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Approved Intermittent Medical Leave Doesn’t Require Doctor’s Note

A police officer, referred to as “Tyler,” had a son who suffered from sickle-cell anemia, requiring Tyler to miss work to care for him on an intermittent basis. Tyler requested and was approved to take intermittent medical leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) to care for his son.

Tyler’s employer had instituted a policy to stop perceived abuse of the department’s sick leave policy. Every six months it submitted a list of potential abusers of sick leave to the police officers’ union and notified the individual officers that they would be required to submit a doctor’s notice within seven days of taking sick leave or be docked pay for that time. Tyler’s name was on the list.

Tyler began taking intermittent medical leave to care for his son and was docked for eight hours of pay because he failed to provide a doctor’s note as required. Tyler’s medical provider refused to provide a doctor’s note unless he brought his son in for treatment. Tyler took family medical leave again a month later and received a two-day suspension for again failing to provide a doctor’s note for his absence.

He exhausted the department’s grievance procedure to no avail and took his case to court. He had to fight the FMLA violation all the way to his state appellate court to secure the protections of FMLA to approved intermittent medical leave. The court said Tyler should not have been required to provide a doctor’s note for every absence once he was approved for intermittent family leave and that forcing him to do so interfered with his rights under the FMLA.

In Tyler’s favor was that there was no allegation that he had ever abused the intermittent medical leave program. The days that he was out of work were legitimate uses of the job-protected leave benefit.

Source: HR.BLR.com, “Did NJ employer interfere with intermittent family leave rights?”

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