FMLA - Being harrassed for using approved time

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Latest post 05-01-2011 10:44 AM by cbg. 8 replies.
  • 04-28-2011 8:55 PM

    • kre8tiv1
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    FMLA - Being harrassed for using approved time

    If an employee is on approved FMLA, does the employer have the right to "harrass" the employee for taking off?

    I am on intermittent FMLA for severe anemia, which causes me to become very exhausted.  I have already discussed with my Superior and the VP of HR that my worst days are Friday and Monday....and also "that time of the month" (apologize in advance if that offends any readers).  Well, "that time" happened on Good Friday --which was a regular work day.  I called out of work on that day, citing FMLA. I also took an FMLA day on Monday because I still was feeling exhausted. Note: I have had my FMLA since January and have only taken approximately 4 1/2 FMLA days, so clearly I am not an abuser.  And, I have never taken off two days in a row, or a Friday/Monday combination.

    Today my boss called me into her office to say that she was taken aback that I took an FMLA day on Friday and Monday, with Easter being on Sunday.  I reminded her that I previously informed her on more than one occasion that Fridays and Mondays are my most difficult days.  She repsonded that she understood about Friday because it was the end of the week, but didn't understand why I was also so tired on Monday.  Seriously, how am I to answer that?  I don't really know myself why I'm exhausted on Mondays also.  She continued on for a while about how astounded she was that I took off on Good Friday and the Monday after Easter.

    I should also mention that there was an incident with the CEO several weeks ago when I left work early on FMLA. I informed the Senior VP that I was leaving early due to FMLA (my boss and the VP of HR were not in).  She insisted that I let the CEO know I was leaving (I do not report to him, and to my knowledge, no one else has ever been asked to do this). Right before I left, my doctor returned my call on my cell phone. I went into the employee kitchen to take the call (which is permitted). The CEO came into the kitchen while I was on the phone, stood there awhle while I was speaking to my doctor and then finally said, "either your staying or your going"  and walked out.

    In any case, I feel that I am being harrassed and would like to know if there is anything I can do?

  • 04-28-2011 10:10 PM In reply to

    • Drew
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    Re: FMLA - Being harrassed for using approved time

    Suggestion from a layman / old HR corpie --keep good records and try to be professional and down play it.

    I don't see any winning odds to force a confrontation as to your rights . Just be sure of the rules and keep to the offical rules to seek and use FMLA.

    There are simply  all to many alpha types who think that one must be present 24/7 in order to be a good employee -and equate an absence with disloyalty or inability.

    Now to some extent the harsh reality is that an employee who cannot keep up or may run into more expensive medical problems become a liability to the firm and I've seem folks pushed out the door basically to prevent them from being a problem later on---no other polite way to say it.--don't give mangement any room to question your work ability.

    Sadly I've worked with a few women who did exploit that time of the month so as to avoid work and what was isolated abuse soon rubbed off on any female and the performance of that department head because a standing joke . You may need to discretely re educate your boss that your is not just a regular monthly issue .

    One of my lawyer friends is convinced that older female bosses who paid dues to the system under older harsher times  are much more harsh on younger females that are males of similar age and skills --I simply don't know but both my daughters will tell me they will pick a male boss any day over a female boss.

    Part of being successful is tuning into what makes your boss tick----



  • 04-28-2011 10:42 PM In reply to

    • LG81
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    Re: FMLA - Being harrassed for using approved time

    Respectfully, although it must be frustrating to deal with the inquiries when it appears you are not abusing the leave, I don't believe what you described has risen to the level of harassment -- especially not in any legal sense.

    Perhaps one of the things you could do to try and prevent a Friday/Monday combo is to evaluate what you do on weekends.  I work very hard during the week (and often do a lot of company work on weekends too from home) and also "play" very hard on weekends and do all my weekly chores.  Sometimes I kid after a weekend or a vacation that it's good to come back to work to "rest up."  Maybe you could look at whether you are trying to pack in a lot of household chores or other activities on Sundays and see what you could move to Saturday so that you are able to get plenty of rest on Sundays.  Maybe you could consult with your doctor and see if there is anything additional regimines you could do when you are especially weak.

    As for the CEO incident, when you saw him standing there while you were on the phone, I might have just politely said, "I'm on the phone with my doc.  Can I get back to you as soon as we're done?".

  • 04-28-2011 10:58 PM In reply to

    Re: FMLA - Being harrassed for using approved time

    "In any case, I feel that I am being harrassed and would like to know if there is anything I can do?"

    I don't believe it is harassment.  Let me give you a different perspective.

    "I informed the Senior VP that I was leaving early due to FMLA ...Right before I left, my doctor returned my call on my cell phone."

    You informed them you needed to leave early due to being ill and then the CEO sees you in the break room talking on your cell phone.  He/she has no way of knowing you are talking to your physician.  For all they know you are making weekend plans.  Generally when an employee is leaving sick they just leave they aren't in the break room or anywhere else on a personal call. And yes, even if you are talking to your doctor it is a personal call.

