In Poling v. Core Molding Technologies (S.D. Ohio 2/9/12),
the plaintiff, who suffered from Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy Syndrome, claimed that his
employer interfered with his FMLA rights when it terminated him for excessive
absences. Poling's problem, however, was that he never adequately completed the
FMLA medical certification forms his employer had requested. That omission was
fatal to his claim. (It probably didn't help Poling's cause that he called off
from his Lake Erie vacation home.)
If an employee seeks FMLA leave to care for his or her
own serious health condition, or that of a covered family member, the statute
permits an employer to require a certification by a health care provider to
support the leave. At the time the employer requests certification, it must
advise the employee of the anticipated consequences of a failure to provide
adequate certification. An employee has 15 calendar days to return the
requested certification. If the employee fails to provide any certification,
the employer may deny the taking of FMLA leave. If an employee returns an
incomplete or insufficient certification, the employer must provide the
employee seven calendar days to cure the deficiency. The employee's failure to
timely cure also entitles the employer to deny the FMLA leave.
The employer in Poling:
It was only after Poling missed the deadline to cure his
certification that the employer finally had enough and terminated him (he had
already exhausted his paid and unpaid days off).
There is no doubt that the FMLA is a pain for employers
to administer. It is not, however, a toothless statute for employers. The FMLA
offers employer plenty of opportunities to catch a malingering employee,
provided that you know, understand, and follow its maze of rules.
Visit the Ohio Employer's Law Blog for more
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