Corporate Services Inc. — Employment Services
Printer-friendly


More News from Corporate Services, Inc.

Now We Know What Will Happen to All Those Invalidated NLRB Rulings
08/11/2014 About a month after the Supreme Court invalidated the 2012. . . more
Court: Medical Autonomy Not Violated by ACA's Individual Health Insurance Mandate
08/08/2014 A key provision of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) requiring. . . more
The Wrong Way to Deliver FMLA Notices to Employees
08/07/2014 Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays. . . more
Health Reform Still a Concern, but New Fears Top Employers' Lists
08/06/2014 It has been four years since the Affordable Care Act (ACA). . . more
The Swelling Tide of FCRA Class Actions: Practical Risk-Mitigating Measures for Employers
08/04/2014 The swelling tide of class action litigation against employers. . . more
Latest Attempt to Expand FMLA Offers Incentive for Employers
08/01/2014 As many of us know, Congress is interested in expanding. . . more

Court Confirms Honest Mistake Does Not Mean Doom in FMLA Suit

Posted:

If you fire a staffer for allegedly abusing leave and then turn out to be wrong, you can still win in court — if you meet this one requirement.

Tom Seeger, a network technician who worked for Cincinnati Bell Telephone Co. for nearly 30 years, suffered from a herniated lumbar disc and was approved for FMLA leave. His doctor stated that he could do "no work," including light duty. That meant, under his company's policies, that he could receive paid disability leave while out on FMLA.

Four days later, two co-workers ran into a "seemingly unimpaired" Seeger with his wife at Oktoberfest in downtown Cincinnati. One of those colleagues, knowing Seeger was on paid disability leave, alerted HR. The company responded by conducting an investigation which included sworn statements from the two witnesses, a review of Seeger's medical records and a request from Seeger and his doctor for information relevant to why Seeger was at Oktoberfest. After reviewing the info, the company suspended Seeger and ultimately fired him for "disability fraud," stating that he had "over-reported" his symptoms to avoid the part-time light-duty work that the company's paid-leave policy called for.

Seeger sued (case), claiming retaliation for taking FMLA leave. Based on the thoroughness of Cincinnati Bell's investigation and documentation, the court said the company met the requirements for protection under the "honest belief rule." The court found with the employer saying that the question was not if Seeger actually committed fraud, but if the company "reasonably and honestly" believed that he did. This company won because it could prove that it believed a worker was abusing leave.

Want to know more? Read the full article by Dan Wisniewski at HR Morning