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Denial of FMLA by American Airlines
Mar 16, 2004

My Aunt has worked for American Airlines for 20+ years. Her husband, my Uncle was diagnosed with Cancer and currently receiving radiation treatment. She requested FMLA and was denied. How can American Ailines deny her FMLA as she has over 1200 hours sick leave. Who can we talk to about this? Thanks

Response from Ms. Breuer

FMLA leave is not tied to number of hours of sick leave, and the employer is not required to grant it. However, she has resources she can turn to. Is she a union employee? If so, her shop steward is the go-to person. Has she been dealing with a person in HR? If so, that person has a direct supervisor. Your aunt can request a meeting with the supervisor on the basis of needing an explanation or needing to make alternate arrangements. Remind her that the person who gets results in situations like this is firm, clear and rational. When approaching the supervisor, it may be helpful to continue to reflect her confusion rather than expressing what must be her anger. Keep your eyes on the prize: the goal here is to work out a way that she can care for your uncle. If the supervisor denies the FMLA request again, have her ask the supervisor what s/he would do in your aunt's shoes. Remember, everyone has a supervisor. Your aunt should continue to seek help until the leave is granted or another solution is developed.

Just a thought: did she submit the FMLA request to human resources, or to her own direct supervisor? That could make a difference. HR staff should be trained in applying the FMLA. Direct supervisors do not receive that kind of training in most companies.

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