The 11th Circuit recently released a new decision denying a FMLA leave claim. I only occasionally write about FMLA issues. However, these issues can arise in many of our Alabama workers’ compensation claims. In many larger companies covered by FMLA, injured workers are dealing with both systems at the same time. FMLA issues can also arise, from time-to-time, in some of our other personal injury claims where an employee needs leave to deal with a serious health issue. I’ve also represented clients in FMLA cases in our Federal Court system. So, I stay up-to-date on new case decisions under the FMLA.
Back to the recent 11th Circuit decision. In the recent case of Walker v. United Parcel Services (UPS), the 11th Circuit affirmed a lower court decision against a worker who had pursued FMLA interference and retaliation claims. Basically, the decision comes down to this — The worker failed to support his claim with any documentation. By that I mean, the worker apparently failed to provide any real documentation at all.
Keep in mind, the rules are pretty favorable for a worker needing leave. Once an employee gives notice that potentially qualifying leave is needed, the employer must determine whether the absence actually qualifies for FMLA leave. The worker does not need any special knowledge of FMLA. He just needs to let his employer know he needs time. So, it’s a pretty loose standard with much of the burden on the employer. However, an employer may require the employee to support the leave with a certification from his health care provider. That was the issue in this case.