Thanks to a strong trail of paperwork, one employer was able to prove it had perfectly complied with the Family Medical Leave Act.

Joanne McCalla’s son had cancer. As a result, she requested FMLA leave from her employer, AvMed, a Florida-based health plan provider.

Upon her request, McCalla was given copies of AvMed’s Notice of Eligibility and Rights & Responsibilities. It stated that while on leave, she’d be required to use her paid vacation time.

After receiving certification from McCalla’s son’s heathcare provider, AvMed approved her leave. At that time McCalla was given a Designation Notice, which informed her “all leave taken for this reason will be designated as FMLA leave” and reminded her that AvMed required her to use her paid leave during FMLA leave.

Time exhausted, employee fired, company sued

Eventually, McCalla exhausted her FMLA leave. AvMed then sent her a notice saying she needed to return to work. When she refused, she was terminated.

McCalla sued, claiming she didn’t realize her PTO time was being used concurrently with her FMLA time.

A court threw her claim out. Reason: AvMed had supplied plenty of documentation to McCalla stating both her PTO and FMLA clocks would be run at the same time. So if she didn’t know, it was on her — not AvMed.

Case closed.

OK to run both concurrently

Asking employees to use their accrued PTO time while one FMLA leave is a common practice that’s perfectly acceptable under federal law.

But it’s crucial that employees know both clocks can be run at the same time. And it’s always a good idea to check to make sure employees know that’s how it works.

Over-communication’s good for employees (they won’t lose their jobs because they didn’t realize their leave expired), and it’s good for employers (it improves the chance employees return from leave on time).

Cite: McCalla v. AvMed, Inc.


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