of suspension or termination, even if the information the employee wrote was accurate; and (3) strictly requiring employees to turn in medical certification within 15 days of their first day taking intermittent FMLA leave each violated the FMLA. In its decision, the court dissected each policy one by one:
[a]. The recertification policy
The recertification policy violates the FMLA. As indicated, CBT requires employees to recertify their need for FMLA leave every ninety days regardless of whether the healthcare providers’s certification indicates that the need for leave will be longer.
[Section 2613 (b) of the FMLA] states that if the employee’s health care provider has specified a minimum duration the employee needs FMLA leave, the employer may not request recertification in less than the minimum period specified on the certification unless the employee requests an extension of leave, circumstances have changed, or the employer receives information that casts doubt on the validity of the certification….
[b]. The [medical form] policy
The [medical form] policy violates the FMLA. [The FMLA] clearly states that a certification is sufficient if it is issued by the employee’s health care provider and provides the date of onset of the condition, the expected duration of the condition, and the medical facts regarding the condition. …
Nothing in [the FMLA] makes a certification insufficient if the employee happens to complete some or all of the information on the certification form. The critical point is that the certification be “issued” by the health care provider and contain the information required in [the FMLA] and in the Court’s opinion, a certification is “issued” by a health care provider when he or she endorses the certification form, thus indicating agreement or adopting a belief that information contained in the form is accurate….
c. The 15 day policy
Finally, the Court concludes that CBT’s 15 day policy violates the FMLA…. The [FMLA] specifically states that the employee has fifteen days after the request to provide medical certification unless “it is not practicable under the particular circumstances to do so despite the employee’s diligent, good faith efforts.” Despite the [FMLA’s] clear instruction that the employer must allow the employee more time to provide medical certification if circumstances so dictate, the record demonstrates that CBT rigidly and unyieldingly enforces fifteen days as the maximum time it allows employees to provide medical certifications for unforeseen absences.
As a result of these intrusive policies, the Court concluded that CBT had not only interfered with the rights of its employees, but that there was “substantial evidence” that the policies had the effect of discouraging CBT employees from exercising their rights under the FMLA.
Of course, not every employer is dumb enough to put into place a myriad of red tape between you and your FMLA leave. As we have blogged before about employers interfering with FMLA rights, sometimes an employer will just make snide remarks about your planned use of FMLA, or try to scare you from taking it. Either way, if you think your employer is trying to discourage you from taking FMLA, your best bet is to call the right attorney today.
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.
This employment law website is an advertisement. 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.