Family Medical Leave Act

Updated on June 21, 2010
L.D. asks from Las Vegas, NV
12 answers

For those of you who are in the know, what is the policy with the Family Leave Act? What if a family member has had surgery and needs you to stay home and care for him while he recovers, would a doctor's note stating such be sufficient to allow you to take a week of pursuant to the FLA? My niece works as a department manager for a large grocery chain in California. Her husband recently had surgery and my nieced used up her vacation time to stay home for a week to take care of him. During his follow up appointment, his doctor told them that she needed to stay home an additional week to care for her husband because he just hasn't recovered enough, and the doctor wrote a note to submit to her employer, saying as much. When she gave the doctor's note to her immediate supervisor, he told her that he would not grant her the leave and now he has begun making statements about how he's not sure that she is not management material since she has family and how can she possibly handle both. Prior to that, within the last 3 years, she had been promoted several times while she was married with a kid and had always received favorable performance reviews. Whatever feedback you can give me would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

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So What Happened?

The company that she works for definitely has more than 50 employees probably within that particular grocery store location alone and this is her first time requesting to take a Family Medical Leave during her 9-years of employment with the company. The mistake she made was asking her direct supervisor to take the time of first and then approaching HR about it. HR has told her that the company has the discretion on whether it will grant her request for a family medical leave when scheduling is an issues which, it says, it was. After 9-years of solid performance and promotions within the company, she's not being told by her direct superivisor that he doesn't think she is capable of being management material because she has family. She's now keeping a diary of his comments just in case. Unfortunately, her union really hasn't been very helpful.

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answers from Tulsa on

I work for a large grocery chain in Oklahoma. She needs to go through HR. She will most likely have to have a certain form filled out by the doctor, not just a note.
If the FMLA is for a relative, she isn't legally entitled to pay. She is also entitled to legal action if there is a backlash against her for taking FMLA.

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answers from Dallas on

Have her contact Human Resources for the company she works for - I never went through my direct supervisor for things like this, as they are not the experts. HR can tell her what will apply as far as FMLA. If it is only for a week, I'm not sure why she can't get a week off, unpaid of course w/o using FMLA. I don't think she will get paid with FMLA. She can also ask about her promotability due to this and inquire about how she is being treated. B/c she has positive reviews in writing the manger cannot use this as a tool to hold her back. Also, if she uses the term 'indirect push out', at least in Texas, that is illegal and considered harassment. I had an incident happen to me and I contacted HR saying I was being indirectly pushed out and soon after my boss came running to me apologizing!

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answers from Seattle on

Grocery Stores & Restaurants have "cheats" to get around FMLA & the law. They don't fire you, they don't lay you off... instead they either "don't put you on the schedule"... or they make your hours as RIDICULOUS as they can under the law. Like a 2 hour shift every 8 hours.

The upside to a large chain is 2 fold :

1) She can kick it to the Union and let them deal with the lawyers and petty politicking (as long as the union isn't in negotiations they should back her) if she's a union worker (crossing my fingers)

2) She can kick it upstairs, and the resultant follow from Crappy McBosserson she can avoid by getting transferred to another store.

My DH lost his job with Kroger for having the gall to not go into/stay at work the day our son was born. Union was in negotiations, so no union support. He'd been an employee and union for over 8 years at that point, and had a stellar record, but a crappy new boss. It's one of the thousands of cases that never gets brought, because we were broke with a VERY new baby, and couldn't afford to waste the time or money. Turned out for the best, because he ended up getting a great job that paid 10k more per year, and it had a REAL schedule, so he could go back to school, which turned around and really upped our income level... but at the time it was super stressful.

If her boss is being a real jerk, he can certainly make her situation impossible. So try and kick it up the food chain... but just be ready. Either way, she wouldn't have a job... so there is no harm in trying.

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answers from Atlanta on

She needs to have worked there for a year and they must employ at least 50 employees they don't need to be at that location they can be up to I believe 100 miles away.
If all of the criteria is meant she should remind her manager that the Dr.'s note is a legal document and that under law she able to take this leave and anything threatened to her will chalked up to retailiation but it's all about what you can prove I suggest she get a voice activated recorder to document these meetings and threats.

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answers from Honolulu on

try looking it up online.

Or, she should talk to her HR department.

