Category Archives: Leave Issues

Quirky Question #288: Zika in the Workplace?

Question: We have been flooded with coverage of Zika, from the Rio Olympics to the recent travel restrictions in Miami As an employer, I want to be prepared and proactive to protect my employees, but I am also concerned about overreacting. I understand there are many reported cases of Zika, but only six cases where the individual actually became infected with the virus by a mosquito bite in the United States. I want my company to take prudent measures, but also not to panic and cause my employees to unnecessarily fear for their wellbeing. What can (and should) I do to protect my employees? Also, are there any state or federal employment law obligations implicated by a potential Zika outbreak that I should be aware of? Answer→

Quirky Question #280: Minneapolis Sick and Safe Time Ordinance

Question: We are an employer that has a few employees working in Minneapolis, and just heard about a new law requiring employers to provide paid sick leave in Minneapolis. Will this apply to us? What are the requirements? And how long do I have to prepare?


Quirky Question #264, Oregon Employers: Beware!

Question: I am an employer in Oregon, and I understand Oregon Governor Kate Brown signed a whole slew of bills into law on Monday which will directly impact Oregon employers. What do I need to know?


Quirky Question #236, “I need some time off to give my daughter a mental boost…”


We employ a very elderly lady, Agnes. In fact, she’s a great-grandmother. She has asked to take some time off under the Family and Medical Leave Act. See tells us that her daughter Beatrice is out of the picture, but that Agnes raised Beatrice’s daughter, Catherine, who now herself has a two-year-old daughter Dorothy. Catherine is having foot surgery and won’t be fully ambulatory for a few weeks, so Agnes wants to take time off to help care for Dorothy. She says Catherine can take care of herself, but chasing after a toddler will be too much for her. Agnes says this will really take a load off Catherine’s mind. I’m not so sure this fits under the FMLA. What do you think? Answer→

Quirky Question #217, Bereavement Leave in Colorado and Oregon


An employee in our Corporate Office recently informed Human Resources that she was requesting bereavement leave with respect to her sister’s death last month.  When she was informed of our company policy, that up to 3 days of paid time off may be taken to attend the funeral, she said her attorney friend told her a new law requires two weeks.  I’ve never heard of this law? Answer→

Quirky Question # 170: Unconventional Medical Care and FMLA Coverage


We have a diverse workforce. While most of our employees utilize Western-style medicine for their medical needs, that is not uniformly true. Some employees rely upon non-traditional (at least not US traditions) medical treatment.

How far does the FMLA go with respect to these types of treatments? Recently, one of our employees sought FMLA coverage for faith-healing treatments. Although the employee’s belief that faith-healing might be genuine, do we have to cover it? Please, say it ain’t so. Answer→

Leave, Leave and More Leave, Quirky Question # 147

Quirky Question # 147:

We have an employee who has been with us for the past 10 years.  During the past five years of her employment, she has been absent the equivalent of five (5) years due to a variety of reasons.  She has taken leave to address issues with her family (including dissolution of her marriage), depression, surgeries, stress and anxiety, and caring for her son.  She has taken leave in lengthy contiguous periods, and intermittently.  She has exhausted every form of allowable leave, using up all her vacation days, all of her sick days, and all of the leave available to her under the Family and Medical Leave Act.  During this time, we have allowed her to take additional leave, contrary to our own leave policies.

Recently, this employee fainted while at work.  When the paramedics arrived to take her to the hospital, she told them that she lupus.  One of her co-workers was in the room when the employee disclosed this information, as was the employee’s manager.  When the employee returned to work two days later, she allegedly told her manager that she had “lupus and fibromyalgia,” although her manager does not recall her saying any such thing.

Both before and after this fainting incident, we have given this employee multiple disciplinary notices for her excessive absenteeism.  In the weeks following the fainting incident, the employee has continued to be excessively absent, and has not provided us with any evidence that her absences are related to lupus or another disability.

Yesterday, the employee met with her manager and presented a note from her physician.  This note stated that the employee had been under his care since just before the fainting incident, for neck, arm and back pain, which he believed was related to an on-the-job injury two years prior.  The physician also alluded to “a new diagnosis of a serious nature which may have been precipitated by the work related accident,” but provided no further information.  The physician went on to state that the employee would need “time off for Dr. visits and blood draws periodically,” and that she would “require special consideration for unpredictable fatigue and joint pain.”  The letter makes no mention of lupus or any other specific condition.

The employee’s manager wants to terminate her employment.  What should we do?


FMLA Preemptive Strike, Quirky Question # 83

Quirky Question # 83:

We have an employee who has only been with our firm for about 11 months.  He recently requested FMLA leave.  Although we generally like the guy and think he does good work, we have had problems in the past once employees start exercising their rights under the FMLA.  Frankly, they just are not as dependable.  Especially in the current economy, where all of our employees need to pull their weight, an unreliable employee presents a serious problem.

We checked into the employee’s status.  Given that he has not been with us for one year, we were pleased to discover that he is not eligible for FMLA coverage.  Therefore, we plan to fire him before he becomes eligible and passes that 12-month threshold.  This may seem a bit cold but with the unemployment rate rising quickly, it’s an employer’s market with respect to hiring.  We’re confident we can find a comparably qualified employee reasonably quickly.  Any reason not to proceed as I just outlined? Answer→

“Penalizing” Employee for Using Leave, Quirky Question # 64

Quirky Question # 64:

We have a number of programs at our company that are designed to reward employee behaviors that are important to the success of our company.  For example, we provide a financial benefit to employees who have 100 percent attendance annually.  Another example is that we provide our employees a bonus based on a combination of factors, including quality of their work, contributions to their department, and commitment and loyalty to our firm.

We periodically have employees take different types of leave, such as leave under the FMLA, maternity/paternity leave, and leave under the Americans With Disabilities Act.  One of our employees who recently took FMLA leave advised us that she does not think she should be disqualified from 100 percent attendance bonus, and should not be penalized for the bonus we provide based on the criteria listed above.

Her position makes no sense to me.  Why would she qualify for a perfect attendance bonus if she missed work?  Why should she qualify for a bonus based on her contributions when other people are working year-round and contributing more than she is?  Am I missing something? Answer→