Question and very obvious answer about FMLA leave

The answer to the question is so obvious that it’s a little surprising that the question keeps getting asked. Here’s the question: “Can an employer require an employee to work during a FMLA leave?” The obvious answer: No.

Yet an employment law attorney who dispenses advice for a business publication says that employers keep posing the question about the Family and Medical Leave Act.

The lawyer writing for the publication Workforce lays out his argument, starting with Lay v. Louisville, a case decided last year. The plaintiff worked in the Louisville-Jefferson County Metro Government as a packer, but applied for and received a promotion to equipment operator. The new job required him to have a commercial driver’s license, which he could obtain within his first three months in his new position.

During those first three months, however, his leg was broken in an accident unrelated to work. Because of the injury, he took FMLA leave.

During the leave, he was fired because he had not gotten his required commercial driver’s license.

The fired worker then hired an employment law attorney and sued, claiming that his firing violated his rights under the FMLA. Unsurprisingly, the court decided in his favor, holding that “requiring an employee to work while on leave from work is the definition of interference with an employee’s FMLA rights.”

The lawyer writing for Workforce says the bottom line for employers is this: “If an employee is out on FMLA leave, leave the employee alone.”

This, too, seems obvious, yet we know of instances in the Milwaukee area in which employers have tried to get employees on leave to essentially do their jobs from home while recuperating from injury or illness.

If you have had this or something similar happen in your workplace, contact the law offices of Alan C. Olson & Associates, s.c.


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