Next, her Supervisor saying things like that, can be discrimination.
I would, DOCUMENT everything... to protect herself.
Document everything.

In the future, for any communication with her boss, I would, put it in writing... AND "cc" the Human Resources Department. As well.
Or, have her tell her HR department what that Supervisor is saying... because it is inappropriate and discriminatory.

all the best,

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answers from Los Angeles on

I am in California and I know a little bit about this. My employer did not pay for FMLA, so if I would have taken it I wouldn't have had any income. There are forms she needs to either print out from their employer website or get from someone in HR then fill them out and have the doctor fill them out. Usually FMLA is used for more then just a week, but I dont see why it couldn't be used for a small period of time. After that have her submit the completed forms (both by her and doctor) to HR. Its not up to her immediate supervisor to approve of diapprove, and further more he shouldn't be making those comments. Honestly he is saying she can't be in management because she has a family, well thats just prejudice!

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answers from Redding on

First of all, have her take a look at the laws for her state regarding FMLA.
I became very ill and took up all my vacation and sick time, but I was still trying to go to work. I missed 3 hours per week for my medical appointments, etc, and my employer was horrible to me about it.
My doctor assumed, incorrectly, that I was covered by FMLA and wrote notes, letters, etc. However, my employer wasn't bound by the law because there weren't enough employees within a certain mile radius, etc.
I ended up being put on state disability instead, which was better, because it gave me an income. I was harrassed and threatened and everything else by my employer for being too ill to work. When I was finally released to go back to work, I did not return to that job. Not after the way they treated me.

Anyway, my friends' kid got sick and there was no problem getting FMLA leave. The child had cancer so they weren't going to give them a bad time about that or saving their jobs. Dad worked intermittently, but when they had to be in San Francisco for treatments, questions asked. Both parents positions were covered under FMLA so they had no choice, but it didn't have to get ugly.
It seems to me that a valued employee should be able to take time off with no pay for something like this, FMLA or not. But, employers are increasingly treating people like "If you can't do your job, there are about 100 other people who would be happy to do so."
I hope the Act applies in this case and things get worked out.
Like other moms have said, an immediate supervisor is probably not the best person to try to deal with in this situation.

Best wishes!

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answers from Los Angeles on

Haha what a jerk! She doesn't need to give any sort of explanation for her leave (I took a month off FMLA for personal stress leave) and all those comments she should be writing down and taking it up with HR asap. As long as she has a dr's note she doesnt even need to give it to her immediate sup. she can go directly to HR. they will ask if its work related and have her fill out a form and thats it. I'm in CA too...

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answers from Las Vegas on

The previous posts of 50 employees & employed for 1 yr are correct. You might be able to get it approved as Short Term Disability as well??? I wish you luck as I had worked for a major corp. for 3yrs was out for unexpected emergency surgery and 3 wks after coming back I was not only harassed but put on a 90 day PIP and then let go. Much more detail but they can pretty much do whatever they want unless you have the $$$ to go legal. This all came from the comany who's logo is when you care enough to send the very best. I was treated far better by my husband's comany than my own...his company sent cards, books, flowers - mine, nothing. GOOD LUCK! Remember, family comes FIRST!

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answers from Chicago on

I took FMLA leave when my husband had surgery and ended up not able to walk and needed more therapy to get moving again. She should go to HR for this, not her supervisor. She may not be paid, but they should hold her job. She should see if there is an employee manual about this. If they have written policy they must follow it--no changing the rules to one person.

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answers from Seattle on

Well her employer must be obligated to provide FMLA (over 50 employees) and she must be eligible (worked there for at least one year and not have taken her FMLA before).
If they are obligated and she is eligible she should not bother continuing to mess with her supervisor but contact her HR department.
Where I work a doctors not as you describe is sufficient, but employees MUST apply for FMLA with HR, since the managers are not usually qualified to decide whether or not someone meets eligibility.
Technically this should not have a negative impact on her career, but factually many companies could care less about how employees are protected from such discrimination under the law and do what they want anyways.
This should not influence her decision to do what is best for her family.
Family first, money second.
Good luck!

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answers from Baton Rouge on

You have to apply for FMLA through the HR department. The doctor has to fill out a form and then it has to be approved. I am having to file for FMLA for myself right now.

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