    When you have to leave on FMLA just leave.  DO NOT delay and do anything that gives the appearance that your departure is anything other than above board.

    "Today my boss called me into her office to say that she was taken aback that I took an FMLA day on Friday and Monday, with Easter being on Sunday."

    The problem is your timing is that you needed the time last minute around one of the seven holidays that employers recognize.  It seems suspicious that you ONLY need FMLA on Fridays and Mondays thus leading to three or four day weekends.  The employers I have worked for have all had a policy that if you call out sick before or after a recognized holiday you are not paid for the holiday in order to keep employees from abusing the time off and having mass "sick outs" in order to get more time off.

    I think the issue is that you are stating your illness ONLY flares on Friday or Monday leading to long weekends.  Even though you haven't abused it, the timing of the absences is what is getting attention not your illness or that you use FMLA.  

    I would suggest that if your physician is not finding a cause or a way to treat this that it may be time to consult a hematologist and get to the root of it.  I would also be looking at the timing of absences and consider that perspective when your employer reacts the way they do.

    "That's just my opinion, then again I might be wrong."  Dennis Miller

     

  • 04-28-2011 11:22 PM In reply to

    • LG81
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    Re: FMLA - Being harrassed for using approved time

    ClydesMom:
    The employers I have worked for have all had a policy that if you call out sick before or after a recognized holiday you are not paid for the holiday in order to keep employees from abusing the time off and having mass "sick outs" in order to get more time off.

    Right on.  I've seen this become more common in the last couple of years.  In the last few years, folks who requested extended holiday weekends in advance (and were approved - can't grant to everyone so have to decide a way to be fair) have not been penalized.  However, someone who calls out the day after a paid holiday and weren't previously approved were not paid for the holiday (and it was made policy so there was no confusion or headaches around folks claiming unfair treatment).  Of course, in your field (medical), it's even more critical to have an adequate workforce available.  While in my field, excessive call-outs can hurt production, on-time delivery, and profitability, it's even more crucial in yours.

  • 04-29-2011 2:21 AM In reply to

    Re: FMLA - Being harrassed for using approved time

    Agreed.  I find  it  suspicious also.  With intermittent FMLA, your employer has the  right to require your doctor to recertify your need for  FMLA no more frequently than every 30 days.

  • 04-29-2011 3:22 PM In reply to

    Re: FMLA - Being harrassed for using approved time

    It is incredibly suspicious thatyour medical condition gets worse on days that give you a 3 or 4 day weekend. Can you provide medical documentation to back that up?

  • 04-30-2011 2:04 PM In reply to

    • kre8tiv1
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    Re: FMLA - Being harrassed for using approved time

    Thank you all for responding and providing good suggestions and insight. 

    Lynn M. - I'll try to be more specific about my condition: I have severe anemia.  I am always exhausted, in addition it causes me to have irregular heart beats, dizziness and shortness of breath.  I struggle with this every day of the week.  By the time Friday rolls around, I pretty much have given all that I've got (my doctors have said to me on several occasions that they are surprised I have the strength to get out of bed every morning).  So it doesn't just flare up on Friday, but rather it comes to a crescendo on Friday.  I have plenty of medical documentation to back me up on my condition and continued treatment.  I have tried intravenous iron therapy, but had an allergic reaction.  I am currently taking high does of iron in pill form, but it takes a while for ones body to replenish.  Once I am more stable medically, I will have a uterine ablation, as after extensive testing, it was narrowed down to the anemia being caused by heavy menstrual bleeding.  

    A poster mentioned perhaps doing too much on the weekend causes me to be tired on Monday.  I wish I had the energy to do too much on the weekend!  LOL  That's not the case.  It's just the nature of the condition that I'm dealing with right now.  And for the poster who mentioned seeing a hematologist.  Thank you for that wise suggestion...I am currently under the care of 3 specialists, including a hematologist.

    BTW, I checked with HR yesterday and I have taken a total of 3 1/3 days of FMLA since January.  Out of that time, I was "harassed” 2 1/3 of those days.  I think that is absurd to do that to an employee.  More specifically, it is legal?  Especially since I have not given the company any reason to think that I am abusing my leave (how can they when I’ve only taken 3 1/3 days in three months time?!)

     

  • 05-01-2011 10:44 AM In reply to

    • cbg
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    Re: FMLA - Being harrassed for using approved time

    Look, I'm sorry but what you have described simply does not reach the level of illegal harassment. Any employer would be suspicious when someone on intermittent FMLA only uses it in Fridays and Mondays. Regardless of how many times you've used it, the fact that they've only been used on days that will give you a long weekend is a legitimate cause of concern. I'm not saying that your use of these days is not legitimate, but at the same time I cannot see that your employer is violating any laws by checking under the circumstances.

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