Can You Offer Employees an Option to Work on FMLA Leave?
Posted: June 10, 2018
If an employee is still able to work but requests leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) — say, to care for a spouse — is it interference to offer them the option to continue working while taking leave?
That question was at the center of a recent FMLA lawsuit. The answer, according to a federal appeals court, is "no."
And employers everywhere will want to take note of why the court ruled that way.
Employee had two choices
The court tackled this issue after Vacations To Go sales representative Karen D'Onofrio sued her employer (D'Onofrio v. Vacation Publications Inc.), claiming it interfered with her FMLA leave by asking her if she wanted to work while on leave.
D'Onofrio had requested FMLA leave to care for her sick husband. She sold ocean cruises and had ongoing contact with her customers.
After Vacations To Go approved her leave, it asked that D'Onofrio choose between two options:
- She could go on unpaid leave, or
- While taking leave, log in remotely a few times per week and continue to service her existing accounts.
D'Onofrio chose the second option. But when her employment came to an end at Vacations To Go, she filed the interference lawsuit.
Result: The court then threw out her claim.
It said the FMLA permits "voluntary and uncoerced acceptance of work by employees on medical leave, so long as acceptance is not a condition of employment."
In other words, because her decision to work was completely voluntary, there was no interference.
Posted In: Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
Want to know more? Read the full article by Jared Bilski at HR Morning