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employer response to fmla leave
Apr 27, 2004

My wife has been suffering from post partum depression and as a result I've had to call out of work, often at the last minute, because she is unable to take care of herself or our baby. My boss has made statements to me concerning the condition of my department, when I'm not there and even said that I "should have been there" on a night I had to call out. He has made comments such as "it would be in your best interest" if you would come in early today, because I had to call out the previous 4 days and my department was in poor condition because of my absence. Can he make these statements under FMLA? What is the procedure for the employer to request medical information from me for my wife? Do they have to request it in writing? Thanks for any help you can give.

Response from Ms. Breuer

The FMLA application lists a number of categories as possible reasons for requesting the leave. None of them is a diagnosis. Your employer may be curious or nosy, but that does not give him the right to probe for diagnostic information.

You have your hands full at the moment, so I hesitate to encourage you to add a task. But to protect your job, I would encourage you to spend the minimal amount of time and money that would be required to have an attorney write a clarifying letter to your employer about FMLA rights. I'm not talking about a threatening tone, but an informational letter.

Beyond that, what steps are in place for training someone who can assume leadership of your department when you're not there? That's a question you could throw back to your boss yourself in response to one of his veiled threats next time. Compliment him on his having uncovered a problem and tell him you'd like to talk with him about grooming someone in your department to take over when you have to be out. Make it a business issue rather than a personal/diagnosis issue. That may be all it takes to redirect his inappropriate comments/questions.



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