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If FMLA is Needed, An Employee Must Follow Company FMLA
Chicago, IL (Law Firm Newswire) February 25, 2013 - FLMA rules and protocol are in place for employees to
follow. If the rules are not followed, they may not have a case.
“Not all FMLA cases that go to court are successful,” points out Timothy Coffey, a Chicago employment lawyer
and principal attorney for The Coffey Law Office, P. C., an employment litigation firm dedicated to representing
employees in the workplace. “This case, Nicholson v. Pulte Homes, No. 11-2238, 7th Cir., 2012, was not a
winner for the plaintiff.”
In Nicholson v. Pulte Homes, the plaintiff was employed as a sales associate. Over the course of her
employment, the woman’s supervisor catalogued several complaints about her attitude filed by customers.
Subsequently, her sales track record showed a decline in numbers, and the woman was put on a performance
improvement plan. For whatever reasons, her attitude did not improve, and the company fired her.
The woman took her case to an employment lawyer and filed a lawsuit stating she had actually been terminated
because her ailing parents needed her help, and she would have likely had to trigger FMLA leave. “On the
surface, without any further facts, this case may have had a chance of winning in court. However, there were two
pertinent points raised about the lawsuit,” indicated Coffey.
The first point was that the employer has an FMLA handbook that lays out in clear terms what an employee
needed to do to get all the information they needed and how to have their leave approved. It also outlined an
employee’s rights relating to FMLA leave. The woman did admit she was aware of the process, but did not use
The second point, made by the defendant, was that the woman had not only not called the Human Resources
department, as instructed in the handbook, but had not even told her supervisor she may need to take leave. He
was only aware that she helped take her parents to doctor’s appointments on her days off.
In light of those two points, the court dismissed the case, stating that if she did not follow a procedure she
was aware of and did not mention anything to her immediate supervisor, then she could not have been
fired for asking for FMLA leave. “The lesson in the case is that an employee must do more than just
mention in passing that they ‘may’ need to take FMLA leave. They must follow protocols in place and clearly
inform their supervisors as well,” said Coffey.
Timothy Coffey is a Chicago employment lawyer and principal attorney for The Coffey Law Office, P. C.,
an employment litigation firm dedicated to representing employees in the workplace. To learn more or to
contact a Chicago employment attorney, visit http://www.employmentlawcounsel.com
THE COFFEY LAW OFFICE, P.C.
351 W. Hubbard Street, Suite 602
Chicago, IL 60654
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