The Family Medical Leave Doctors Note Requirement

family medical leave doctors noteThe Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) allows workers to take time off from their jobs if they have suffered from a serious illness, or they need to take care of an immediate family member who has. But in order to use these benefits, employers require that these absences be certified with a note from the doctor.

Family Medical Leave Doctor’s Note Requirement

FMLA helps workers take the time they need to deal with health issues without fear of losing their job. Under this law, a worker may take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave if they, or an immediate family member, is suffering from a serious medical condition and needs care. While workers are taking this time off, employers are required to maintain their existing health insurance coverage and guarantee that when they’re ready to return, their current job, or its equivalent, will be available to them.

Workers are also allowed to take intermittent leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act, so they can use their 12 weeks of time in separate blocks. This gives workers the flexibility they need to go to doctor’s appointments, receive treatments, and take time off to recuperate. In addition, FMLA gives employees the right to work reduced hours if their doctor believes it would be in their best interest.

But the catch is, workers may be required to supply a doctor’s note to their employer—a measure that’s designed to prevent someone from abusing FMLA. However, the law provides the following limitations on the medical note requirement.

• Employers are not allowed to ask workers for a new doctor’s note more often than every 30 days. In addition, if an employee has a note that says he or she will need intermittent medical leave, employers should not ask for additional certification as long as the note includes the expected amount of time the employee will need off from work and the approximate dates the time should be taken.
• Organizations may require a doctor’s note as part of its attendance policy, but the policy must be enforced in the same way for all workers. Employers cannot target certain employees for enforcement of their attendance rules.
• An employer may not ask personal questions about the nature of the illness an employee needs time off to address. An employee is only required to get a doctor’s note certifying the need to take FMLA time off and is not obligated to discuss personal details about the illness.

Family Medical Leave Doctor’s Notes in Court

In order to discourage abuse of FMLA benefits, particularly around weekends and holidays, Oak Harbor Freight Lines, Inc. had a policy that required documentation every time an employee requested to take intermittent medical leave. This requirement culminated in one employee being suspended, and another getting terminated, for violating the company’s attendance policy. The organization looked to the court to determine if its policy was within FMLA guidelines, and it was recently decided that the rule did in fact infringe on employees’ rights. The court stated that requiring so many doctor notes was too rigid and went against the spirit of FMLA.


Women’s Rights Advocate Arrested for Under Paying Her Nanny

womans rightsGawker reports today that an Indian diplomat based in New York City has been arrested for paying her nanny 3 dollars an hour.

The diplomat, Devyani Khobragade, was publicly humiliated and arrested as she dropped her child off at school and taken away by the police.

As India’s deputy consul general for political, economic, commercial and women’s affairs, Ms. Khobragade publicly pressed for the fair treatment of women.  At her own home, however, she reportedly abused her nanny by paying her $3.00 an hour.  It is a miracle that the nanny could survive in New York City on those wages.

The hardship apparently got the best of the nanny who reported her unfair treatment.  The inquiry exposed further trouble for Ms. Khobragade who gave false information in visa documents by overstating the amount she paid to her nanny.

The incident has sparked a dispute with India over diplomatic immunity.   India claims that its deputy counsel cannot be arrested or charged with a crime.   The United States claims that diplomatic immunity does not cover this conduct.

Most of the stories about this case focus on the diplomatic immunity issue and political gamesmanship behind the scandal.  India had recently arrested an Italian diplomat and made a similar claim about immunity not applying in that case.   But the real story about the under payment of the nanny by a privileged hypocrite is getting lost.


Religious Discrimination over Circumcision

religious discrimination

San Francisco is probably one of the most open-minded and accepting places in America. But part of the feel good culture includes a resistance to anything that looks evil or painful (tattoos and body piercing excepted).

Circumcision is not popular in the City by the Bay. So the Volokh Conspiracy blog poses a hypothetical about a Jewish family trying to hold a Bris in San Francisco.

If local businesses refuse to provide services to the family, would that amount to religious discrimination?

To answer that question, you have to understand what motivated the decision of the local business.

If the decision was driven by a dislike of Judaism then the answer is yes (religious discrimination did occur). But if the local business just does not want to support a circumcision then the answer is no because it was not about religion.  The local business, presumably, would deny services to anyone seeking those services.

Companies Still Misclassify Employees

The government crackdown against employee missclassification continues.

Companies save money by classifying employees at independent contractors. By doing this, companies avoid paying overtime and providing other benefits to employees. They also don’t pay taxes for these employees and as a result, the federal and state governments lose millions in tax revenue.  This is why government agencies are scrutinizing employers over this issue.