Family leave rights rigidly enforced

Maintenance Department Stockroom Attendant Mary Kaufman took a leave of absence under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) to care for her mother who had been released from the hospital following a heart attack.
By Raymond Dreyfack December 1, 1999

Maintenance Department Stockroom Attendant Mary Kaufman took a leave of absence under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) to care for her mother who had been released from the hospital following a heart attack. Her mother’s condition was touch-and-go for a while, but after 11 wk, she contracted pneumonia and died.

Maintenance Supervisor Jack Chester got the news from one of Mary’s coworkers. He called her and expressed regrets about her mother’s passing. Then he asked when she planned to return to work.

Mary hesitated. “I haven’t given that much thought yet. I imagine I’ll be out another couple of weeks at least. It will take that long to wind up my mother’s affairs.”

Question: In the supervisor’s place, what reply would you make?

Chester’s response: Mary was a good and loyal employee who had been through a rough time. Chester felt obligated to give her a bit of advice. “You’re on FMLA leave, Mary. Do you know that under the Act, this is limited to 12 wk? If you exceed this time, it could violate the legally defined and seriously affect your eligibility.”

“Oh, I never thought about that. Thanks so much for tipping me off. I’ll make sure to get back before the 12 wk are up.

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