Correcting Deficient Medical Certifications
A recent Third Circuit case reconfirms the importance of following up on medical certification if there is any question about its completeness or clarity. An employee requested intermittent FMLA leave from her employer and provided certification completed by her physician. The physician failed to provide any information, however, regarding her condition or its expected duration. He indicated only that the employee would be seen two times a month for approximately one month. When the employee took five days off of work, her employment was terminated for excessive absenteeism. The employee was later diagnosed with diabetes.
The Third Circuit ruled that the FMLA does include a right to cure, and imposes an obligation on the employer to provide the employee with notices of deficiencies in medical certification, citing the applicable regulation. An employer is required to state in writing what additional information is necessary to make the certification complete and sufficient.
So, employers must keep track of FMLA records and forms, and ensure that they follow the required steps before taking action against an employee for failing to provide sufficient documentation of a need for FMLA leave. Therefore, it’s important that if certification is incomplete, the employer at least follow up with a request for clarification within the listed time frames, before pursuing disciplinary action against an employee who may be entitled to FMLA protections, but failed to have the FMLA certifications fully completed.