Court decision may mean changes to Family Leave Act

Nathan Whatley a leading employment law attorney in Oklahoma, was interviewed by The Oklahoman on a recent Federal Appeals Court decision that expanded an employer’s duty to designate an employee’s absence as covered under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).

Whatley said the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a lower court’s judgment in favor of an employer who had fired an employee after she had “a strong emotional and physical reaction when a stray puppy wandered into her workspace.

“The employee engaged in bizarre and threatening behavior, called in sick day after day due to the stray dog, and failed to provide necessary medical certification to justify a medical leave of absence. The court found that the employee’s unusual behavior constituted “constructive notice” of the need for FMLA leave in the same way that watching an employee break a leg would constitute notice.”

Whatley also discussed other new developments regarding FMLA that employers should be aware of, including key changes in some new proposed regulations. One of the proposed regulations would allow male employees to take protected leave when attending prenatal appointments with a spouse.