Tuesday, August 31, 2010

8th Circuit Holds Employer May Waive Rights to Contest Employee's FMLA Leave

In a case that provides a powerful example of supervisors needing to pick their words very carefully when discussing time off with employees, the Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit recently held that "the totality of circumstances" could leave to a reasonable inference that an employee is putting an employer on notice and requesting additional FMLA leave.

So, what exactly did the supervisor, Jeff Karnes, say that led the plaintiff, Susan Murphy, in this case to believe that she had acquired additional FMLA leave?:

On September 11, Karnes contacted Murphy. He told her that her FMLA leave ended on September 7 and asked her how much more time she needed before returning to work. She said that she needed thirty days to "take care of things." Karnes told her "okay, cool, not a problem, I'll let HR know."

The problem is that when Karnes did let HR know, they disapproved and then Murhphy's employment was terminated which led to her FMLA interference lawsuit.

The case is Murphy v. FedEx, Inc., Nos. 09-3473/3518.

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