Employee’s Failure to Recertify Previous FMLA Leave Warrants Dismissal


A Drexel University custodian failed to submit a medical certificate under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) for her leave months after completing it, rendering her ineligible for the leave and justifying her leave. release the following year, ruled the 3rd United States Court of Appeals. .

The complainant worked as a babysitter at Drexel University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. In May 2016, she was diagnosed with leiomyoma, a disease characterized by anemia and painful uterine fibroids. She informed Drexel’s director of care and support services that she needed time off from work to take care of her health. The manager told the complainant she could request FMLA leave and asked her to contact HR for more information.

The complainant did not have any further conversations with the manager about her medical issues, but later said she thought he likely would have helped if she asked for additional help. Instead, she hid her condition and did not tell anyone else about her condition.

The complainant eventually spoke to HR and requested FMLA leave for the first time in June 2016. She asked her doctor to correctly complete the required medical certificate and submitted it to the insurance company designated by Drexel for the. FMLA claims processing, Guardian Life Insurance Co. Guardian granted the claim. by letter dated August 11, 2016, and the applicant requested an extension until October 17, 2016.

The complainant then had difficulty with her FMLA claims. She requested additional leave from Oct. 18 to Nov. 30, and Guardian sent her a letter stating that she was eligible – but not approved – for a further extension for that period. He said additional information or certification was needed and attached a blank medical certification form to complete. When Guardian did not receive the completed form, it mailed the complainant a letter on November 9 stating that her request for FMLA leave from October 18 to November 30 had been denied. However, the Applicant continued to take leave.

The complainant then requested FMLA leave from December 1, 2016 to May 31, 2017. On January 11, 2017, Guardian informed her that she was eligible for FMLA leave for this period, but did not attach a recertification form. medical practitioner or told her that she must submit a completed one. On January 31, Guardian sent him a letter rejecting his request for non-return of recertification. On February 10, the Applicant’s doctor submitted a discharge certification form, but it was incomplete.

On February 28, Guardian sent the complainant a letter informing her that the certification was incomplete and attached a blank certification form asking her to complete it, taking care to include the data listed as incomplete and asking her to do so. return within seven days. She did not do it. On March 13, Guardian notified her that she had not received a fully completed recertification form and was therefore denied leave. However, the Applicant continued to take leave.

On May 18, 2017, the complainant requested a new physician to submit a properly completed recertification form, and Guardian approved her request for FMLA leave from May 18 to 31, 2017. At the end of 2017, the complainant was informed that ‘she was kicked out. She filed a lawsuit, alleging alleged interference with the rights of the FMLA, non-reinstatement under the FMLA, and non-adaptation and disability discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities. Pennsylvania Act and Law.

The district court allowed Drexel’s motion for summary judgment, finding that Drexel had provided sufficient notice of the certification requirements and had not interfered with the plaintiff’s FMLA rights. The claimant appealed to Circuit 3.

On appeal, Circuit 3 ruled that the complainant had to demonstrate that she was entitled to FMLA leave, which meant that she had to comply with US Department of Labor (DOL) regulations. Drexel’s FMLA policy was that she had to provide the requested medical certification, and she did not do so in November 2016, nor from December 1, 2016 to May 17, 2017.

While Drexel’s letter of January 11, 2017 did not include a blank recertification form as required by DOL regulations, Drexel corrected this error on February 28, 2017, by including the form.

Finally, the Applicant could not show that she had not taken into account her disability because she had not disclosed it to her supervisor and to others. Thus, the 3rd Circuit confirmed the rejection of its claims.

Watson v. Drexel University, 3rd Cir., N ° 20-3001 (27 Sep 2021).

Professional pointer: As this case shows, an employer can retain objections to an employee’s failure to follow FMLA procedures, even if the employee is following the procedures for a subsequent claim.

Jeffrey Rhodes is a lawyer with McInroy, Rigby & Rhodes LLP in Arlington, Virginia.


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