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Companies Asking for Doctor Notes for Absence When Workers are on Intermittent FMLA Leave May be Sued

If you are working for a company that is asking you to produce a doctor’s note when you are absent when you are already on an abridged calendar leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act, you may be the victim of illegal FMLA interference.

A recent federal court decision will significantly impact on companies that have an employee head count policy or paid sick leave policies that demand workers justify their absences with doctor’s notes if a worker is already on intermittent leave under the FMLA.

The decision centered on the finding that the defendant company’s attendance policy illegally obstructed the plaintiff’s use of FMLA leave, by mandating that a doctor’s note must be turned in after every absence, despite the fact that the doctor had already sent in a certification stating the need for sporadic leave for up to a year.

The court indicated the company demanding a doctor’s note every time the worker was not there ultimately discouraged the plaintiff, and other workers, from taking intermittent leave. In addition, it found that the FMLA’s recertification regulations already protect the company from an employee’s abuse of leave.

While the defendant argued that they were just enforcing their attendance policy, which also acted to discourage leave abuse, the court held that the note requirement unjustly interfered with FMLA leave because it was burdensome and may compel the worker to submit notes on a weekly or more recurrent basis. The judge further held that recertification is the preferred way to verify a worker’s time off is related to the FMLA and is so stated in the regulations.

If you find yourself in a similar situation, this is something that really needs to be discussed with a Chicago employment lawyer who stands up for worker’s rights. You will need to know precisely what those rights are, what may be done about the situation, what will happen should you go to court and what you may expect as an outcome to your case.

Timothy Coffey is a Chicago employment lawyer and principal attorney for The Coffey Law Office, P. C., an employment litigation firm dedicated to representing employees in the workplace. To learn more or to contact a Chicago employment attorney, visit