My employee went on FMLA leave for 3 months, then just before it ended, she said she was on disability leave for 2 months more. She never provided any documentation or doctors’ notes for either leave. She has not returned to work. Can I fire her?
Steve Duggan replies:
You could conclude that she had abandoned her position, a voluntary termination. However, I am troubled by the facts you report. I cannot imagine how an employee can go on either FMLA or disability leave without providing documentation of the need for the leave(s). Even if she didn’t, the employer can require information from a doctor regarding the need for either type of leave. If it does so, and she does not provide it, she can be terminated for unexcused absences and/or abandonment of her position. But, in your case, it appears that the employer acquiesced to five months of personal leave, because it did not assert its rights during that time, and therefore would be at some risk to fire her now without at least first warning her of its intent to do so if required documentation is not provided. I recommend that you consult with your HR director or above, and probably Legal, before taking any further action.
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