The US Court of Appeals (7th Cir) recently held that an honest suspicion of FMLA abuse was sufficient to fire an employee. The court dealt with the following facts:

In 2006, Carrier Corporation set out to remedy an excessive employee absenteeism problem which had developed at its Indianapolis manufacturing plant. As part of its plan, Carrier hired a private investigator to follow approximately thirty-five employees who were suspected of abusing the company’s leave policies. One of these employees was Daryl Scruggs, who was authorized to take intermittent leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”), 29 U.S.C. § 2601 et seq., to care for his mother in a nursing home. After surveillance revealed that Scruggs never left his home on a day he requested FMLA leave, Carrier suspended Scruggs pending further investigation. Scruggs submitted several documents to demonstrate that he picked up his mother from the nursing home on that day and took her to a doctor’s appointment, but Carrier believed the documents were suspicious and inconsistent. Accordingly, Carrier terminated Scruggs for misusing his FMLA leave.

The Court of Appeals found that as the employer had an honest suspicion of misuse of FMLA leave, the termination was affirmed.

 FMLA for Occupational Health Professionals: The Latest Developments will be presented by Jeff Nowak, Esq. at the SEAK 33rd Annual National Workers’ Compensation and Occupational Medicine Conference to be held on July16-18, 2013 on Cape Cod, MA.

Attorney Nowak, one of the nation’s leading legal experts on the FMLA, will discuss coverage and eligibility, reasons for leave, including serious health condition of employee and family member, bonding, family military, job protections, including reinstatement and benefits, and DOL enforcement issues. He will explain what is a serious health condition, who is a health care provider, medical certifications verifying an employee, family member and military family member’s need for leave, how to handle incomplete and unclear certifications, best practices for authentication and clarification procedures, second and third opinions, medical exams and fitness for duty. He will offer practical suggestions for best practices for managing intermittent and other leave abuse, overlap issues with the Americans with Disabilities Act, including overtime, attendance, and medical verification of the need for leave.

Click for additional information about the SEAK National Workers’ Compensation and Occupational Medicine Conference

Steven Babitsky, Esq. is the conference leader.