People misunderstand each other. It is simply part of the human condition. But when an HR director misunderstands an employee's use of Family and Medical Leave Act benefits, it can sometimes lead to inappropriate treatment of the worker that can include a denial of FMLA benefits or termination from a job.
We recently read a column by an HR expert offering advice to a director who wonders if an employee is abusing her FMLA benefits. The column helps make it clear why HR directors sometimes make incorrect assumptions and why a more careful analysis of facts can help them make good decisions about employees.
The HR director writes that it seems clear to him or her that the employee abuses FMLA. After all, the director reasons, the worker regularly takes intermittent leave. (Her allowance is three days per month.)
The days off always seem to fall on a Monday or Friday, the director complains. And the employee has gone for stretches without taking any leave at all. For example, the HR director writes, the worker didn't take time off during a 90-day trial period after a promotion.
The advice columnist writes back that though it is possible that the worker is abusing FMLA, there is nothing to indicate that that is happening.
The worker might well be scheduling days off to help her recuperate from treatments.
Also, she might have pushed herself extra hard in her 90-day trial period, but cannot routinely do that.
If the employee's work is solid, there is no reason to make negative assumptions and certainly no reason to withhold raises or promotions.
Unfortunately, sometimes employers, managers and HR directors make incorrect assumptions that lead to unlawful treatment of an employee. If you have been fired, demoted or otherwise penalized for legitimate use of FMLA, you can speak with a Milwaukee employment law attorney about your legal options.