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FMLA Leave Frustrations

Imagine you are an HRM professional in your organization's head office. Your employer recently has expanded and you have been assigned HRM duties over that newly acquired facility.

The following situation has occurred recently in the newly acquired company:

Manager Mike and employee Ellen have worked for this company for 15 years and 17 years, respectively. Ellen is a happy employee and has had satisfactory performance reviews throughout her employment. Recently, though, she has frequently missed work because of health problems. In the last 10 months, Ellen has taken approximately 10 weeks of intermittent FMLA leave. She just told Mike that she will be missing the next four days of work for a medical procedure. She gave Mike a note from her physician, which Mike grudgingly accepted. Aside from Ellen's attendance, most employees in the organization have not noticed any deterioration in Ellen's performance. Employees have grumbled often to Mike about the amount of work Ellen misses, however.

Even though Ellen is entitled to a total of 12 weeks per rolling calendar year of FMLA leave, and she follows the company's procedures in requesting leave, Mike is tired of Ellen missing days of work. Lately, Mike has been much more critical of Ellen's performance. At Ellen's annual performance review two weeks ago, Mike gave Ellen a sub-par evaluation because of her lack of "reliability." He put Ellen on a performance plan and told Ellen that if she does not improve her performance, she will be terminated. Ellen tells her company's receptionist (who also performs the HRM duties in the company) that she thinks Mike is treating her differently since he learned that she has a disability and since she started taking FMLA leave.

The HR Representative is perplexed on what to do and has called you for direction on how to tackle this situation.

To address in your paper:

Is there a potential legal issue here? Please explain. Is it in this employer's best interest to encourage employees to exercise their legal rights?

What do you think needs to be done? To whom and/or with whom? Why? Be specific.

What are the important take-aways for employers to learn from this case?

In your opinion is creating an environment without retaliation possible in an organization of managers who also care about productivity?

Solution Preview

Is there a potential legal issue here? Please explain. Is it in this employer's best interest to encourage employees to exercise their legal rights?

The legal issue is that if Ellen has a health related disability and is discriminated against in employment related activities, then it is a violation of The Americans with Disabilities Act. Title I, ADA protects Allen. She can approach the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission for the enforcement of the ADA. According to Title II, the State and Local governments also protect people with disabilities.

The fact that Allen has a genuine health problem makes her eligible for protection under the ADA. Mike ...

Solution Summary

FMLA Leave Frustration is discussed very comprehensively in this explanation..